Top Running Tips from an Ultra-Marathoner

By: Ina & Brent Holmen

The first thing any runner must do is examine their WHY? Running is not for everyone, but for those of you who can mentally “escape” when you run, it no longer becomes a workout that you dread doing. Running can become a personal quality time to reflect and ponder on life! However, like any physical pursuit, it may start off as uncomfortable and difficult. Hang in there! It gets better.

Tip #1

Find a time that works best for your lifestyle and dedicate it to your run.

Wear proper gear. A supportive running shoe is going to create a pleasant experience for you, but more importantly, a sturdy supportive shoe will prevent injury. There are many knowledgeable running stores who can assist you with the purchase of a great pair of shoes suited to your running style. Running is a high impact sport and requires shoes that withstand constant jarring.

Tip #2

Dress is also important. Wear light, breathable layers. Use a body glide for areas that may chafe. Nothing will shut down a run like a blister! On cool days, dress at least 10 degrees cooler than the air temperature. For example, if it is -25, dress as if it were -15. This will allow your body to run at a comfortable temperature once it has warmed up. In warmer climates, stay away from the hottest part of the day to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. On hot days, expect to run slower or shorter distances.

Tip #3

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a beginner to the sport, listen to your body. Overuse is one of the leading causes of injury to runners. Like any sport it can be an addictive activity and continual use of the same muscles for prolonged periods of time can cause long and permanent damage. Make sure you take rest days and change things up with a bit of cross training. Weights are a great way to complement your running, as well as flexibility work.

Tip #4

Make sure you stay hydrated. If you feel thirsty when you are running, it is too late, you are already dehydrated. Make sure you are hydrated before you begin running, especially if it is a long-distance course. For example, during a distance race where water stations are available, take a drink even if you do not feel thirsty.

If you are new to running, start with a walk/run mix. Keep the distance and time fairly short to begin, then add more distance as you progress. As your fitness improves, take fewer or no walk breaks and try to run a distance without stopping.

Tip #5

Start with a slow but sustainable pace. Essentially this means starting at a pace that you know you can finish at. Don’t let your excitement lead you to start out too fast! This will usually lead to early exhaustion and frustration. In fact, a good rule is to always try and run a “negative split”. This means run the second part of your run faster than the first. Work toward improving your running time and distance. Remember that everyone is different, so fast or slow is relative to each individual. The objective is to enjoy YOUR run and achieve YOUR running goals.

Tip #6

Don’t be discouraged if you have a bad run or a series of bad runs. This is perfectly normal. Eventually your body will shake off the funk and the enjoyment will return. Be patient and try not to judge yourself too harshly. It is often fun to run with someone but be careful- no two people run the same so your pace may not be compatible with someone else or vice versa. This can lead to injury or frustration, so be aware.

Tip #7

Goal setting is also a fabulous way to motivate. If comfortable doing so, enter a fun run or a race that will keep your focus on regular training. Runs are usually 5, 10, or 20 kilometers in length and can incorporate a wide range of novelty formats (relays, costumes, etc.). If you feel ready, look around for an appropriate run to enter. Travel running is super easy. All you need is your regular running gear and a destination. Chances are your gear would be coming along anyway. For the really ambitious, half marathon and full marathon distances are a real challenge (21.1km or 42.2km). Training for these distances requires a further level of commitment and fitness. Generally speaking, if you can run half the distance on a regular basis, then double that is achievable.

So, these tips are running in a nutshell. If you decide to take on the world of running, best of luck and have fun!