Spring Into Action

Give your running a spring clean with these top training tips

Posted: 6 March 2009
by Alice Palmer

Spring's the perfect time to pick up the pace – or the pieces – of your running regime. The weather's warming up, and runners' diaries will be packed with top racing opportunities over a huge range of distances and terrains.

Whether you're worried about leaving the treadmill, fitting running into a jam-packed diary or dehydrating in the heat, grab the opportunity to have a spring clean while the weather's nice and the race calendar is bulging.

Try something new and refocus your running, ready for the rest of the year. By the time summer arrives you'll be able to see a real difference.

I'm used to running on a treadmill, and worried that running outside will be much harder. Plus I'm dreading being on public view!

Treadmills are a very soft and easy surface to run on – so it's generally a good idea to recreate outdoor conditions as much as possible on the treadmill by setting it to a 1% incline or increasing the speed slightly, to adapt slowly to outdoor running. When you do get going outside, gradually get yourself used to the change by starting on a soft surface like grass or trails.

If you'd feel more comfortable with company, why not team up with a friend? Get them to show you their favourite route, or join a club, which guarantees you running buddies, great routes and expert advice and coaching.

And remember, people will generally be too wrapped up in themselves to notice you. Concentrate instead on the positive – if the world can see you, you can see the world! After running in front of the telly in the gym, the changing scenery on your new routes will leave you no chance to get bored or worry about what other people are thinking.

I need to run first thing in the morning. But not only is it hard to get up so early, I'm worried that running first thing will be slow and put me at risk of injury.

Start slowly and let the run come to you – walk first, gently jog and then speed up until you hit the right pace. Your muscles will have warmed up by the time you run full pelt, and you won't demand too much of stiff muscles, which can cause injury. To avoid muscle soreness later on, warm down thoroughly and stretch after running.

Nutrition is also key for early-morning runners. Have an early breakfast so you don't conk out halfway round, and drink plenty of water before you leave. If you can't face eating so early, take a sports drink or a banana smoothie to sip as you run, and make sure you refuel within 20 minutes of finishing your run.

And you can feel suitably smug – runners bottle out of training sessions later in the day as reasons not to run stack up. Morning runners tend to miss fewer sessions and feel satisfied for the rest of the day having already ticked off their training.

As the weather gets warmer, do I need to drink more?

Studies have shown that fluid loss has twice the negative effect on cardiac performance in hot weather as it does in cold weather. To maintain your performance you therefore need to pay special attention to your hydration needs.

As it gets warmer, it's a good idea to do a sweat test (weigh yourself before and after your run to see how much fluid you've lost). As the temperature increases, your body will lose more fluid as sweat, leaving you more at risk of dehydration, and a sweat test will let you know exactly how much you need to take in to replace it.

As temperatures rise, the combination of this dehydration plus a higher body temperature leads to lowered aerobic performance. Your heart rate will increase, and more blood will be diverted to the skin to cool you down – which means there's less blood available to take oxygen and fuel to your busy muscles. So take it easy, keep an eye on your heart rate and make sure you've got a bottle of water to hand – or even better, a sports drink that contains rehydrating electrolytes.

After a winter without much running, how can I regain my old form and enthusiasm?

There's some truth in that old running adage, "the difference between a jogger and a runner is a completed entry form" – very little does more for your motivation that the thought of lining up for a race underprepared. You might be raring to get out on the track for the summer athletics season, looking for a new-year PB, or focusing on an autumn marathon. Either way, now's the time to get planning – there are plenty of choices in the UK racing calendar or that once-in-a-lifetime race overseas.

If you're not ready to train for a race, focus on the quality of your running rather than obsessing about the quantity. Diving into daily speedwork would almost definitely be disastrous for your training, but why not give a new training session, technique or route a try? If you're in a training rut, sprinkle your routine with one of these sessions every now and again.

Fun Fartlek: Run alternately at a sprint, jog and walk between trees – unless you're in the woods! In which case, use other stationary objects. Or if you're in the urban jungle, every time you're passed by a red car start running fast. Slow down when you're passed by another, and so on. The unpredictability of these fartlek workouts will keep your interest high, as well as the quality of your training.

Magical Mystery Tour: Stop plodding those same old well-worn paths. Instead, why not get a friend to drive you somewhere and drop you off? You'll definitely finish the session – how else will you get home?

Give it a month and see the difference in your enthusiasm when you inject some excitement into your routine.


Spring is the runner’s dream training time, with its cool weather and racing opportunities. So get outside for all the joys of the season – we guarantee it’ll put the spring back into your step!

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Discuss this article

I have been running regualrly outdoors for about six weeks now and I can't believe how much I have improved. - I run about 5k three times a week.

In order to improve, do you think I should increase my distance or my speed?

