How to become a better runner: 5 tips from Robbie Britton
“Ideally, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys running,” says Robbie Britton of his new book, 1,001 racing tips (Â£ 20, vertebrate edition). âThere are sections that will help beginner runners. But there is a wide variety: many experienced runners who have reviewed the book said that they also learned things from reading it. ‘
Ultrarunning fans are probably familiar with Britton’s accomplishments, including a bronze medal at the 2015 24 Hour World Champions, but he hasn’t always been at the forefront and thinks this has given him a broader perspective to from which to write the book. âI came from being someone who wasn’t very good at running towards someone who was okay,â he says. âWhen I ran the Camrades Marathon in South Africa, I was right in the back and beaten by a man in one of those rhino outfits that weighs about six stones. So I accumulated a wealth of knowledge at the front of the field, in the middle and, sometimes, near the back.
If the idea of ââa book titled 1,001 racing tips seems a little dry, think again. Britton’s irreverent writing style and hard-earned wisdom results in a book that manages to be both very practical and a lot of fun. âMy mantra while writing the book was: good advice doesn’t have to be boring,â he says. âI have some really good training manuals that I have picked up a few times but eventually used as a doorstop. If people want to use my book as a doorstop, that’s okay – doorstops are important, especially when it’s drafty in the winter – but hopefully it will. a book they will read and enjoy.
Here are Briton’s five tips for becoming a better runner.
Train for time, not distance
âNot all miles or kilometers are equal. A mile with a hill will not be as fast as a mile on the flat. So if you try to run 10 miles, and one route has 1,500 feet elevation and the other doesn’t, they’re very different routes. The more hilly run may take you 20 minutes longer, so it’s 20 minutes more training. It’s not just the pitch either. If it’s very hot, for example, your seven-mile run might take 70 minutes instead of 60 minutes. Time also takes into account how you feel. If you’re flattered but know you need to do an hour-long run, you might go a little less distance than usual. But your body, at the cellular level, doesn’t have a GPS watch: “Oh wait, I was going to improve, but it only did 6.7 miles instead of 7, so I won’t. . “
Trust the toilet queue
âThe closer you get to the start time, the more likely you are to quit the bathroom queue, but you shouldn’t. Let’s say there are four people in front of you. In your mind, they’re all going to look for a number two, and they all have a newspaper that they’re going to read, and the one before you is going to use the last piece of toilet paper. But as it gets closer two of them will bottle it and leave the queue, one of them only needs a pee (they should have been in the other file anyway), and before you know it, you’re there. The moral: trust the queue. ‘
Not all shoes wear out after 500 miles
âIt varies depending on the individual and the way you run. One of the runners I coach, Dan Lawson; broke records for shoes you wouldn’t wear for gardening. If you have a certain way of running that wears out parts of a shoe then, yes, it can increase the risk of injury. But the industry relies on us to get new shoes every time they adopt a new colourway. Or there is a 19e editing a shoe that hasn’t changed, or they’ve changed it in a way that made it worse. âYou need the latest version of this. “But is it twice as heavy?” “Well, we had to change something about it, so we made it terrible.” “Oh thank you.”‘
You can also train your instincts
âEvery discussion I have with runners ultimately turns to food. Fast marathon runners have said things to me like, âLook at Ron Hill, he ate eggs and potatoes before a race, and he ran 2:10. I said, “It might have been good for Ron Hill, but you’re not Ron Hill, so maybe try something different.” The truth is, rhythm and nutrition are intrinsically linked. We could all eat eight gels sitting on the couch, but you might not be able to do that while running at the pace of the marathon. Fortunately, you can train your gut to absorb carbohydrates better while running. I like to throw it into threshold and interval work in the weeks leading up to a race. If your stomach can handle a freeze during interval training, it should go to mile 20 of a marathon. It’s a good workout because it’s another very stressful environment.
Take a long-term view of injuries
âWith some injuries, let’s say a stress fracture, you know roughly how long it will take to heal. But some injuries are more difficult to diagnose. On a daily basis, we don’t really see the difference. Runners want to feel this progression every day. But sometimes you have to take a step back and say, âTwo months ago, I couldn’t run 5 km. Now I can run 20 km. I can’t run 30 km yet, but it’s still progress.
1,001 racing tips by Robbie Britton is now available.
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