Just being out there and run is great and has so many advantages. Over the more than 10 years I’m regularly running now, it has become more than just being healthy and enjoy the runs. I had time to try out so many things and learned so much about the sport I got addicted to.
So I took the time to put together 101 things you should try within your running career that hopefully spans across many decades.
If you miss something in this list, just let me know in the comments section.
Ok, let’s get started.
If you wanna set one running goal for your life, then choose this one. Running a marathon can well be a life changing experience.
If you want to run, run a mile.
If you want a new life, run a marathon
– Emil Zatopek
If you don’t know your body too well and how it feels when running at different heart rate zones, do yourself a favor and train with a heart rate monitor. It’s one of the best investment if you want to improve as a runner.
Check out this post to learn how to do heart rate training.
Sure just running for fun is great, I still love to go out every once in a while without a training goal whatsoever. But if you’re working towards a specific goal and want to keep up a regular running routine, you should plan your training in advance.
Keeping a running log has many advantages. It lets you compare if you met your training plan and goals and helps you getting to know your body better. If you’re into multi hour runs, you can learn what kind of equipment, nutrition and hydration needs you need to satisfy.
There’s still a controversy around stretching. However I think for most runners it’s one of the best things to do after an intense training session to start recover and balance your muscles. Stretch at least your calves, quads, hamstrings and hip muscles 2×30 seconds each.
Running in the early morning is a great way to start a day. After a morning workout you’re awake and activated to take on the challenges of the day. Also in summer it’s a good way to avoid the hot temperatures of the afternoon.
Make sure you prepare your running clothes and all you need for your morning run, before you go to bed.
For millions of years humans used to walk and run barefoot or in minimal footwear like sandals. As a runner trying out minimal footwear every once in a while is a great way to train your foot and calf muscles.
Check out the pro and cons of barefoot running in this post.
Working on a 3-month training program and succeed at it is great. But to keep your motivation up for years, set yourself a long-term running goal. This is in the beginning more a dream than a goal but as you keep training and improving over the years it becomes more and more a goal you might actually achieve.
I love running alone and enjoy this me-time. But it’s also great to have some company on your training runs. Convince a friend to start running with you and preferably train for the same goal or race.
If you wanna prevent injuries and make running feel as easy as sitting on the couch, regular strength training is a must. Try to train your core, leg and foot muscles two times a week. To help you on very long distances, trail races with poles and a back pack or just to get your arms involved in the forward motion, try also to train your upper body.
Check out my guest post with some strength exercises for your upper body.
Often going on holidays with friends or family is a running-free time. But this doesn’t need to be. Running in another environment and country is great. I usually set myself a specific running goal when on holidays. You can run across an entire island, run from one village to another or run/hike a local mountain.
To keep improving at a constant rate and learn what works in training and what doesn’t, it is a must to analyse your training. Today there are many apps and possibilities to do that. For me I use Strava as a tracking and analyzing tool together with Movescount and a running log in which I note everything I can think of.
Learn more here about training analysis.
What’s the point in training for improvement without knowing if your training really helps you to get better. Test your performance after every training block to learn if your training was worth it. Either you do this with a race or you can do a standard test like the Cooper test or even in a laboratory that tests your VO2max and lactate threshold. You find more about performance testing in this post.
Ok big city runs are great and usually the atmosphere and the amount of cheering fans is unbeatable. But for me there’s nothing compared to run in nature. I love mountain trail races and I promise if you have ever done one, you don’t wanna go back to the roads.
Winter and cold temperatures are not excuses to stop running for weeks. It has something relaxing to run on fresh snow. And deep snow is also a good way to train your foot and ankle muscles just like running on sand. And there are some great views too!
Often friends tell me that they think running is boring. Mostly they never ran at all at just think it is boring. If you’re struggling with this too, just listen to music on the run. Listening to music is something that isn’t boring at all for most people and running comes so easy with your favorite tunes in your ears.
Need some inspiration for your playlist? Start here.
About two years ago I started to listen to podcasts extensively to keep up to date in all the topics I’m interested in. A long run is also a great opportunity to listen to your favorite podcasts and keep your mind busy.
When have you been outside an entire day from sunrise to sunset? Have you ever? If you gained enough endurance try to do this. You don’t need to run permanently but rather switch between running and walking. Pack enough foods and liquids, head out in the early morning and check out how an entire day looks like outside in nature.
As training volume increases, recovery becomes more and more important and a pressing topic. Recently I started to do foam rolling which I think is a great alternative if you don’t have the time and money to get a massage after every training session.
