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Things to learn before you start running

SUCCESS IN DISTANCE RUNNING TAKES TIME

A lot of time. Greg McMillan tells his elite runners that it takes 2-3 years to start seeing their potential. This amount of time is on top of their high school and college running years – so it’s really about 10 years. Distance running success is about consistency and a gradual, yet progressive, pattern of training.

RUNNERS DON’T JUST RUN

I used to think I only needed running to be fast. I thought I just needed a strong heart and powerful lungs. I never did core exercises, rarely did drills, and avoided the weight room entirely. That was a huge mistake.

Being athletically well-rounded and coordinated helps you prevent injuries and run more efficiently, which corresponds to long-term consistent training.

DO THE LITTLE THINGS

All those little things help keep you healthy – icing when you need it, taking a nap after a hard workout, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of those small aches and pains before they become a real injury. Running gets you in good shape, but what you do before and after you run enables you to keep running.

If you need to be nudged in the right direction, then buy a foam roller, consider a Personalised Training Programme, or bet a friend that you’ll stick to your program.

FORM MATTERS. WORK ON IT.

We never worked on our running form in high school and rarely did running drills. That’s a crying shame, since every other sport relies heavily on form training. Swimmers focus on the correct way to swim before anything else. Basketball coaches are always preaching, “Bring that elbow in!” and “Square your hips!”

Running is a skill, like any other athletic movement, and needs to be done efficiently if you want to prevent injuries and run fast. Learn the correct running form early in your running career when it’s not as hard to change.

GET OFF THE ROADS

I’m being dramatic. There’s nothing inherently wrong with running on the road, but I truly believe every runner can benefit from trail running. With a softer surface, it can help you recover more quickly from hard workouts. The varied terrain helps you build more coordination and work more stabilising muscles.

In secondary school, we had a cross country captain who mapped a handful of trail runs on conservation land in Wolverhampton over the Summer. During the next season, we did almost all of our runs on these trails and had a helluva lot more fun than our old training runs. Getting lost in the woods (physically and mentally) is therapeutic.

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