30 Best Training Tips - From the Forum

Real-life tried and tested ways to improve your motivation, long runs, speedwork and more - from runners just like you

Posted: 21 March 2005

Heaven forbid that you might not always take RW's expert coaching advice as gospel. But there's something reassuring about other runners' first-hand experiences, too, is there not?

So... here's a first instalment of some of the most practical training tips from the Runner's World Training forum - posted by runners just like you. There's advice for everyone: slow runners, speedsters, newbies, seasoned marathoners and more. (However, if you're a complete beginner, try our 50 Best Beginners Tips – From the Forum first.)

We've grouped the tips into these categories, all on this page:
General | Long runs | Speedwork | Hillwork | Heart rate

The name of each tip-giver - each of whom we salute - prefaces each one, and you can click through to the whole thread to find out more. If you want to bring any of the conversations back to life, add another message to the thread, and see what people say.


Build fitness effectively: slow down!
Barnsleyrunner - I found that after three years of long runs, races and lots of speedwork I was getting fed up with doing a session 'because it was on the schedule', or because everyone else was doing it. Having two disappointing marathons made me think about base-building, and it's opened up a whole new lease of life for me. Now I know why I am doing each run, and as an inquisitive type, this gives me more pleasure and motivation. See full thread

... and build mileage effectively: slow down, too
Hilly - When I first upped my mileage during marathon training I went from eight-minute miling to 10-minute miling and my legs just would not go faster. But once I'd adapted to the extra miles it got easier, until one day I went out expecting the normal struggle and found that I just flew along. Take heart! It gets better as you adapt. See full thread

Train better with friends: try 'shuttle' running
Lizzy B -If someone who is naturally faster than you wants to come along for your slower sessions, don't feel you have to go at their pace. When I run with someone faster than me, we do the run as a 'shuttle' - every time we get to a junction or corner they run back to me and 'shuttle' between me and the junction. Everyone's happy. See full thread

Run better: join a club
MartinH – If you want to improve your running, joining a club is the best thing you can do. Most clubs have members with a range of experiences, so don't worry that you'll be too slow: look in the results of the last race you did, and you'll see your local club will have several runners ahead of you, and a number behind you. See full thread

Hit goals: keep a log
Minkin – The one thing that can has helped me in achieving my goals has been monitoring my training and progress in a running log – it's very, very useful. See full thread

Race stronger: use your mind
Simon Lewis – I've realised that racing is more than just the sum of hard training miles. It's as much to do with the picture and images in my mind. Breaking 50 minutes for 10K was such a thrill that having done it once, I'm convinced I can run even quicker now.
Now, when I start to feel pain, instead of thinking, 'it's hurting', I think, 'I was expecting this; it means I'm running at a good pace now'. All the time I have a picture of a smooth flowing action in my running, and I imagine that's how other people would describe the way I look when I run. See full thread

Resist injury: run off-road
Wurzel – Trail running can help your speed: the strengthening of various muscles by running on an uneven surface should make you faster. Most of the good runners I know run off-road whenever possible. See full thread

Run smoother: focus on style
Prom - I try to keep my actions 'smooth and tidy'. I try to have an economical, fluid running style, not pumping legs and arms too hard and concentrating on keeping it all smooth, especially coming downhill. I even repeat 'smooth and tidy' over and over in my head!! See full thread

Fit more in: try an 'eight-day week'
Runner Been – Why stick to a seven-day week? I train on an eight-day schedule - training for seven days and resting for one. It does mean that your long run doesn't always fall at the weekend, but you never get bored and you don't end up with a day that you always dread. See full thread

Fit more in #2: try training twice a day
Erratic – The only way I've found to fit all the stuff in I want to do is to train twice a day - 60 to 90 minutes before work and then shorter, more intense stuff in the lunch hour. It's a matter of finding a routine that works, and being willing to swap things around. See full thread

Get fitter safely: increase distance then speed
Ironwolf – Don't try to do too much too soon – don't increase the distance of your long runs and your speedwork at the same time. Running rubbish miles just because it's on the schedule is pointless. Take a day or two off, and learn to listen to your body. See full thread

Long runs

Make marathons easier: add race-pace training
Ginger Tom – In marathon training, you should do a substantial chunk of your long run at your predicted marathon pace, to get used to that pace. You could do 10 miles easy, then eight miles at marathon pace and a two-mile cool-down. Then build up the time spent at marathon pace. See full thread

Finish long runs stronger: join a 10K race
Dustin – Depending when the race kicks off, you could do 10-15 miles beforehand. Then at least you'll be doing the 'last' 6 miles of your training run with the crowds, which will keep you going. If you decide to do the extra miles after the 10K race, make sure you run much slower than your 10K race pace. See full thread

