Words Of Whizz-Dom

The RW staff around the world have learned a few things about running over the years. Here's a sample of their hard-won wisdom

Posted: 4 August 2002
by Beth Eck, Alisa Bauman and Mark Remy

Don’t overdo it
"I know now that hammering every session was ultimately counter-productive. When I first started running, I would struggle to keep up with running friends who were faster than me. This got me into shape, but it took a mounting toll on my muscles and joints. I finally learned to cut back to my own comfort level. Then, over time, I slowly increased the intensity at my own pace. After six months of sensible running, I was ready to rejoin the fast group for harder work-outs."
Dave Sellers, 54. Years running: 21

Appreciate the activity
"I wish that when I started, I’d understood the difference running can make. As it was, I simply saw it as a competitive sport and a marker of my fitness. If I’d known how positively it would affect my life over the years, I wouldn’t have abused it during those early years. With running, I guess it just took me a while to understand it."
Adam Bean, 41. Years running: 26

Race short distances first
"Like too many novice runners, I focused on the marathon right away. I started running in 1979 and finished my first marathon only a year later. In my first three years of running, I did seven marathons. I never even ran a half-marathon until 1982. Luckily, I didn’t get injured. But if I had concentrated on shorter races early on, I’m convinced I’d have a faster marathon PB and fewer injury problems."
Eileen Portz-Shovlin, 53. Years running: 22

Keep a training log
"I wish I’d kept running logs when I first started running, and that I’d done a better job on them once I did start recording my sessions. I have decent logs going back over the last few years, and it’s useful to read back through my sessions and find out what I used to do. I just wish I had a better record of the first years when I started out, so I could see how far I have come."
Sean Fishpool, 29. Years running: 7

Hydrate properly
"With the way I sweat, I ought to be the world’s leading expert on hydration and exercise. Maybe I am. My first sign of dehydration trouble occurred during my very first school race in 1972. Somewhere in the second mile, I slowed to a crawl, and from then on I don’t remember much. Not until years later, when I met my wife - a runner and dedicated water drinker - did I smarten up about running and drinking."
Welles Lobb, 43. Years running: 29

Enjoy the moment
"There is a tendency to think that, no matter how well the race goes or how good the time, you could always have done better. It’s true that there are no perfect races, and if you didn’t think you could still improve you might lose your motivation to continue. But that last race might be as good as it gets, so enjoy it. Forget about the negatives and focus and enjoy what you have achieved."
Steve Smythe, 43. Years running: 32

Pay attention to your body
"Taking care of myself and staying uninjured is more important than any training run or race. If I had learned that last year when I was struggling with a hip injury, I would have taken a break immediately and fixed the problem, rather than trying to run through it in order to run the London Marathon. As it was, I didn’t run London and I missed months of training because I didn’t pay attention to the clear message my body was giving me."
Rob Spedding, 28. Years running: 14

Know that there’s time
"When I first started running, I thought I had to do everything ‘right now’ or the opportunity would be gone forever. I thought that if I missed a day of training due to injury, I had to run harder or longer the next day to make up for it. If I had a bad run, I had to have a good one the next day. If I missed a race, I had to find another one. Now I know that I’ve got all the time I need. I no longer measure running by what it can do for me today. Instead, I love running for the promise and rewards it brings me year after year."
Amby Burfoot, 54. Years running: 38

Listen to pain
"Localised pain can be an early warning that something is not right. It may mean it’s time to back off from running and find out what’s wrong. Listen and react to the pain. You may lose a few days of running, but ignore it and you can do serious damage."
Michael Selman, 45. Years running: 18

Embrace recovery
"I wish I’d known 15 years ago that recovery was more important than continuing to train hard. Now I pay more attention to my body and what I can and can’t do.
Paul Caminiti, 33. Years running: 22

Protect your knees
"Too many runners seem to accept knee pain as part of the sport. It doesn’t have to be. You can protect your knees by building up your quadriceps muscles. Try half-squats or use the leg-press machine at the gym."
Marc Strong, 37. Years running: 20