I would really like to enter a 10k race, but know I need to improve still.


Posted: 17/03/2009 at 16:54

Increase distance but slow down a tad. It's all about being able to do the miles not how fast you can do them
Posted: 17/03/2009 at 16:58

Thanks. Its easy to get a bit carried away with things. I still puff and pant but in my head i'm Paula R.

How long does it take before you feel like you are a 'proper' runner?

Posted: 17/03/2009 at 17:05

Don't have the answer BUT after a winter lay-off my 4 mile run which was taking around 40 mins took 48 mins last night.

Like you In my head I am an athlete but my body has not yet got the message. I am going totry running 3 times a week and hope that my times/fitness improves.

Posted: 19/03/2009 at 11:15

I didn't feel like a 'proper' runner till i'd done my 1st race. I gues it varies for eveyone but having that goal to finish a race was what got me to it and after that it is trying to better the time you did it previously
Posted: 19/03/2009 at 11:51

If you're increasing your distance then make sure it's not more than 10% per week. i.e. 5km runs one week, 5.5km runs the next etc. Increasing it too much too quickly will cause injury. I should know!
Posted: 19/03/2009 at 12:58

Thanks for the advice. Sometimes I feel like my body plays tricks on me.

I go for a really good run and feel amazing afterwards, then do the same run a week later and feel like death. - I think my body wants to lull me into a false sense of security and then when I start getting cocky it goes ..... HAH! Got you! Go back to trotting at a snail's pace.

I am a bit scared about entering a race as I am worried I might end up in some super fast sprint and feel rubbishy at the end. - How do you know if a race will be supportive of first timers? Do you just have to go and find out?

Posted: 19/03/2009 at 13:59

Hi Verity

Don’t compare yourself to your last run, compare yourself to how you ran last month. That way you will see improvements. We all have good runs and bad runs, it is par for the course, just don’t let the bad ones out you off.  

Have a look at the events calendar on here to find a race you fancy, then if you look on the website for that race you will be able to find last years results. The events ratings on here have a beginner’s friendliness rating as well I think. But in any 10k you will have people that do it near 30 mins and some people that take closer to an hour and 30 mins. Don’t worry about that the first step is just to go out and do it.

Posted: 19/03/2009 at 14:07

that's reassuring. I guess I should just take the plunge.

Thanks for the tip about the events calendar. Will definitely have a gander.


Posted: 19/03/2009 at 20:13

Verity, sounds to me like you are doing great! i know what you mean, sometimes during a run my body actually feels like Paula Radcliffe and other days my body does not feel like it belongs to me at all!

 The events calender is great i found a perfect 10k run local to me for my first event and a duathlon in October which is my main goal. This is such a great way to get some focus and motivation.

Posted: 21/03/2009 at 18:58

Hi Verity, I have just read all the replys related to your first message and felt quietly reassured and relieved that I am not the only one with nervous doubts about this running lark!!

I too run one day like I am training for 2012 then the next run can hardly get to the end of my street. This uncertainty makes me doubt my ability too and worry if I enter a race it may be a day when I cannot run, then how demotivating would that be!!!

However, I have entered a race, apparently a hilly one at that. The Marie Curie,Daffodil run, Kelmarsh on 10th May.

I really want to run it all and not walk, even if it takes all day. I did a 5k earlier this year and found the pace quite fast and the runners very serious, so I am hoping charity runs maybe bring out less serious competition and more encouraging and fun.

P.S Has anyone got any tips for Kelmarsh, for a novice like me!!

Posted: 15/04/2009 at 20:06

Race for life 5k is a good fun race and not full of competitive people.

 I've done 5k's 10'k and a couple of times each and this year I've entered 2 x half marathons, June and Oct!! No idea if I can even finish but I find if you try you surprise yourself. 

I'm still doing small 5k's this year and a 4 mile run dressed as a nun next month. If you enter it's a good insentive to keep improving. 

But as people say, go distance and slowly and you will see improvemnets over time. 

Good luck guys

Posted: 15/04/2009 at 20:14

A Nun, wow, dont trip over your habit! That will be all you need!!
Posted: 15/04/2009 at 20:30

It's worth mentioning that there are some Race for Life 10K's about. I'm doing one in Leicester in July as my first race. I figured that it would be mostly full of people like me, so there's less a chance of me being right at the back
Posted: 16/04/2009 at 05:51

Hi All

that has happened to me this week, after the easter choc fest this week is like I have never ran before, its very strange, its like my body wont work. I am doing the race for life 5k in May and want to do a 10k this year so you all sound encouraging

Posted: 18/04/2009 at 21:15

Lisa Humphrey 4 wrote (see)

Hi All

that has happened to me this week, after the easter choc fest this week is like I have never ran before, its very strange, its like my body wont work. I am doing the race for life 5k in May and want to do a 10k this year so you all sound encouraging

It'll be just a blip. Sometimes you fall off the wagon a bit and have a crap couple of runs, but it will come back again and you'll get back on form. Just keep going
Posted: 19/04/2009 at 10:36

Hi there

Ok did the 5k in 29mins so am training for a 10K in July any tips



Posted: 29/05/2009 at 17:44

Hi all

The common thread seems to be having good runs and bad runs for no apparent reason,believe me as you progress with your running this will never change, it just happens.As for entering your first race just do it then you have a target to aim for. I always have the incentive of a race to keep my training going.

