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Training Tips

How to be a better runner, get fitter and keep going for longer


Here are 10 top ways to improve your training and run your best race ever...

keep going


Having a goal to work towards is one of the best ways to stay motivated, for example by entering a race. Knowing the event is on the horizon will push you to train on those days when staying in sitting on the sofa feels now appealling.


Don't just focus on the running in your training plan. Think about your diet too. What you eat can have a big impact on how you perform in training and racing.

Include carbs to fuel long runs and extra protein to aid recovery after a hard session. Practise what you intend to eat on the morning of a race in training so you can be sure it agrees with your digestive system and provides the energy you need to keep going.


This involves doing hard repetitions of exercise for a certain amount of time followed by a short recovery, for example running hard for a minute with a 30 second recovery ten times or three times a mile with a two minute recovery in between.

This kind of interval training has been proven to improve running pace. Explaining why it works, John Porcari, the lead researcher on a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse study into why high intense workouts are so effective said: 'What it all boils down to is over-training specific metabolic systems - you can only run a race at a certain pace for so long and when you do high-intensity interval training you shift that threshold up. It’s why elite athletes do intervals.'


nell coverModel Nell McAndrew, who has an impressive marathon PB of 2 hours 54 minutes, recommends weightlifting to improve strength, posture and stamina.

In her Bloomsbury published Guide To Running co-written with Running Feat's Lucy Waterlow, she said doing this type of exercise has improved her athletic performance in races.

She explains: 'If you want to tone up and get a stronger and leaner body then I recommend pumping iron! In the past, weightlifting in the gym was seen as a male domain but now more and more women are discovering that you can look and feel great from using weights.

'I would recommend training with a qualified personal trainer initially as they can help you find your strengths as well as your weaknesses in order to achieve your goals and they will ensure you are doing the exercises correctly.

'Regular strength and weight training can help prevent injury and having a strong, toned body can help you maintain your form as you get tired towards the end of a race.'


Many runners find listening to music can help them stay motivated and in a good running rhythm.

Listening to your own music when training can help the miles pass more quickly, but always try and stay aware of your surroundings.

Some races bans particpiants from wearing headphones for safety reasons but you can still get into the groove if they have bands along the route, or by savouring the sounds of the cheering crowds.


amy london marathonRunning well isn't just about being physically strong, you need to be mentally tough too. Running Feat's Amy Whitehead, an elite marathon runner who ran for England in the Commonwealth Games, advises having a positive mantra you can repeat in your head as you run to spur you on, such as 'I can, I am'.

She adds: 'In marathons and half marathons it can be particularly tough to stay strong and to keep pushing yourself to keep running well.

'It helps if you can break the run up into sections and just focus on getting to the next mile or the next landmark instead of thinking about how far it is to the finish. One technique I use to break up the race is to dedicate each mile to a loved one and then I think about them during that mile, as doing them proud keeps me going.'


If training has gone well you should be feeling super fit and ready to race by the big day so don't let minor discomforts derail your PB.

This is something Made In Chelsea star Ashley James has learnt after completing a number of races from 10ks to a marathon. She said: 'Running for a long time is tough on your body, but for me the biggest pain I’ve suffered is from my toe nails rubbing into the sides of my toes.

It sounds obvious to say, but so many people don’t consider it, so make sure your toe nails are cut short with no sharp edges.'

Former editor of Women's Running magazine Christina Macdonald agrees, as she says you could even lose a toenail in a long distance race if you're not careful.

In her book Run Yourself Fit she warns: 'If your running shoes are too tight and the toes are rubbing against the ends of your shoes, it can cause repeated trauma to the nail.

'When the black nail is bruised and becomes separated from the nail bed, eventually it will fall off. Buying at least one shoe size larger should help avoid the problem.'


A classic mistake many novice runners make is to go off too fast at the start when they feel fresh and the adrenaline is pumping. This can lead to 'blowing up' as your body can't sustain the fast pace for the entire race and fatigues more quickly due to the effort needed to go that quick. As a result, you will then get slower and struggle to finish.

Start off at a pace that feels comfortable, even a little easy, and then if you feel you have more to give after half way pick up the speed.


holly at london marathonWhen the going gets tough in a race, having people cheer you on can really lift your spirits and help you make it to the finish.

Encourage friends and family to come and support you on the day and find out in advance which points they intend to be watching at. Knowing they are at a certain mile marker will push you to reach that point to see them.

You should also write your name on your vest so people who don't know you can still cheer you on for some extra encouragement.


There's no feeling quite like crossing the finish line of a race as you'll experience pride, relief and triumph. Knowing you have completed a challenge you set yourself will give you the famous 'runner's high' and make any pain experienced while running disappear.

So if you are struggling to keep going in a race, keep visualising the finish and the elation you will feel when you cross the line.

You could also plan in advance a post race treat to have after you've finished to keep you motivated to keep going – such as a glass of wine or a slice of chocolate cake.

Whatever your plans to celebrate, don't forget to take along your race medal and show it off with pride to anyone and everyone, you deserve it!