Practical Advice for Every Stage of Runner

It doesn't get easier, you just go faster

Know if you're at risk of burnout, overtraining, or going too easy on yourself—and adjust your training accordingly. (Photo: lzf/iStock)
Know if you're at risk of burnout, overtraining, or going too easy on yourself—and adjust your training accordingly.

No matter what type of runner you are, there's always room for improvement. Let Jay Johnson, coach of three U.S. champions, be your guide.

If you’ve never run at all:

“There is no shame in doing a run-walk program. Try to get to 30 minutes, even if that means running a minute and then walking a minute. The caveat: you want to make sure the walking is brisk. Jog, then walk almost as fast as you can.”

“You need to get your frame strong enough to handle the stress, since your heart and lungs will get fit faster than your skeleton and muscles. Both before and after you run, do some non-running prep work like lunges and body-weight squats.” 

If you just want to finish:

“Evaluate your goals. I have a big problem with people who want to run a full marathon but don’t want to become lifelong runners. Want a big goal? Start with a half-marathon.” 

“Take care of your body. Even casual runners should incorporate flexibility work like yoga and some strength training into their regimen. The goal is to finish and walk away healthy.”

“Keep an open mind about setting a more challenging goal down the road. PRs come really easy to someone who hasn’t been training a long time as a runner.”

If you’re always trying to PR:

“Be process oriented, not outcome oriented. Get a little better with each training session—a stronger squat, a harder effort on intervals. Don’t obsess about race day.”

“It really comes down to rest. The biggest mistake average runners make is that they start to run easy days too fast, because they think that every day they need to push hard. You improve on easy days, too.”

“Enjoy the smallest PR—even if it’s just ten seconds.”

If you’re cross-training:

“The key is to keep it fun—don’t make it something you wish you weren’t doing. If your run is just 25 minutes, that’s fine.” 

“Make sure you have a pair of shoes that you primarily use for running. Your shoes for the CrossFit box might not be the best for your body to run in.” 

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
From Outside Magazine, July 2015
Filed To: RunningEndurance TrainingStrength and Power Training
Lead Photo: lzf/iStock
More Health