I hope you find a suitable 10k Verity

Good time for your 5k Lisa,what training are you doing at present for your 10k plunge,what ever it is it seems to be working.


Posted: 29/05/2009 at 18:35

Hi Jimma

Currently running 3 times a week with 2 strength training workouts. I vary the running only doing one longer steady run a week with my friend who, because she runs slower than me makes me pace myself better. I think we are going to increase by a k each week, the race is July 26th so my aim is to run this in under an hour with a bit of luck. I love doing interval runs they are my favourite and I opt for these when I am most tired cause I dont feel like I am constantly running.

Could I improve on this da think ???


Posted: 30/05/2009 at 18:04

Hi Lisa

Sounds to me as if you have a very sensible plan,one longer steady run during which you pace yourself well and you plan to increase this gradually,good thinking.I'm pleased to hear that you enjoy interval training that is not one of my favourites but it is the best way to improve on speed,how do you manage to do intervals when you feel most tired? What intervals do you run.

One other option would be a short tempo run to get you used to running at a faster pace over a slightly longer distance.

You have about 8 weeks of training before your race and so with your time of 29min. for your 5k I can see you getting under the hour.

Keep training well        jimma

Posted: 30/05/2009 at 19:25

 Thanks for the encouragment Jimma

I run 2 mins sprint with a min walk inbetween at the moment and I do this over 20 mins I know its very wierd to do this when I am tired but I do it cause I get the little rest inbetween instead of constant running.

What sort of distance would be better for a tempo run ?



Posted: 30/05/2009 at 19:42


You could gradually increase one of the 2 min fast in your 20 min to maybe 2.5 or 3 min just to get you used to running faster.Do you know if you manage to cover the same distance in each 2min fast or are you  tiring by the end.The idea of intervals is to do the same distance in the same time for each one and not to go flat out in the first few and then slow up.


Posted: 30/05/2009 at 20:08

oh right its easier on a treadmill to do that but must admit I do tire towards the end so maybe going to fast will try and slow up a bit and go longer lol will get the hang of it

Thanks for advice


Posted: 30/05/2009 at 22:39

Hi hope the speed work goes well,you could measure out 400m and cover that in 2min,have a min. walk or slow jog and then do the 400m again,do this 4-6 times each interval taking you 2min and see how you find it.

Another work out could be a run at race pace If you hope to do 10k in 60min this is 6min per k.Measure out a kilometer and run it in 6min.This gets you used to running at the pace you hope to aim for.This could be gradually increased.

Good luck.


Posted: 31/05/2009 at 19:55

Ok will definately try these suggestions, will let you know how its going

Thanks You loads



Posted: 31/05/2009 at 21:05

Hi there

Have managed to run my first 10k distance during one of my long steady runs, am well pleased but need to improve the time was 1hr 15mins and my legs hurt after only for a day tho so happy days


Posted: 13/06/2009 at 00:31

Lisa Humphrey 4 wrote (see)

Hi there

Have managed to run my first 10k distance during one of my long steady runs, am well pleased but need to improve the time was 1hr 15mins and my legs hurt after only for a day tho so happy days


Well done Lisa!

 I'm training for a 10k next month, and can now run 5k  but need to increase my distance, so I've just read this thread with great interest!

Looks like I need to   s  l  o  w   my pace down, as I run quite happily, but then run out of puff at about 7K and have to fit in a walk.

Posted: 15/06/2009 at 21:29

Hi There

keep going and let me know how you do, have you got someone you can run with I have found that fab as you do tend to keep going for longer also my friend always seems to find interesting routes, if left to me I tend to run the same old favourites.

Good Luck



Posted: 15/06/2009 at 21:51

Hi Lisa,

 I'm hoping to run with a friend, but as we're both self-employed we can find time to dash out on our own, but organising anything together is tricky!

I've been playing with my new Garmin Forerunner 50 (eBay bargain!) and looking at the data from my run yesterday. I'm thinking I need to slow my pace down, as I'me currently starting at a higher pace and then dropping down. So, next time I go out, will aim for a 6 min km which would mean I would complete the 10K in 1 hour (hmm - not entirely sure that's achievable, but its good to have a target, isn't it!)