Go for quantity time
"If you’re preparing for a marathon and your goal is simply to finish, emphasise mileage quantity, not quality. Quality only comes into play when aiming for a specific time."
Ben Behun, 24. Years running: 3

Do it for you
"I wish I had been less self-conscious when I started. I listened to a group of women runners who thought that they were on display whenever they ran. Eventually I saw beyond that, so now I run for myself, and I don’t care what others think about it."
Mary Salmon, 45. Years running: 5

Learn to spit
"About a year ago, while training for a marathon with a new running partner, I discovered what a difference spitting can make. Before this, the last few miles of my long runs were always uncomfortable because my mouth would get so pasty. But once I started spitting (being careful not to hit my training partner), long runs became much easier for me."
Jane Unger Hahn, 36. Years running: 6

Race by feel
"Don’t worry about your mile splits when racing (or training, for that matter). You’ll enjoy it a lot more if you just give it your best effort. PBs are nice, but the feeling of doing your best can be achieved in any race, regardless of your age."
Amir Sanchez, 39. Years running: 25

Think it, then do it
"I ran my first 5K in April 2000, and my first marathon eight months later. In that time, I learned that running long distance is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical. Be prepared to change both inside and out. If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t. It’s that simple."
Chris Carey, 29. Years running: 1

Support your friends
"I’ve learned how rewarding it can be to go and support your teammates or fellow club members when they race, or to marshal at a club event. For me, the real fun of running is being with others and being able to help them out."
Kelly Robidoux, 21. Years running: 5

Do a form makeover
"I wish I had known about proper form. I started running for fitness, but my bad form made it a struggle. Now, after correcting my form and stride rate, I’ve increased my weekly mileage and started running marathons. I run much easier now."
Kenneth Cohen, 29. Years running: 15

Take in fluids
"It’s old advice but good advice. I used to wonder why my runs were so variable, but after one particularly long run I realised that I wasn’t drinking enough. Now, on all my longer training runs, I make sure I can pick water up along the way or I carry it with me, even though it’s an inconvenience."
Sean Wilson, 29. Years running 4

Race long
"I had an incredible feeling of peace, well-being and joy when I finished my first long race - a half-marathon. It made all the effort worthwhile. There is nothing quite like the first time."
Jim Kristufek, 52. Years running: 27

Stay inside if you want
"When I started running in my mid-20s, I thought running on a treadmill was cheating, so I’d push myself to get out on the worst days. Now I realise that I can sometimes do a better session on the treadmill. It saves on washing kit, too."
David Monti, 41. Years running: 16

Do a morning assessment
"If I wake up in the morning and my legs are still aching, then I know I overdid it the previous day. I take it easy and get extra rest and sleep before training hard again."
William Wall, 68. Years running: 13

Hit the speed limit
"If you want to get faster, you have to train for it, and that means doing speedwork. It sounds obvious, but I always thought I could improve by going a little faster on my daily training runs. I improved, but only marginally. It took me 12 years to learn that speedwork was the way to do it."
Dave Webber, 46. Years running: 15

Buy the right stuff
"Shamefully, I used to run in tennis shoes. Then a running friend suggested I try running shoes, and the difference was amazing! Now I’ve become a running-shoe evangelist for all my new running friends."
Molly Brown, 30. Years running: 12

Stretch often
"I’d much rather run than stretch, but now I have chronic Achilles tendinitis, a recurring muscle tear in my left calf and a dodgy illiotibial band, so I have no choice but to stretch. If I’d stretched more in the past, I probably wouldn’t be in this state. Don’t do as I did. Your legs will thank you."
Doug Krentzmann, 40. Years running: 26

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Lessons Learnt

wisdom, beginner misc

Discuss this article

Hello all.

My name is Carl and I am about to start running in order to "do" the FLM next april. I have been offered a golden place with a charity so have the double wammy of training and fundraising (£1500).

I am 5' 7" and about 14 stone, so it will be hard going. I did the Great South run 2 years ago with almost no training other than odd 2 mile walk runs. I joined the gym and managed to jog a mile on a treadmill in about 10 mins without stopping, but my feet we on fire after 20 mins.