If you work towards a running goal, don’t just go running or plan the entire year ahead. I prefer to divide my running year into 4-6 training blocks in which I set a specific training focus. Also you can test your improvement after a training block and let your performance and training analysis impact how you define your next training block.
Learn more about training planing in this guide.
Interval training has proven to be the best way runners can become faster and improve anaerobic capacity. There are several different workouts like HIIT or a Fartlek. Check out the best interval training workouts in this post.
Having one or more running heroes you can look up to is a great way to stay motivated. The best is to follow a currently active athlete who shares his/her training, races and running insights on a website or on social media.
I often follow big trail and ultra races and records attempt by Kilian Jornet. This is some inspiring stuff that forces me to go on a run immediately.
Running several times a week is not the same than sitting in an office chair or on the couch. So learning how to fuel your body and take in all the nutrients you need, is a very important topic. It goes without saying that you should have a healthy and balanced diet in order to perform at your best level.
As a passionate runner you’re far from being alone. There are dozens of millions of other runners out there and training apps like Strava or social media made it easier than ever to connect with some of them. This is a great way to learn from others or share your experiences with others.
Human beings have always been competitive. And competition always strives progress. So compete with your friends at least once a year on a specific race is a great and fun way to keep you motivated to improve.
The Fartlek is a fun and varied workout. It is up to you how you vary it and you can change it every time and be really spontaneous. To learn more about the Fartlek run check out this post.
A long run as per definition is pretty long. So how can you keep your mind busy in all these hours? Just choose a burning question you have in a specific topic or something that just bothers you in your life.
If you don’t get the answer to a question on a four-hour run, you ain’t getting one.
– Christopher McDougall in Born to Run
Running is tough on your locomotive system. And it’s a good thing that you don’t need to run always to keep fit and improve your endurance and speed. Try to regularly cross train by riding the bike or go swimming or hiking. Also strength training is a good way to train differently that improves other aspects of your body that are needed for running.
I consider this as one of the most important things in running. Learn all about your body, its limits in training, how much recovery it needs and what’s the ideal nutrition to fuel it. Running is a full body sport and there’s much to learn when you get of the couch and put this kind of workload on your body.
Getting enough sleep is one of the big challenges in a modern lifestyle. Work and family duties consume a lot of time each day and it’s hard to get enough sleep to function correctly. And if you train extensively, your body needs even more sleep. As a rule of thumb your body needs 30 minutes of additional sleep for every hour you run.
Tapering is a science by itself. And it has much to do with knowing how fast your body recovers and what you need, to be in the best possible form on race day. Normally tapering is the one or two-week period before a race where you power down your training. How much training in these weeks is enough and not too much is something you have to learn over time.
You shouldn’t be completely clueless when you toe the starting line of the race you trained so hard for. Think about how to tackle the race before the starting gun goes of and don’t just run all out at the beginning. Ask yourself what your goal is and how to achieve it. And remember: Just having fun is also a great race strategy.
Having your loved ones at your side on race day is great. Cheering friends at the start and towards the finish will give you that extra boost you need. If you go for the ultra distance or do adventure races, having a support crew is great for much more reasons. They can motivate your on aid stations and carry your belongings while you’re on the run.
I use different shoes on different surfaces. Muddy trails and flat concrete streets are just not the same. But I also try to use different shoes so my foot muscles don’t get used to a specific model and keep working.
Yes rain won’t hurt you if you dress accordingly and are careful. In fact running in the rain can be a refreshing experience.
“Run in the rain. On purpose. I know it sounds crazy but it’s incredible mental training, and very peaceful too.”
– Bethany from HowtoRunGuide.com
When you have to plan your workouts into a busy work and family schedule you probably need to run some months in the darker hours. And this is a good thing. It teaches you to stay focused and alert. Make sure you use reflective materials and/or a headlamp so others can see you.
We experience so many awesome things as runners. Finishing your first race at a new distance or enjoying that great runner’s high. It’s our obligation to share these stories to inspire others to get into this awesome sport.
There are many great books about running or from great athletes. I love to read them in between runs to get even more motivation and learn more about the sport I love.
Same as books but for more visually inclined runners. Documentaries not only feature great stories or athletes but also show some awesome landscapes you immediately want to run in.
I’ve never tried this myself before but there are many who argue that it has a life changing effect. If you do something everyday for a year, you probably will do it your entire life. But don’t overdo it. On some days 1 mile is enough.
When I started running I just put on a regular shirt and some shorts. But soon I learned why functional clothing makes sense. A few years later I moved mainly to compression clothes on long runs and in races. Not particularly because of the compression but because the tight fit that has many advantages.