Judge pace easily: count your steps
Lynne W - I use a quick check to make sure I'm maintaining an easy pace: if I can manage four steps to the in-breath and four steps for the out-breath then I'm okay. See full thread


Do speedwork in disguise: try a tempo-pace pyramid
Karaoke Pacer – I've always done my tempo sessions as Hal Higdon describes them: building up gradually to faster than your intended race pace (eg: 10K pace for half-marathon training), holding it there for a few minutes and then gradually slowing back down again. I enjoy these sessions: you've got a warm-up, a bit of speed and a cool-down all in one. I treat them as sort of medium-level training. Not as hard as intervals, but harder than short steady race-pace runs. See full thread

Keep speedwork simple: run at race-pace
WildWill – To improve half-marathons and 10-milers, I run one-mile intervals. For 10K, I run 1K intervals, and for anything shorter I do 400m. Likewise, the speed is governed by the race distance I am targeting. For example, for 10 miles, aiming for 60 minutes, I do mile reps at my target pace, ie: six-minute miling, with 2-2.5 minutes rest. See full thread

Keep speedwork simple #2: do Yasso 800s
Yasso 800s are simple speedwork for marathon training. You run four to six 800m efforts, each in a minutes:seconds equivalent to the hours:minutes target you have for the marathon. After each effort, take an equal-time recovery. So, a three-hour 45-minute marathoner would aim to run 4-6x800m in three minutes 45 seconds each, with a 3:45 jog recovery between each.
Jane M – You aren't supposed to run Yasso 800s as hard as you can. Instead, you should be able to complete the number you set out to do at the start. It is okay to take longer recovery periods in order to do the 800s at the pace you have set out to do. I rarely vary more than 5-10 seconds from my target time for my Yasso 800s. See full thread

...but if you can add variety...
Achilles – Any 800m speed session will be useful for marathon training. There's nothing that special about Yasso's (except that the recoveries are unusually long!)
However, it's definitely not the only speed session you should be doing, since the real key to marathon running is sustaining pace over a considerable distance. Intervals of a mile (4-6 reps), 1.5 miles (3-4 reps) and 2 miles (2-3 reps) are also important, as are tempo runs, both at target race pace and half-marathon pace. The latter improves your lactate threshold, which is of great importance. See full thread

Keep speedwork simple #3: recovery properly between efforts
Achilles – Your jog recoveries between efforts should be genuine recoveries, and if you're finding them hard, you haven't got the balance right. It's perfectly permissible to walk recoveries or even rest completely - whatever you do, the aim is to refresh yourself (fully or adequately, depending on your objectives).
The simplest tip for the recovery segment is to make sure your heart rate gets down to 130bpm before going again - don't worry about how far or how slow you have to go to make that happen.
I wouldn't advise using a treadmill's own 'interval' programme though, because it's likely to make you do recoveries that last only as long as your efforts, and that may not be long enough. The number of efforts you do (and the pace you do them at) is more relevant than the overall length of the session, which is another reason to alternate manually rather than letting the treadmill do it for you. See full thread

Get faster: do mile reps
Keswick1uk – This weekly session has helped me... but it hurts! One-mile warm up jog, then 4 x one-mile reps with five-minute recovery jogs in between. Try to keep each rep the same speed, so it gets harder as the session gets further in, and do a one-mile cool-down. I use a flat trail that has accurately marked miles. With this session I have also learned pace judgment. In race situations having some idea of how your body feels at different speeds is very useful. See full thread


Make hills less frightening: take walk breaks
Velociraptor – You needn't run the hills at first. If it takes the pressure off, and if they're decent-sized hills, walk up them the first time or two, then introduce some running. You know you've got the measure of a hill when you can run all the way up and put on a spurt of speed when you're close to the top.
Hill running involves taking shorter steps as you climb. Going uphill is biomechanically easier and safer than descending, but it doesn't half give your hams and cardio-respiratory system a good workout!
Within 6-8 weeks you'll be looking down from the top of a hill and thinking "I can't believe I used to have to walk that one". See full thread

Run hills better: seek them deliberately
Dustin – I only do hill-specific training two or three times a month. A good session is to include hills on your long run. Then, each time you come across any hills or steady inclines, run up them at a faster pace, taking a recovery jog/walk when the road levels out again. See full thread

Make hills easier: shorten your steps
Chaos – I find that focussing on picking my feet up off the ground helps, and definitely shorten your steps. You could even increase your cadence, but definitely don't let it drop. See full thread