I have got a few schedules from this site and the Hal higdon book. The trouble I have no stamina, after 200 yards I am out of breath, so after 1/4 mile i walk for 15 seconds and carry on. I now run 100 yards walk 15 seconds etc and can manage 3 or 4 miles.

i contacted the local running club who were friendly but not interested in helping a newcomer, as they were off on 4 6 or 8 milers. It was quite off putting. I felt like come back when you can run 4 miles.

I welcome thoughts and ideas, and look forward to be able to understand running for 30 mins etc
Posted: 14/07/2003 at 13:12

Slow down - when I started running I couldn't do 10 minutes without dying and as soon as I slowed down I could do 30 minutes. YOu can build up your speed later
Posted: 14/07/2003 at 13:15

Carl - Early days is quite right...slow down. Run at a really comfortable pace and increase no more than 10 per cent a week in total distance. Within six weeks you'll be surprised at how far you've come on.

Good luck and keep posting here.
Posted: 14/07/2003 at 13:19

Hi CC, I think you should try to lose some weight, that would make running much easier on your feet, and knees.
I started running again after a long lay off due to a real bad health thingy, it was hell untill I dropped the weight from 13st to 11.5 st, ( I am the same height as you)then things started to happen for me.
Don't let anyone put you off, you will see progress, just be dilligent and patient, you will get there.
Posted: 14/07/2003 at 13:25

CC-Youve got loads of time before the greatest day of your life-be careful with training programmes-THEY ARE A GUIDE!-if youre hurting or dont feel good-dont do it. You must get as fit as u can between now and april for sure. Run at a comftable pace-if u cant talk ur going too fast. Vary training during the week and do a long run at the weekend sat or sun-depending on ur social life and weather forecast.

Yours stamina etc will improve-u have to put in hard work and dedication-look after ur diet etc. I think it helps to enter some half marathons and 10k aswell-this will get u used to running races and paceing yourself and taking water etc.

You must also go to a proper running shop and get shoes and socks that can cope with a marathon.

Good luck

C U There

Posted: 14/07/2003 at 13:34

Yep, can't agree more with the others - keep it slow (even if you think you can't go any slower!) and you'll improve the lenght of time you can run for. Up your time first, then worry about speed and distance later.

I'm giving you this advice with only 3 weeks experience of any running whatsoever - and with a much less admirable goal than yours - I'm only going for 5k so feel free to ignore me!!

I hope it all works out brilliantly for you. Take it easy for these first few weeks, the run walk programme on here is a good guide (but take longer to do each week if you need to - I do!) and let your body get used to the exercise - I was a regular at the gym for a couple of years before starting running but found running on the road hellishly difficult!!

Best of luck and keep us posted with your progress. This forum is a good motivator.

Pink xx
Posted: 14/07/2003 at 15:11

Hi Carl

I found that the best way to start is to learn to run as slow as you can and the easiest way to do that is to talk. If you don't have a running partner then talk to yourself about any and every subject that comes to mind. Without even realising it the time passes and you get fit at your body's natural pace.
OK you might look like you are one step closer to a well zipped up jacket but then non runners think we are all crazy so what do you have to loose.

Good luck
Posted: 15/07/2003 at 18:27

Hi, Carl. welcome to the mad world of running! just started running again myself, literally, today!! Maybe we cld keep each other motivated a bit! Having once been a 1.30 half marathon runner,it was a shock that it took more than 8 minutes to run for three quarters of a mile around the local park!! Still,as another emailer has told you, its early days. The only other advice I can give you, is have an alternative sport to help you get fitter. As I live in the hilly part of Sussex, I do a fair bit of mountain biking, which as well as being beneficial, fitness-wise, gives the legs something else to think about.Keep it up, it DOES get easier!!
Posted: 15/07/2003 at 19:59

Carl, all I can do is echo the advice you have been given, you have loads of time, so don't rush. Go very slowly, (even if you could walk quicker) to start with, have your walk breaks, and just build up your endurance rather than worrying about speed, that will come later (so I have been told! I am still a plodder)
and most of all, go out and enjoy it.

Posted: 15/07/2003 at 23:25

Thanks for postings so far.

