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A Running Specialist’s tips for achieving your New Year running goals

Whatever your running experience and ambition this new year, the fundamentals of starting an intense phase of running are the same. In this article, we aim to equip you with the information you need to reach your goal safely, injury-free, and with enjoyment.

January is often a time that people will take their first steps towards a new running goal – whether to put a pair of running shoes on and head out of the door for the first time or to kick off a new phase of training for a long-anticipated dream such as the London Marathon. Here we share some hints and tips, from our resident running specialist, Tom, to get you started.

Plus, our Runners Quick Slots are free in December and January!

We are running specialists and work with runners of all abilities, experience, and goals, whether that’s to shave seconds or minutes from a personal best or to walk/run without issue just for pleasure.

Set your running goals – whatever your ability and experience

A running goal could be as clear-cut as achieving a personal best at the London Marathon, or it might be that you just want to run three times a week with your friends and have fun doing it. Visualising a goal however big or small helps to keep you focused on what is important, feeds into your running training plan, and keeps your running relevant and enjoyable.

Always have a running training plan

Even if you don’t have a race in the diary or a distance to achieve, you will benefit greatly from having a running training plan. In our opinion, the single most important reason for having a running plan is to achieve your goal injury-free. A good running plan is written with the right balance of training, strength, rest and recovery. It provides the baseline on which to measure your improvement and the variables that can be adjusted according to feedback, such as performance or problem/ injury.

Running shoes are important, but not THAT important

We running specialists have a saying; “form before footwear”. Sure, your shoes are important – they have to suit the way your foot strikes the ground and absorb the shock of doing so, they have to fit well and be appropriate for your type of training. There is no shoe that can correct what most runners have difficulty with – and that is the problems associated with weak and imbalanced muscular strength in the hips and legs. It is an everyday occurrence for us to treat runners with lower limb injuries that are nothing to do with the shoe they’re running in and everything to do with muscle weakness and poor running technique.

Running is only part of running well – do the strength work

The mileage that you clock up in your running training is only part of what will get you to your goal. Strength and conditioning is often neglected in favour of getting miles under the belt. Strength and conditioning will reduce your risk of injury by maintaining muscle mass, correcting muscle imbalances and improving muscle activation, as well as increasing the efficiency of your running biomechanics resulting in enhanced running performance.

Work with a running specialist

Partnering with a sports therapist or running specialist who really understands running can take your training to the next level, reduce injury risk and make running more enjoyable. A running specialist will work with you to improve your strength and develop your technique with the application of cues, running drills and exercises specifically for you and your goals. They draw on their knowledge of injury mechanisms, movement patterns and rehabilitation to provide you with bite-size chunks of homework for your running training plan.

Invest in regular sports therapy treatment

There is no doubt that running is great for you – there is growing evidence that states there are physiological benefits attributed to regular running, such as improvements to bone health, in addition to the boost that it gives our mental health. However, regular running does place stresses on the body’s soft tissues and joints, and the progressive overload that regular running creates can lead to injury if issues aren’t routinely addressed. Buddying up with a sports therapist who has in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms behind injury and has the skills to address them in regular treatment sessions can improve overall soft-tissue and joint health, speed up post-training recovery and even enhance your performance.

Listen to your body and keep running injuries at bay

It’s really important to tune into your body and deal with niggles as soon as they arise. Learning to self-treat minor problems with strength exercises, taping techniques, and mobility work is important, and if you’re unable to nip a problem in the bud, then it’s time to call your sports therapist. It is also vital to rest when you are experiencing a cold or any illness. Your body is having a tough enough time fighting a virus or infection, it doesn’t need additional stress!

Eat well and understand the basics of sports nutrition

The basics of sports nutrition around running training are super simple – fuel with carbohydrates and recover with protein and carbohydrates whilst keeping your hydration levels optimal. It doesn’t need to be rocket science, but it could increase in complexity as your running volume develops or if you have special dietary requirements. Consider seeing a sports nutritionist if you need help.

Run both on your own, and with running friends

Find a mix of running that suits you – there are benefits of running both on your own and with buddies. Running solo allows you to concentrate on your running goals, do the development drills and efforts that are particular to your running training plan. Running with friends is of course, is very enjoyable and supportive. Great friendships are formed in club running and having the support and mentorships from those who have been there and done that can really benefit you. Plus, we all feel good after a run with our mates!

Stay safe when running alone

Always plan your route in advance, let somebody know where you are going and what time you expect to return. There are a number of ways for your loved ones to track you whilst you’re out and about – use a running tracking app to give yourself and them peace of mind.

Be YOUR best – stay in your lane!

Finally, your running is about YOU and you alone. We see so many people who feel that the pace they’re running isn’t fast enough, that their body type isn’t as good as somebody else’s, or that they’re not as naturally talented as somebody else. This sort of negative self-talk is derogatory, counterproductive and very unkind! Always concentrate on why you’re running – keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, and when you tick them all off as completed, you’ll realise how well you are developing, and that feels amazing.

We would love to support you, Runners Quick Slots are free in December and January!

If you would like some support with your new year running goals we would love to buddy up with you. We offer a whole host of running support services, from one-to-one coaching and analysis to injury rehabilitation. To get started, you might like to book in for a Runners Quick Slot, which is free in January. Runners Quick Slots are perfect if you need to pick the brains of our running specialist Tom Boggon whilst getting a quick injury check, your form looked at, or some advice on your planning.