Make hills easier #2: run equal effort
Achilles – Tips for running on hills: run with equal effort, not equal pace; drive with your arms; concentrate on lifting your knees, and keep your head up by looking at a point 20-30 yards ahead of you. See full thread

Master hilly races: combine a steady run with hillwork
Belfast Phil – To train for hilly races, I don't do just hill sessions where I run up a hill and walk down to recover. I find a hilly running route which has one exceptionally big hill in the middle, then do my run, stop at the biggest hill and do a shorter hill session on it, at quite a fast pace. But don't push so far out of comfort zone as to be in the discomfort zone - you'll still have to run home at the end of the session! See full thread

Race hills brilliantly: easy up, fast down
Nigel Coe - I never overtake anyone going uphill, but on the descent I come into my own. I try to keep relaxed, focus on the road several paces ahead, and let my feet take care of themselves. And I remember what an Austrian ski instructor once said to me: 'feel through your feeties'! For uphills, one thing that helps me a little is to imagine there is a big magnet at the top pulling me upwards. See full thread

Get focussed hill results: short for power, long for real life
Allan Fotheringham – You can take different approaches to hills. Do them as fast as you can for a power-building session, or steadily for strength endurance, which makes a great workout if you do two to five reps. They give you speed and strength. See full thread

Keep hills reps simple: plan them like speedwork
Nick J – You can transpose a standard track session, say 6x1K at 5K pace with 2-3 minutes jog recoveries in between, onto the hills. Something like running 800m uphill at 5K effort, and then jogging down to recover. It's a hard session, but you'll see the benefits. See full thread

Heart rate

Find a rhythm: use a heart rate monitor
Streaky Bacon - I use a heart rate monitor to help me hit the right pace for each run, whether it's a fast one, a long one or a recovery run. Before I got it I couldn't get into the right rhythm, but now it's a piece of cake. It's helped convince me that I'm getting fitter too, as I can look back in my training log and see how my maximum heart rate for any particular run has decreased as the weeks have gone past. See full thread

Reduce your heart rate: relax your body
Chaos - I've found that I can get my heart rate down a few beats just by focussing on relaxing and eliminating unnecessary body movements. To see if you are over-rotating your upper body, try running with your arms straight out in front of you with your hands clasped together for a few paces: you'll soon see if you are swaying too much. See full thread

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Discuss this article

It seems that with articles like this, this, this, etc, etc, that the forumites could "easily" collaborate to write a book.

If 100 people wrote one page each on things like hill running, heart rate monitor training, healthy eating, base training, treadmill running, etc, it'd be half way there in no time.

Would you be interested, and what would you write?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 08:48

That's a fab idea Foo Bar, not sure i'd want to endanger anyone with my own advice, but the more experienced runners on the site etc i'm sure have plenty of knowledge to share with the rest of us!!

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 08:51

Well - looking on the General forum, there's always lots of chat about nutrition (not gonna say diet because some people think that's a swearword).

The other main area that I'd love to see covered is motivation and how people get themselves out that door either in a morning when it's cold outside and the duvet is just toooo warm, or when you've just got home from work and have that 6 miler planned for this evening.

I'd be happy to help in anything.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 08:52

..if it worked you could even sell it and raise money for charity?!
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 08:52

I'm sure there's someone who comes on these boards that works for a book publisher... was it Aiki maybe? Sure it was something like that.

Also, a section on the lighter side of running - eg, the runners rants about dogs in all their forms, why you shouldn't stop and ask a runner for directions, etc.

Good idea about doing it for charity.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 08:56

Had the same idea for the recipe threads as well ... that could fill up a few spaces!
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 09:00

Yep - wud be a dam good idea
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 09:00

You could call it

RUNNING .... for charity

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 09:06

surely it would be

Running ... for charidy!

You spelt it wrong Will ;O)

Then some smart alec will start asking who charidy is lol.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 09:09

There you are - another chapter - Charidy Raising Ideas for those who have to raise thousands upon thousand when they get a Charidy place.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 09:09

Chapter 6: "When your cheque gets cashed". Subtitle - "how to figure out if you've got through the FLM ballot". :)
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 09:12

perhaps someone could e-mail/contact the RW people- i'mm sure they'll support it, and might give tips on how to get it going in a somewhat orderly fashion?!
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 10:11

I think a show of support would be needed first. If there aren't a couple of dozen people at least, then it's a non-starter. I don't think it would need to be limited to experts either. Most people could do a bit of research on running gadgets, distance measuring, running logs, yasso 800s or whatever, and write a page on it without being an expert...
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 10:27

What's the plot? Can it have a badger in it?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 10:31


Print the book and only get charged for the amount you sell.

