Richard Taylor of 2110 Consult recently ran the Manchester Marathon for LandAid, smashing his fundraising target and raising more than £4,000 to end youth homelessness.
Ahead of the LandAid 10K this June, we thought it would be great to get someone with the experience of running a marathon to give their top ten running tips. Check out Richard’s secrets to success on the running track.
1. Don’t listen to the voices, and stop faffing!
It’s easy to listen to the voices that say have an extra hour in bed’ or have a glass of wine on the sofa’, but once you’re up, out and running, I guarantee that you’ll be much happier for the rest of the day. If you’ve found yourself getting changed into your running kit but not going for a run, or deciding to do something other than getting out of the front door, stop faffing and force yourself outside – once you’re out, you’ll be off into the distance in no time!
2. Strava is your friend!
Get yourself a Strava account – it’s free and will help you log your running and show you the progress you’re making over time. It’s also a great way of showing how much effort you’ve put in as the weeks pass by and you’ll be able to scroll through some of your runs to remind you of how far you’ve come when you’re feeling low.
3. Strava is not your friend!
Whilst it has its benefits, don’t get drawn into worrying about what everyone else is doing and the times and distances they are running. Stick to your own plan and ignore everyone else! Even on the free version of Strava, there are lots of privacy settings you can switch on to avoid your data being published online if you don’t want everyone seeing your statistics. I am not a social media fan but Strava has had a dramatic effect on my running.
4. Small increments
Build up the distances slowly and week by week. With a little regularity and some planning, you’ll be amazed at how the distances increase over time. Don’t suddenly double the distance or you’ll increase the risk of injury.
5. Get a running plan
Paying for a Strava summit’ subscription will allow you to call up a training plan that will email you each day and give you guidance on your next run. It also gives you some structure to work to and allow you to plan the days ahead. There are lots of free running plans around online, or in magazines like Runner’s World – make sure you pick a plan to suit you and stick to it. Print it out, stick it to the fridge, put it on your screensaver at work, keep it in your pocket. Get on board with the plan!
6. Sleep and recovery
Sleep and recovery are the most important part of any plan. Try going to bed an hour earlier than you usually do (and don’t take your phone with you) – you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, especially in the weeks just before race day.
7. Mix it up
If you’re running the same routes at the same pace week in week out, your fitness probably won’t change much. Mix it up! It’s really important to include a variety of different types of run – any running plan will likely include a variety of differing speeds, duration and effort.
Make sure you find new routes to keep your mind occupied – remember that every loop you do can be done in the opposite direction! Seek out the hills – it’ll give you something to draw upon if you’re struggling on race day. Get dropped off somewhere and run home to avoid having to do a loop. Get training with friends; take the dog with you, get the kids out on their bikes while you run. Easy runs where you can carry on a normal conversation are absolutely imperative (and you’ll look a bit daft talking to yourself if you’re out on your own).
Stiffening up and having tight muscles will slow you down dramatically and if you don’t prepare properly before and after running you’ll probably get injured. Stretch for at least ten minutes before and after every run. Stretch in front of the TV, find stretches you can do when you’re sitting at your desk or brushing your teeth and before you go to bed. Stretch, stretch and stretch again. And buy a foam roller as well – another great way of helping weary muscles to recover.
9. Become a Parkrun Tourist
If you haven’t already done a Parkrun, get registered and get out for one – they are always on a Saturday at 9am and probably in your local park. They are the perfect introduction to timed running events with lots of other people. I’m sure you’ll have a local one that you can do on your own, with your family (I take my dog!) or your friends.
Whether it’s a 5K race or a marathon you’re training for, Parkruns are friendly, fun and a great way of preparing for races of any length. I broke down my first marathon into 5K sections (and even smaller chunks towards the end!) so that my brain didn’t start panicking about the overall distance. If you can get a 5K loop programmed into your mind, you’ll have more chance of being able to focus on breaking down larger distances on race day if you are running the 10K route at this year’s LandAid 10K.
If you’re away in the UK for the weekend, try a Parkrun on a Saturday wherever you’re staying. I absolutely guarantee you’ll enjoy being a Parkrun tourist!
10. Be thankful
Get outside, explore the world – it always looks different when you’re running, no matter how quickly or slowly you’re moving.
For amazing running stories, Google Paula Radcliffe, watch the Nike Breaking 2′ documentary on Youtube and ‘Running for Good’ on Amazon Prime. Watch the Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix (this race is so tough that nobody finished it this year!) – but most of all, be thankful that you were given the ability to do some preparation and that you were even able to make it to the start line.
Be mindful of others and always be thankful for your health; there’s a blind runner at my local Parkrun every Saturday morning and there were several at the Manchester marathon this year – I doff my virtual cap to them as I type; now they are truly amazing!