Beginner - how to improve

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07/10/2002 at 21:29
Hi, I am looking for some advice on how to improve my running. I started about 3 months ago as a total beginner, took about 6 weeks to get to a mile and now I can run about 2.5 miles without stopping which takes about 25minutes. However, I have got stuck and haven't improved for about a month (I did take a couple of weeks off for a bad back). Anyway, my aim is to be able to run 5/6 miles without stopping. I thought if I set myself a 10k target this may give me something to aim for. WOuld January be to optimistic ? Should I just keep trying to go a bit further each week to build up to that distance or is there a more effective way ? Is it normal to just get stuck and struggle on a distance that I have been covering with relative ease for several weeks ?
07/10/2002 at 22:05
Find someone to run with and enter an event or events. One of my running friends found it difficult to run past 5 miles on a regular basis. So we started to introduce longer varied routes at the weekend (whenever possible)to benifit us all. She ran for 2.5 hours on Sunday alone because she now has the confidence. She has also covered 2 full marathons this year. She only started serious training in January. First 26.2 miles was April 7 in Paris. 2nd was the New Forest in Sept and she will finish with New York in November.
Running with friends is also a great social event. And you will motivate each other.
And of course have a target. the training schedules in the magazine are excellent. January sounds fine to me but please bear in mind I am no expert.

08/10/2002 at 08:58
A 10k in January is totally achieveable for someone who can do 2.5 non-stop in 25 mins.

Have you tried a couple of shorter, faster sessions to mix your training up a bit? I've tended to concentrate on going further & further in the past and then stalled because it got harder to motivate myself for long slow sessions.

If you're comfortable with your 2.5 miles route another idea is to drop in a couple of fartlek sessions (Danish/Swedish word for short bursts of speed mixed into an normal paced run. It's dead easy - you run along at your normal pace then pick a point a few metres ahead and sprint for it then when you get there you slow back to your normal pace without stopping or walking if at all possible, works for me).


PS I guess the obvious warning notes on this are - listen to your back (don't do anything that risks damaging it) and don't start of sprinting straight from the front dorr (give yourself about half a mile at your usual comfortable pace before trying to spped up).

Good luck
08/10/2002 at 09:37
Hi Sara. I am a new runner too. I started running more seriously (although I still consider myself a recreational runner)2 1/2 months ago.
My regular run is about 6.5 km (4 miles) and I do this in 35 minutes. I also do one longer run per week of about 8km (5 miles).

I am also hopping to do a 10k in January and know that this goal is acheivable.
I want to improve and be able to run the 10k comfotably, so I plan to introduce a fartlek session into my weekly training in order to help me get faster and stronger.

08/10/2002 at 15:18
Hi Nick, Derek and Beth. Thank you everyone for your responses. I do usually run with a friend and would absoloutely agree this helps - I don't know that I would still be doing it if it wasn't for my friend ! We are both at exactly the same 'level' which is handy but we are both also stuck ! From this week we are going to do one hill session because hills are a particular problem for us. So we are just going to go up and down a hill for 1/2 hour ! I will also suggest we try this fartlek thing and put some speed into our normal run. I think we will just continue with 3 or 4 seesions of 1/2 hr each time but vary the runs with fartlek and hills until we can go further distance wise. I will suggest we continue with our 10k by January target then if this is practical. Thanks again - all advice appreciated and I will let you know how I get on !
17/10/2002 at 22:53
I got stuck and bought some more running shoes - lighter and more cushioned. i felt like I could fly and running wasn't the effort it had been!
18/10/2002 at 16:34
Hi Sara

Perhaps doing hill repetitions so early in your running might be overdoing it a bit. Maybee you shoud consider some run/walks ie run for 9 minutes walk for 1 minute and so on. you will find it much easier to extend your overall effort and hence distance in this way. carry on what you are doing but make the run/walk activity your weekly "long steady distance" run, this really works, long before january your continous running distance will be way beyond 2.5 miles.

Good luck and keep to it

22/10/2002 at 11:35
Hi Cha,

Just read your message - I agree, we tried the hills last week and it was really hard. I also felt like I couldn't do a fartlek as it is really hard work just getting round the 2.5mls and there is simply no energy to add in sprints yet. We really are at our limit at the moment. Also, come Saturday we couldn't go as far as normal on our long run so it clearly didn't help !

We normally aim to do 4 runs a week with a long run on Saturday and a slightly shorter 20min run on Sunday ( the idea being that this is a recovery run). Do you think we should do the same distance 4 times as week but run/walk them and try to increase the distance once a week by say 5 minutes ?

We are getting despondent, we haven't moved forward in over a month, we are working hard and desperate to get up to a 10k by January (we have been running since July). I suppose it is a matter of finding a method to improve and just pushing ! Does it ever get easier !! Thanks very much for your tips.

Carmel - I have good trainers, I bought some after second run - the Nike Pegasus after trying loads on - I am really pleased with them !
22/10/2002 at 13:02

When I've plateaued out I try to forget what I'm aiming for for a couple of runs (go out without a watch and relax by running for the fun of it), then when I check next time I've often moved on a bit which gives me the boost to go further.

When I hit a problem with a particular hill that I couldn't get up I just picked a point a few yards ahead of where I kept stalling and only aimed for that - then found when I got there I could do a few more paces, then a few more and found I'd got to the top - now I can't believe I couldn't get up it because it's part of my normal run.