Are you bored by running the same local races over and over again? No reason to be worried. There are so many great races in this world. Whether it be in the mountains, in the desert, on the great Chinese wall or in an arctic climate, picking a destination race and travel to race day can give your motivation a huge boost.
Check out this post to get some ideas.
It’s a very common mistake by beginning long distance runners to see running as just a physical activity. The longer the distance you aim to run, the more your mental strength is challenged. It’s well worth to do some mental training as well. A good start is to visualize over and over again yourself finishing or achieving your running goal.
There’s still some controversy around stretching. I myself have made very good experiences with it regarding injury prevention and recovery. Stretching after a tough workout just feels great and relaxing. Try to stretch every muscle that is involved. Not just your legs but also your glutes, hips and other muscles are used when run.
Find your stretching routine and do it an hour after your two most intense workouts each week.
This is a very important topic no matter the sport you do. You get the most improvement if you get as close as possible to your limits without exceeding them. You’ll probably will go too far along the way which isn’t too bad as long as you learn from it.
By understanding Supercompensation, the core principle of training, you know that recovery is one of the most important things in training. Learn how your body recovers well and when you are ready to put in another intense workout.
Sleep enough, foam roll, stretch, get massages and rest as long as you need.
Our world changes at a faster pace every year. Also in running there’s a lot going on. New races, new genres, new gear and much more. You don’t have to follow every hyped trend, but it’s always worth staying up to date.
Intense training and repeating intervals on a track can be boring and hard on your joints. Hill repeats can give your training some variation. And you don’t need a big mountain across the street. A short uphill will do the trick.
Check out this post to get you started.
There are many ways you can get injured when running. Going for an intense run without being warmed up properly is one of them. A muscle strain can happen pretty fast when running in cold temperatures. Try to warm up your muscles before heading out. Also after a tempo run or some intervals or hill repeats, I try to cool down by running slowly for ten minutes at the end of the workout.
Tracking your runs with your GPS watch or your smart phone is great to analyze your training. But you can also run a pattern or a message. If your loved ones follow you, run them a message.
It’s not too bad if you don’t eat on a run, but you should always avoid dehydration. Try to carry some water also on shorter runs and moderate temperatures. Get a hydration pack or running bottles that suit you. This is well worth investigating and investing some money in.
Football has the Super Bowl, soccer has the UEFA Champions League final and most sports have world championships. Also in running there are many different races each year that are huge, feature a deep field and are great to follow live on TV or online. There are the Olympic marathons, marathon majors like Boston or some big trail races like the UTMB you can follow live. This will make you want to run just after the race is finished 🙂
Every body is a bit different. Sure evolution formed humans to have a body predestined for running. But since our survival nowadays doesn’t relate on the ability to run, biomechanical issues like pronation (foot rolling inward) or supination (foot rolling outward) or flat feet are widespread.
So it’s recommended to get your stride analyzed so you know where you might have problem zones or what shoe might suit you.
Never try out new equipment on race day! That can get you into very unpleasant surprises. Always test your entire equipment you plan to use on race day in at least one training run in advance. The same goes for nutrition. Don’t try food your stomach isn’t used to from training runs. You don’t want to hide in the bushes every couple of minutes in a race.
The recent DQ of Xavier Thevenard in this years Hardrock 100 and the controversy about it that followed showed one thing: You absolutely must know and comply with the race regulations if you don’t want to have trained for nothing. Read race regulations carefully and show them to your crew if you have one. And remember: No one cares if you agree with the rules.
Since I first heard that there are actually runners that are crazy enough to go beyond the 26.2 miles I was totally fascinated by it. After running several ultra marathons myself I can tell you that it’s worth it. Now marathons are no longer a challenge but a training run!
If you wanna stay at the marathon distance but looking for further improvement and goals, try getting into a major marathon. I strongly believe that almost every runner is physically able to qualify and run the Boston Marathon. But you have to work hard, meet the qualification criteria and have a decent amount of luck to get chosen in the lottery.
Running is great. Music is great. The combination is awesome. Having a running playlist can multiply your runner’s high and give you the push you need in the tough moments of a race.
Supercompensation is the basic principle of training and describes the cycle of setting a stimulus, recovering from the strain and overcompensating for improvement. Understanding this principle is crucial and teaches you that recovery is probably the most important part of training.
Learn more about supercompensation in this post.
If you’re anything like me you don’t just “like” running but you “love” it. I want to know everything not only out of curiosity but also to learn how I can improve in the most efficient way. Reading about the scientific background of running and training is something that helped me in many ways. For example understanding how I can be a faster runner.