But remember who you heard it from - I'd want to write a page or two in the book!
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 10:33

This page is a better one:

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 10:34

...the badger get's the girl, obviously...so that would make it fiction.

"...she turned to see the devilishly handsome 10p enter the room. He approached her, her body quivered and trembled as he went to embrace her, and she felt his hot breath on her neck. "Hello Mother" he said..."
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 10:36

I have a nice recipe for Badger soup
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 11:14

eat me...!
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 11:15

...too late, Badger. 'Gulp'

Book must have proper plot and a central character who grabs the reader's imagination (acomposite of several Forumites?). Quite a few biographies and autobiographies by runners, covering a lot of technical and procedural aspects have been written already, so that aspect of it should not be the main emphasis. But this should be accurate, fun, motivational, etc.
(I will not write, my English is carp).

Who would have the copyright,then?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 11:36

Anyway, I like the idea of fictionalizing the whole thing, but each of you have different areas of expertise to make it a "proper" book to motivate the likes of me!
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 11:39

I'm in, sounds like a really good idea, would it get free publicity in RW?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 11:44

List time!

If you're a potential contributor (no need to commit to anything yet), then stick your name down here. Note this is *not* for a novel! Let's see if we get to first base before thinking about copyright, royalties and printing :-)

So, if you think you could research and write up a page or two on on a running topic of your choice, stick your name down here:

Foo Bar
The Imp

Couldn't quite determine from the other peoples' posts whether they were yesses or not.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:00

Foo Bar
The Imp

I am not suure if I can be of any help .... but
I am a woman I can organise stuff :-)
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:05

Foo Bar
The Imp

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:09

I don't get what all this is about. I'm confussed.

You want to get forumites to all write a book on running? Aren't there already a gazillion books already on running? Don't RW have books on running?

I want you to ask yourself one question, who do you expect to read it?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:10

I'd love to help - sounds like a brilliant idea.

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:10

There are of course hundreds of books on running, and indeed runner's world have just produced another one a few days ago. In spite of all those books, it seems that people still come on to runnersworld and ask questions that they could've read in a book and give tips that are probably already in other books.

Perhaps if there was a book that you could download, search, edit and update, then there just might be some readership for it. Perhaps not.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:25

What else would you cover that Anita Bean hasn't already covered in her book on sports nutrition?

I have a few ideas for a number of articles, but I would only contribute if I can agree with the other topics.

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:26

People post stuff here because they don't want to put any effort into trawling for the information and want instant answers. There is a search function here but how many people use it?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:29

New members shouldn't be allowed to post new topics.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:30

As I understood it (may be wrong) it was more along the lines of a bit of collation of information done informally and sold for charidee ....
Recipes, hints, funnies that sort of thing rather than the direct competition with the zillions of books out there
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:38

There's probably very little that isn't in Anita's book. But it's 270 pages, so obviously it wouldn't be case of trying to be more comprehensive, but to be more selective and even point to areas of her book or other peoples' books to get further information. How about a chapter on running books? I've got Noakes, Martin and Coe, Anita Bean, Pfinzinger and other books. Would be great to have a synopsis of them in one place...
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:39

Meldy, yes something like that, but with a downloadable version too. The reason I brought up this topic was because of this headline:

"New Book! The RW Guide To Running - Published in General
1149 tips, 320 pages - your complete running companion at a mere £9.99..."

and me thinking, hang on, where did those 1149 tips come from? (you might ask why I linked from another article rather than that one? It already had a link :)
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:45

"New members shouldn't be allowed to post new topics." is my new mantra, plus a cap on the number of topics members can start per week/month.

I'm still confussed, Foo Bar is talking about an online resource and others are talking about a printed book.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:45

OK, I'll write the novel on my own then :) ...but in the end, what do people who have read both remember more, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" by Sillitoe, or yet another book about how to run, even if it is for charitable purposes?
...don't mind me

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:49

Agree with Meldy.
Rather than competing against all the other running related books we should concentrate on producing a book illustrating all that is best (and worst) of the Running World Forum. Would mean a group of forumites trawling through the archives to spot (and edit)interesting threads. As an example there was a recent funny thread on Fictitious Book titles which I have copied to include in our next club newsletter.
I'm quite happy to 'tart it up' and offer it as my 1 page contribution to the book.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:51

I have "The Loneliness....", it's a short story. The film uses "the Daddy" so, even though people associate it with Ray Winstone in Scum, it was maybe the first to put it into the public domain.

Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:54

TJ, who'd read it apart from forumites?
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:54

dodge: just because you can download it, doesn't stop you buying able to buy it. oreilly offer some books that you can download or for free or buy in hardcopy.
Posted: 23/03/2005 at 12:55

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