Legendary coach, Peter Coe writes: “The response to a stimulus is specific, therefore the training must be as specific as possible to each element of the event. Inappropriate training is unnecessary stress – this can be very harmful”

Want to become a better runner? Run more! For the average club runner, it really is that simple. Your body will adapt to what you ask it to do most often. Sit on the couch often, and you will start looking and feeling like a couch potato. Run often and you will start looking and feeling more and more like a runner (and less like a potato!).

While other physical activities (or “cross training”), will help your body’s conditioning, it will never 100% match the demands of running, something will be lacking or even counterproductive to running. So there are gains, but when your capacity available to train is limited, you want to get the most gains per hour and the most effective way to spend that time would be to run.

The benefits of running more regularly and longer are:

  • Stronger more efficient heart, lungs and bigger better oxygen transportation highways to your running muscles. While other sports give some boost, running long is still the most effective.
  • Strengthening of the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons specific to running. The average runner is taking at least 5000 steps over a 5km, that is a lot of repetitive motion. People often make the mistake of avoiding running to avoid the aches and pains, but actually running is what you need so that your body can be conditioned to repeating running movements over and over. Unless you have an actual injury, the best way to get less aches and pains is get more conditioned to run, …by running more! And more regularly!!
  • You will develop mental resistance to fatigue. The reason why HIIT type training is so popular, is that it is actually easier for your mind to push through for short time period. However if you want to run long distances, your mind needs to stay in the game for a long long time. The more often you run and the longer you run, the tougher your headspace will get!
  • You will improve your running economy! Huh? Basically you will be exerting less effort at the same pace. Now that is good news. A lot is spoken about running form, and there are some basics that are good to know, but overall, if you are running often and long, your body is clever enough to find the path of least resistance. i.e. your brain will adapt your style to expend the least energy. Running form classes have a place, but these are more to create some short cuts for the brain to get to be more economical faster. The rest it will figure out!

If you are still not convinced that the best way to becoming a better runner is to run more, then we only need look at the elite distance runners of the world. With all the advances in training methods, technology, gyms, if you look at their training methods, the core of their training is, you guessed it, a lot of running.

So, to start with, get running more regularly, slowly increase the length of your runs. Why not try a running streak for a month!? That in itself will bring great improvements. In my next blog I will give some tips on getting more specific in terms of training to run specific goal times.

Onwards and upwards!

Coach Kathleen


About Coach Kathleen

Coaching since 2004, I have coached both young and old athletes from those achieving provincial and national medals in track, biathlon and cross country to runners running their first ever half marathon or marathon. I am a specialist in youth coaching and my coaching philosophy is to not only help each athlete achieve their best with their athletic talent but to guide each athlete in developing character and transforming their lives beyond the track. As an athlete I have competed at high levels across all the running disciplines, track, road, cross country and trail running as well as internationally in triathlon. I have a personal best of 2 hours 45 min for the marathon and have twice been part of the winning ladies team in the AfricanX trail race. Qualifications IAAF Athletics Lecturer Level 3 Distance Running Coach SAQ Fundamental Movement Certificate Personal Running Performances
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