When I was young I divided running in just two different categories: Sprinting and endurance running. As I got more and more into running I discovered that there are many different running genres. Sprinting, cross-country, ultra running, road running, trail running, sky running and more. Finding the genre that suits you the most helps you keep your motivation up.
As it probably isn’t hard to tell, my favorite running genre is ultra trail running.
Exchanging stories and experiences is a great way to profit from other runners and help them with the know how you gathered with hundreds of miles of training. The internet is full of forums and running groups where you can engage others. This is a great way to get ideas and learn from hundreds of other passionate runners out there.
Are you tired of running alone and haven’t convinced any of your friends to run with you? No problem, there are running clubs and groups almost everywhere around the world.
Join a local running group. If you don’t like running with people, give it a try, the experience might surprise you. If you already like running with others, a running club is a great way to make new friends and bond with the local community.
– Bethany from HowtoRunGuide.com
Every runner is different and reacts in other ways to certain type of workouts. Find out what works and create your personal signature workout. You can also give it a cool name.
A while ago I’ve written a post about the soccer run, a type of Fartlek workout I’ve created.
I have to be honest, this is not my favorite. I’m more an outside person and usually don’t run on a treadmill. However there are some advantages to treadmill training especially when living in an area with challenging climate. Also the training conditions are always identical which makes it easy too measure improvement.
Ok this is something I love. Running in a hilly or alpine environment is just great and I love the challenge of running up and down a mountain as fast as I can. Of course this is challenging when living in an entirely flat area but it’s also a great challenge to set yourself when you go on holidays.
This is something that should go without saying. If you move outside respect the environment you’re running in. Avoid littering, stay on trails and don’t chase down animals just for fun.
If you have troubles to go running in the early morning hours, this is a nice little trick you can use. Don’t prepare your work clothes but instead prepare your running gear before you go to sleep. If the alarm goes of in the morning you see immediately what you planned to do the evening before.
Isn’t it a great feeling when you’re out there running and suddenly you feel like you could run forever in a state of euphoria? I love that! You can even amplify the effect if you then turn on one of your favorite songs. Embrace the runner’s high every time. You earned it.
FKT stands for fastest known time. Basically it’s a record of any route. With the segments functionality of Strava this is pretty easy. Create a segment, run it as fast as you can and see if anyone beats you. If someone does, it’s again your turn.
To save time in a busy life, running to your workplace comes pretty handy. Start the day by running to your office. If you don’t have the possibility to get a shower at work, just do it in the evening when you get home. If your workplace is too far, just park your car close to your office or get out of the bus or metro some stops earlier.
Having a bad running form is one of the major contributors to common running injuries. You should find weak spots in your running posture and try to sort them out. Ask a friend to film you, do regular core strengthening and try to land right beneath your center of mass.
Even the worst injuries might start out with a little itch. Don’t run through pain in training, it’s just not worth it. If you feel any pain, stop your workout and deal with the issue. Missing out on one or two workouts is better than to be sidelined for weeks or months.
Another beginner mistake is to just overdo it and train at a volume and intensity that is way over what the body is adapted for. Remember that your locomotive system, ligaments, bones, joints and tendons need longer to adapt to the new workload than your cardiovascular system. Don’t increase your training volume by more than 10% each week and put in a recovery week once a month.
Earn your lunch by running in your lunch break. This is a great way to avoid early morning runs in the dark and use time for training in the evening where you might have many other obligations. Make sure you have a shower at work though. Your colleagues will thank you for it.
#RunChat is a weekly Q&A on Twitter every Sunday. It’s a great way to ask your burning questions to the running community on Twitter or serve other runners with your insights.
Get the times of the Q&A here.
In Switzerland we have several women’s runs. Obviously I can’t participate in these events as a runner. But whenever I know someone who is running there I go cheering for them. It’s great to be on the other side every once in a while at races and give back the support you receive by friends and family.
Just look at this picture. No words needed 🙂
There are predefined running challenges everywhere and all the time. Just check your favorite blogs or running apps like Strava that offer monthly distance and climbing and many other challenges. Participating in those helps keep you motivated.
Other runners are the first who understand what you are doing. If you meet them while training just be polite and greet them. Of course there are many forms of greetings. I usually just smile, nod and say hello.
Chances are that you are not the best runner in the world. In fact a lot of pro runners never stop learning from their competitors and former runners. Use any opportunity that arises to learn something from another runner. Everyone has another perspective so even if you are awesome (and I’m sure you are) there’s something to learn.
As with many other things in life, consistency is absolutely key. If you wanna see constant improvement in your running, make sure you don’t start from scratch every other month, but be persistent. Create your own training plan and stick to it as good as possible.