Still need to calibrate my new toy (mapometer showed my route as 9K, my forerunner reckoned it was 9.5!)

Let me know how *you* get on as well!

Posted: 16/06/2009 at 12:28

ohh I really want one of those garmin things how much was it.

I also want to do it in 1hour but not sure I can either



Posted: 16/06/2009 at 18:34

It was £65 for the watch, HRM *and* footpod  It is a second hand one, but that doesn't bother me at all!!! There are loads on there, mostly new, and much cheaper if you don't want both HRM and footpod.

I drove a section of one of my runs today, and measured out exactly 2 miles, so I'll run that tomorrow and get the thing calibrated properly... [slopes off  to read instruction book to make sure I do it properly, and don't just make it worse!]

Posted: 16/06/2009 at 21:27

lol I have bought a very cheap HRM that I bought an used for the first time on sunday but it only gives me basic stuff although it is ok, so I am hoping that my husband buys me one for my birthday.

Going for a run tomorrow maybe hiill work and then a long one on thursday never feel like it tho lol


Posted: 16/06/2009 at 21:40

Hi Lisa and B&T I hope your training goes well for your 10k.You say Lisa that you ran a 10k during a long steady run.How far was the run in total.I know that if I included a 10k run into one of my long runs the time would not be good.Be careful not to push yourself too much that can have a negitive affect

I hope you have fun with your Garmin B&T


Posted: 16/06/2009 at 21:52

Hi there Jimma

Last week we ran 10.5k in 1hour 15 mins and then an 8k two days later.. we didnt plan to run it all but we just did by accident really, felt ok tho, not quite sure I understand what you mean tho. Really on my plan we should have only been on 8k last week and 8.5 or 9K this week. should we not jump like this really I know it doesnt follow the 10% rule


Posted: 16/06/2009 at 22:03

Lisa Humphrey 4 wrote (see)

Hi there Jimma

Last week we ran 10.5k in 1hour 15 mins and then an 8k two days later.. we didnt plan to run it all but we just did by accident really, felt ok tho, not quite sure I understand what you mean tho. Really on my plan we should have only been on 8k last week and 8.5 or 9K this week. should we not jump like this really I know it doesnt follow the 10% rule



 As far as I'm aware, the 10% increase rule is to help protect yourself from injury. I would think as long as it feels okay, and you're doing plenty of stretching afterwards, and don't forget to fit in some rest days / easier runs as well


As soon as I get away from the pooter I'm off to calibrate my toy   4 mile run, I'll be trying my best to *keep* at 6 min km pace all the way !

Posted: 17/06/2009 at 09:24

Hi there both

Well going out in the rain now for a short fast one I think, then a lovely well deserved lunch with my friends yummmmmm


Posted: 17/06/2009 at 11:16

Yum - sounds like fun! (The lunch that is!) How did the short, fast one go?

 Right - my footpod is calibrated, ran my measured 2 miles to do it. Then switched to Train mode, and ran the 2 miles back. I kept an eye on my pace - it was interesting to see how it varied, between up incline & down the other side, and also how it improved when I had to run past a large group of gossiping villagers (oh the woes of living in a small village!)

Got back home, and felt so good I ran *past* my house (totally unprecidented) just for a few more minutes, and then turned and ran back home.

Downloaded all the data (so much fun - I'm such a geek ) and found out I ran 7.5K non stop! Not sure on the timing, because I couldn't time the first 2 miles, but think it was about 54 mins.

 SO - I must have managed to keep my pace down, my HR didn't go as high as it did last time, I ran further, but slower - which is what I was aiming to do.

VERY pleased with myself - and still got 3 weeks before the race!

Posted: 17/06/2009 at 13:25

Oh well done fab going, we only ran about 4K today in about 25mins but that did include a huge hill which I struggled on I must say and my heart rate went over 170 so it must have been hard. Going for our long run tomorrow so about 9k I think.

I really want a garmin  must get one soon



Posted: 17/06/2009 at 14:01


Sorry Lisa I misunderstood you when you said you ran 10k during a long steady run I thought you ment that you had run a long run say 15k and included a 10k run silly me.Your training seems to be going well,impressed with your 170 HR you take it easy.

T& B I also get a lot of use out of my Garmin espicially distance and time measurements with average pace for the run.I do find that the pace measured during a run does jump about a bit.Good to hear you doing some running at 6min/k but don't do all your runs at this pace do some easy runs as well.Most of your runs should be at 60-70% effort.

I can see the 60min 10k in sight.


Posted: 17/06/2009 at 20:30

oh lol not to worry, thinkin of doing a half marthon in october will see how my training goes


Posted: 17/06/2009 at 20:38

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