I also had a problem once when I had a nice convenient lap that I did that went past the house, each time I approached the end of the lap all those little aches/gasps etc reared up and persuaded me I'd done enough, even though I wanted to go further. Can you alter your route so you have to do, say, 2.7m before you get back (not forgetting it's perfectly acceptable to walk if you need to)

If none of these rambles ring true for you - have you wondered whether you might be over training? 4 runs a week is fairly hefty training load - what if you try dropping one but saying you'll go further on your long run.
22/10/2002 at 13:13
Hi Nick
I have just read your message and as another beginner had to re-read your sentence "running for the fun of it" Please tell me when will running stop being painful and start being fun? BTW am totally new to this whole forum malarky and I love it! Sooooo encouraging and motivating!
22/10/2002 at 13:22

When I started earlier this year I got stuck on a plateau like you standard run same time.

Why don't you look at working out a slightly longer route say 3m, and deliberately run a little slower at the start, so sy your 2.5miles takes 28mins and your full 3 mile 34 mins.

it's always a difficult thing to say do I go further or faster. I find it easier to a bit further first (& sl slower) and then whne I go back to the shorter runs i find I can go abit faster.

good luck and watch the rain.....:-(
22/10/2002 at 13:46
Hi Sara

4 runs a week is good, but I'd suggest having a rest day after your "long" run on the Saturday. If you are run/walking you might be able to extend your long saturday run by about 10 minutes per week, but remember only on that one day, make the other runs shorter and easy paced.

I'd also recommend getting a good running book, they are full of good training schedules which you can modify to your own circumstances and can really help with motivation. I use "Running is easy" by Bruce Tulloh but there are other equally good ones around.

Think about joining a running club especially a road runners type club, most welcome beginners and you will not believe the difference running with a group will make to your progress.

Keep up the good work and let us know how you are getting on, especially when you complete that 10k.

22/10/2002 at 16:04
Loads of really good tips ! Thanks everyone. It's not that long ago that tips from this site got me to the 1 mile mark !

The route I do is 3.25 miles but I run the first 2.5 and walk the last bit (because i can't get any further I think because it is gradually uphill). I could extend this route out to about 4.5 miles which is before the hilly bit and see if that gets me further. I'll also do the run/walk thing. I will try that on Saturday !

I did start with a running club and it was good for the first month as they ran around with us beginners but after that, they went off on massive runs and left us beginners behind - in fact my friend and I ended up waiting at corners for one poor lady who kept getting left behind on her own so we decided to go it alone !

Anyway, watch this space, hopefully next week I may be able to let you all know that I have hit 3 miles !

22/10/2002 at 17:27
Hi again Sara

Do Different routes. Nothing is more soul destroying than the same run over and over again. Its good to check time/distance on a familiar route occasionally, but variety is what keeps you fresh.

22/10/2002 at 17:33
Hi Pansie. My regular cry is also, "When will this stop hurting?" I started on June 20, unable to run across the road (truly!) and can now run 5.4 miles in 65 minutes. But whether I go that far, or just a couple of miles, every step is tedious, hard work. I have to psyche myself into continuing every second of the way. So, I can't answer your question. But maybe someone else can help both of us? Please?
22/10/2002 at 19:16
Sassie, get a small radio! You'd be surprised at the difference it can make. :)
22/10/2002 at 19:39
Hello all you beginners - it is really inspirational to know that other people are in the same boat. I have only just started running outside - have been doing it in the gym on the treadmill until three weeks ago, but had a goal of running for an hour, and couldn't face that on the treadmill! I've found that all the tips about not worrying if you are going really slowly is what's made the difference for me. I do about 10-11 minute miles (about 6min km) - perhaps a bit slower when I run for an hour (which I've now done five times). I too am aiming for a 10K in January and hope that I'll be ok. I am trying to do two one hour runs outside (one at the weekend and one on Tuesdays when I don't work) and then three gym sessions when I do 30mins on the cross trainer, some weights, and last week I tried this 400m fast/ 400m jog thing. It nearly killed me!! I might wait a bit before trying again - has anyone else got any ideas about this?
I'd really like to do a half marathon next year, and eventually a full one, but at the moment I can't imagine ever getting beyond the one hour mark....
I don't know why sometimes it seems fun running and other times it is just out and out slog. It does always feel good afterwards though.
22/10/2002 at 22:50
Sara - so you fibbed, you do 3 1/4m
not 2 1/2 - walking counts so don't underestimate yourself. I guess that makes you a 'real' runner so now you can enter races, beat PBs etc

Sassie/Pansie - today I don't think it ever stops hurting (I did an undertrained 10k on Sunday) but when I'm out I think a whole range of thoughts I don't get to think otherwise & clear a whole load of rubbish out of my mind that might otherwise get in my way.

I know I can go further because I've told myself I can - you can too (sorry if that sounds a bit 'new age' 'wishy washy' but it stopped hurting at the time when I started ignoring it and thinking about all the things I find important in life), please enjoy yourself

22/10/2002 at 22:54

My target is to do the 2004 London Marathon - why not join me running for Hope for Children ( fromn your regime so far I don't have any doubts you will be well up for a marathon by then.
23/10/2002 at 12:46
Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the comments about running hurting!! I've been running for about 3 months and whilst somedays I feel like I could run forever, other days it just feels like a really painful grind and I despair of ever getting faster. Really encouraging (in a warped sort of way) to know that others are suffering too! I also want to do a half marathon next year ... but as I haven't run more than 5 miles (very slowly) thus far, I despair of getting there!!
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