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
"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
"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
"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
"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