Last 2 night were wonderful for jogging around 7.30pm, as my route is tree lined roads so in shade for almost the whole run.

I tried a 60 second jog and then 60 second walk, but still covered first mile in under 10 mins. so really slowed down 2 3 and 4 mile.

I have always been very quick in short bursts. But this is a different ball game.

Also play badmington so thats a good change.

I will set 4 miles as my long limit and 3 as my weekday limit. I must get my weight down so that will be my priority for a few weeks.

Thanks guys
Posted: 16/07/2003 at 09:11

Carl, glad to hear it's going ok, just keep it steady, and don't try & go too fast to start with

Posted: 16/07/2003 at 22:16

Shin pains

My first experience of shin pains. I have run 4 miles Monday 3 yesterday and tonight. But my shins were painful tonight.

Is this due to over running or shoes.

I have a 3 year old pair of saucony grid 3d.

Any ideas?

Tomorrow is a rest day - well badmington night really. Friday is rest day.

Posted: 23/07/2003 at 21:12

Possibly both, don't start out running 3 days in a row, you need to let muscles/ligaments, etc recover in between.
Shoes 3 years old.... what else have you used them for? should only run 400-500 miles per pair, get checked out in a running shop, where they will be able to advise you.

Posted: 23/07/2003 at 22:09

Hi Carl. I started about 10 weeks ago (with the aim of running the FLM as well!) and started small. As many have suggested - don't try to do too much too soon !

Basically what I did was that I set myself an interim target of a 10k first (which I did a couple of weekends ago). Found a race, booked it it and then trained towards that rather than aiming straight away for the marathon training.
I used one of the 8 week beginners training programmes on this site which says it will get you running 30 minutes non-stop after the 8 weeks. This starts with 20 minutes of alternating 1 minute run and 2 minutes walk, 3 times a week, then 2 minutes run and 1 minutes walk for 20 minutes for 3 days the next week and works up from there.
It really worked for me and I would recommend it as now I can run 30 minutes non-stop without any problems - when I started, the one minute was bad enough :)

Now I've done that, I've moved on to a half-marathon training schedule which starts off at the 30 minutes continuous run level and builds it up from there.

Find something that suits your lifestyle and set yourself acheivable interim goals to give you the impetus to keep going.

And lastly - good luck :)
Posted: 23/07/2003 at 22:31

I am running 1 minute and walking i minute which I really like.

I will reallign my schedule to run 4 days in the week 2 rest days and 1 badmington day.

Been running for 4 weeks so about half way on that 30 minute running goal. I will cut out the 45 minute long run for now and see how that goes for a few weeks.

I guess a trip to up and running is called for.

Posted: 24/07/2003 at 09:17

Hi Carl

When I started I just tried to run a minute further each time. Started at 6 mins, 7,8 etc. Ran every other day.

Yes I got shin splints after doing a 60 min run after 3 weeks. I wanted to see if I could run for long enough to finish a 10k!

3 years on I run twice a day, currently 75+ mpw. Have completed 4 marathons.

So it can be done. Good luck and stick with it.
Posted: 24/07/2003 at 09:28


Now running 75 secs running and 45 secs walking. A nice steady 11 mins a mile so 44 mins for the 4 mile route i have that is quite hilly esp the last mile. I love running past my local onward and inward. I feel good and like the steady pace.

Got a nice excel spreadsheet to log times etc.

I got a nice pair of ascis 2080 shoes.

I have entered the cardiff 10k in 5 weeks time. Not to worried about the extra miles to do. I will just stick to the 75 / 45 method. I read on another forum that some one did the FLM on this process, so I will do the 10k myself.

Posted: 10/08/2003 at 22:24

Good luck with the 10k Carl. I started running in March and ran my first 10k on May 11th. My time didn't set the world alight but it felt like a great achievement to finish it and I'm aiming to run my first half-marathon in October. I only started with running 1 minute and walking 1 minute so it can be done! I've also got a pair of Asics 2080, must be the recommended shoe for the former couch potatoes!
Posted: 11/08/2003 at 00:17

Well I love the run 75 seconds walk 45. I may extend to 90 / 30 but like the 2 minute pattern

Completed 6.6 miles yesterday. No problems with the shins. Love the new shoes. I find the run walk slows me down which is great.