Sure you could run in your everyday socks. In fact I do so in many of my shorter runs. But if you run longer or participate in races, do yourself a favor and invest in good running socks. It’s one of the must do things if you want to avoid blisters.
I always smile when I go running on the first beautiful day in spring when the suns comes out and temperatures are finally warmer after a long, tough winter. Out of a sudden the trails are full of runners. It’s just like if the sun got all the sunshine runners out of their caves.
If you wanna be persistent, run all year round and in every weather condition. Bad weather is just no excuse to skip a run. There’s nothing like bad weather but there’s bad equipment. Get a lightweight rain jacket and warm clothes and you’re good to go.
Running is not long jumping. Every time you land on your foot, the force put on your joints is 2-3 times your bodyweight. In order to keep the burden on your body as low as possible, try to shorten your stride. This comes quite easy when you run really slow, but is more challenging and needs special attention when you get faster or run intervals.
Another one to improve your running form. Try to land on your fore- to midfoot. Your running stride should also feel comfortable when you run barefoot. And landing on your heel without the damping mechanisms of your feet just isn’t comfortable. Also when landing on your heel, you land behind your center of mass and lose some per cents efficiency.
I guess for avid runners this isn’t a thing to worry about. A lot of runners just love going out for a run and when the runner’s high kicks in, the pleasure comes by its own.
But in the beginning when running is still hard, you need to remind yourself that you can get something good out of every run. No matter the weather, the effort or whatever might not be perfect at the moment.
I failed so many times at this and got burned really bad. Just think about your health and use sun screen. Even do so when it’s cloudy outside. You could get burned even with some clouds or the sun can come out while you’re running at any time.
You never know what happens on a run. You might run into a police control or fall and get injured or even be unconscious. For that reason I carry an ID, my phone and some money. These are not very heavy or bulky things but can be a life saver.
Another safety measure here. Tell someone where you go running and approximately how long until you’re back. If an accident happens, time might be crucial. If you plan to go out for an hour and someone starts to miss you after 4 hours because you’re that crazy marathoner, it might be too late.
Not much to say here as I guess this goes without saying. Just be a true and honest sportswomen or sportsman. Don’t cheat or play tricks that might give you an advantage or hurt someone else.
Massages are one of the best ways you can do to recover fatigue muscles. Depending on where you live these can be pretty expensive. But you could ask someone to give you a short massage or massage yourself. For example calves can be reached pretty easily by yourself when you’re sitting.
This is one important thing to do on long distance races. Don’t go all out from the beginning because chances are that you then can’t even run anymore in the second half. Get to know your body and train at the anticipated race pace. Check with your heart rate monitor if you overdo it or not.
A lot of runners mostly run on concrete. The softer the surface the better for your joints. Find the closest track or woodchips trail for interval sessions and train on trails as much as you can.
I know not everyone has the opportunity to go to other countries and run there. But if you travel a lot, use the time at your destination to go running. A couple of years ago I travelled around the world visiting 13 countries. I went running in almost all of them. What a great experience that was!
Sure you start running for at least one very specific reason or goal you want to achieve. But in my opinion running should be something you don’t do only for a short period in your life. Once you fell in love with running, achieving your goals is as easy as just structuring your workouts a bit.
Running addiction obviously can have some side effects. I’m writing this post while suffering from my first ever injury. I really miss running and am getting more and more grumpy. Get addicted to running but always remember that it’s not the only good thing in your life.
This is something that really helped me prepare for my marathons. Run your easy long runs at a moderate pace but speed up towards the end. This trains you running at race pace when you’re already tired and out of energy. You can start with running just the last 5K faster and then add a couple of miles every time until you run the entire second half of your long run close to race pace.
Dehydration is something you just don’t want to experience, not in a race and not in a training run. Always start your runs and races very well hydrated, carry enough fluids and/or check for rehydration opportunities on your route.
It’s pretty sure that you will have a bad run every once in a while. And that’s not a bad thing as long as bad runs are the exception and not the rule. From every bad run there’s something to learn. So make sure you reflect on your bad training runs and analyze what went wrong.
Lust but not least you should always run with a smile. If you do it right, running is not something that you have to do to stay fit but something that is fun and you really like to do. It’s for a reason I wish you “happy running” at the end of every post 🙂
So that’s what I’ve come up with. But I’m pretty sure there are more things one should do in the course of a running career. If you can think of anything, just write a comment below and let us all know!
Also I would really appreciate if you could share this post with your friends if you like. It helps me stay motivated and write posts like this for you for many years to come!