I find this gives me a steady pace of about 11 mins a mile. I think I will stick to this pattern as it suits me. Yesterday I intended to run 4 miles but kept going as I was enjoying the warm day and peace and quiet.

I got my race number for Cardiff and looking forward to that.

I have also lost 4lbs which is great considering a blast in Prague a few weeks back.
Posted: 18/08/2003 at 21:32

cardiff was my first 10k
Its a fab course, i wish i could do it this year

Quite a lot of people take over an hour to finish, so dont worry and enjoy it
It will be a PB anyway
Posted: 18/08/2003 at 21:54

Carl, congratulations on your progress. It sounds as if you're approaching your training the right way, building up gradually from week to week.

As you build up your base of endurance you should start to find that the increases get easier - going from 14 to 15 miles is easier than going from 4 to 5.

Keep us informed on how the 10k goes. Above all, enjoy the occasion, and make the most of it as a chance to practice your race day routine. Good luck.
Posted: 18/08/2003 at 22:01

hey all!! very new to this running caper myself! I have been taking it very slow. First time I went out, I thought i really had to "run" or I would just be a jogger (rather than a ruuner)! After a few weeks, I could only manage 6 mins at most and I was dying... I lost inspiration for a month or so, So I am starting allover again... Took it so slow that I could prbably have speed walked at the same pace!!! But I got going for 25 mins!! woohoo! I was amazed... Hopefully speed will soon follow if only I knew what distance i was running! Good luck anways everyone that needs it ( that will be everyone then!)

P.s: I need some encouraging words as although I LOVE it once I'm out, I have real motivational issues concerned with getting out the door!xx :(
Posted: 19/08/2003 at 01:22

Hi Jenni,

As regards motivation I've found it was good to have a goal to work towards. I've only been runnung since March and couldn't run for four minutes never mind six when I first started. I just aimed for running a local 10k in May and worked towards that. It took me 1hr 5 mins 12 secs but I felt like I'd really achieved something. My new target is my first half-marathon in October. I won't break any speed records but I'm aiming to just get round without stopping and to enjoy myself.

As regards distance measuring, I can't afford a GPS watch so I just bought an Ordanance Survey Explorer map of my area and measure distance off that. Just pick a landmark on it, work out the miles and aim to get there and back. Not as high tech as GPS but just as good!

Good luck and hope everything continues to go well.

Posted: 19/08/2003 at 12:49

hey, found a good site, multimap.com!! It has farms marked on it where I run , so it's ideal!! very detailed! it even has a discontinued railway on that I sometimes run in so I was well amazed!xx
10k is a bit much for me! thinking about a 5... actually, the backs of my legs are looking good, so thats getting me out the door.
Oh and my lovely friend laughed at me when I said I was running!! Thats all the motivation I need! I'll show her!xxx
Posted: 20/08/2003 at 15:23

I'll have a look at the multimap site myself,it'll do until I win the lottery and buy myself a GPS!

5k seems like a good place to start for a first race. If you keep doing what you're doing now and just build on it a little you'll be fine. I got my number through today for my half-marathon and I'm now having a massive crisis in confidence!

I know what you mean about being toned acting as a motivator:my own legs have actually developed some muscle now! That's something else that inspires me to drag myself off the couch and out for a run!

Take care,

Posted: 20/08/2003 at 17:05

I'm off with the dog for a run now!!! I bet there will be loads of people going to the same race as you that will be nervous too!
Bet you feel great about urself afterwards..

P.S: what's the big deal about the GPS thing? how much are they? I cant imagine ever wanting one! My £30 running watch will do me fine!xxx
maybe i'll change my mind if I get serious!!.xxxx
Posted: 20/08/2003 at 20:19

Hope the run went okay,hoe far did you get? I can't take my dog because he just goes mental and runs out into the road! I did 4 miles today and 6.5 yesterday. Building up to an 8 miler on Sunday. I'm still just a plodder really, I think I'm setting a fairly good pace and then some other runner tears past me and all I can see is the dust from their shoes. I've got one of those foot spa things and it was gathering dust until I started running, now there's nothing better when I get in with aching feet (took full advantage of it this evening)!

As for GPS, my next door neighbour's a marathon runner and she showed me hers. You wear the watch on your wrist and there's a small box that she clips to the waistband of her shorts. A satellite tracks her and the watch is able to measure how far she's gone, how fast she's going, her pace etc. They're about £180 I think. Like you, I'll just stick with my digital watch for now (I think I'm getting serious but not £180 serious!).

Steve xx.
Posted: 20/08/2003 at 23:04

wow steve! that is a good gadget!! If i'm still running in a years time, I'll treat myself!x
It was a tragically bad run! and my legs are now aching... I think i shall run every other day, and not every day...
Motivation thingys that help:
Keeping a running diary (sad I know!) If I dont run then it;s blank on that date and looks bad so that encourages me!
Music (theme for rocky!!! before I go out. although I cant always take my MDisc with me cause there arent pavements here, so I have to listen for cars!!
Posted: 21/08/2003 at 00:49

everyone these days seems obsessed with time and distance, just go for a run with no distance and time in mind and run/walk for as long as you feel comfortable. The motavation things easier because your going for a run not i have to X kms in X time. just enjoy and you'll be amazed how gains come along. If you don't enjoy whats he point. Take it easy, relax and enjoy.
Posted: 21/08/2003 at 07:45

Jenni, I'm not surprised your legs are aching if you run every day! I couldn't manage to do that because I know I'd be really sore. I just aim for every other day and have my long run on a Sunday.

Listening to the music is a good motivator I know. I've got my own 'running CD' that I take out with me on a portable player (and Yes, it has the Rocky theme on it!). I run mostly on country tracks so I don't have to worry about getting squashed by cars! The running diary sounds like a good idea, looking at the blank space will provide the guilt factor!

Posted: 21/08/2003 at 07:54

it sure does!! I'm thinking that I need a proper pair of running shoes, as a swollen ankle prevented me from running last night!xx
Posted: 23/08/2003 at 16:55

Hope the ankle's a bit better now and that you're managing to get back into the swing again. New trainers might be a good idea, I had real problems with my toes turning black (gross I know!) in my old pair and I went to a specialist runners shop and he told me my shoes were too small. Got a pair of Asics GT 2080 and they're a lot better now. Lots of cushioning and support and very light!

I'm off to up to Scotland tommorow for a week so I'm looking forward to trying to tackle some hills! It'll either improve my fitness or kill me I guess! I won't be posting until I get back but if you want to send me an e-mail then that'd be great. I think it's enabled on my profile. It's nice to know how other people are doing with their training!

Anyway, hope your 5k preparation goes well (you should definitely enter!) All the best,

Steve x.
Posted: 24/08/2003 at 14:38


I would also recommend doing some leg weights to help with the shin splints. Running can seriously wear away the leg muscles and it is essential to do some weights to rebuild them!
Hope all goes well in the 10k. Rememeber just to keep plodding on!
One tip that I read recently (from Paula Radcliffe's autobiography no less) is, when having a bad patch, to count up to 100 about 3 times in your head. She manages to get through a mile in that time... for us lesser mortales is slight less distance! But it really gets you concentrating on something other then the pain your in at that point and before you know it you have got through the rough patch!

Posted: 18/07/2005 at 16:49

Did my first marathon in edinburgh 4hr 30. well chuffed as when i started I couldn't run a mile (x smoker that i am!) I think you are right in starting with a run/walk tactic To get onto maintaining a longer run the key is to take it slow. A gentle plod, with some tunes to take your mind off things and tissues to blow a snotty nose!
I alternate my training : short distances for speed work (and boy does the old ticker feel that one) and a very slow jog for distances at conversation pace. The speed work will come don't worry. It is suprising how hard it is to run, even though I did other sports like spinning, tennis etc I was so shocked at how hard it was to run a mile. I thought my chest would explode! But it doesn't take long for ones body to adapt and with regular effort the miles and pace and this crazy running hobby becomes quite enjoyable !!! GOOD LUCK!
Posted: 27/09/2005 at 22:55

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