How do you run like a crazy beast and not hurt yourself? Well, obviously not everyone is equal. There is a genetic component to everything. So maybe the first thing you should do is not worry about how you compare to others, but instead focus on how to improve yourself for yourself.  Everybody is built differently, and therefore, will likely run slightly differently. That being said, there are a few basic things that can make running much easier as well as helping to reduce injuries. 

1. If you are a beginner, don’t run every day and give yourself plenty of time to build your running up. It takes time for bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, lungs, heart, and everything else to get used to running. You can’t just start running one day and expect to go run a half marathon or marathon in 6 months without likely having some type of injury. Injuries are going to happen no matter what you do, so there is no point in doing stuff that is almost guaranteed to cause an injury. We are a society who wants everything now. I understand that, but being patient is the way to go. Gradually increase mileage and speed and you will have a happy body!

2. Relax when you run. Sounds simple. It is.

3. Run with good form. Upright, legs landing beneath you. Feet hitting somewhere mostly on the front half. Not heel to toe. The heal can hit, but most of the impact should be in the front part of the foot. Let you shoulders hang loose and your arms swinging at a 90° angle. The sides of your hands should be beside the hips at the lowest point. If not, your arm and shoulders are likely too high and you traps and neck will be tense. Don’t over-stride. Each time you land, your hips should be landing above the foot that is striking the ground (for only a microsecond), then immediately lift your feet and pust forward slightly.

4. Breath. Its not hard. Really. Don’t freak out about it. Ideally, learn to breathe deeply in and out through the mouth. When you exhale, your abdomen should sink in, and when you inhale, your abdomen should fill up. This is a relaxing way to breathe when you get used to it.

5. Move your arms and legs. Most people have a stride rate that is considerably slower than it needs to be. Want to run fast, more steps per minute will do that. More strides per minute coupled with the maximum safe stride length equals fast running! Light, quick strides of between 170 and 180 strides per minute (for both  legs, or 85-90 per leg) are considered ideal.

6. Warm-up, cool down, and stretch. Before doing any run, I first warmup by doing and easy jog. If what I am doing that day is an easy run, I simply start out slower, then pick it up to the pace I want to go. Before I start the easier jog, I may shake my arms and legs out and do a few easy leg swings at most. I do little in the way of stretching before an easy run. I have had WAY more problems with tight muscles and strained muscles over the years when I stretched before being warmed up. If I plan on doing a faster workout on a given day, then first I would do a 1 to 2 miles warmup, then I may do some very light stretching. I always start with leg swings. First, swing them loosely from front to back, then a few from outside to inside. Obviously, one leg at a time. Sometimes I will pull my lower leg up behind my hamstrings for a quad stretch, and I may even touch my toes a bit. I don’t do much though. I try to get most that worked out in the warm up. Start slow, pick it up, throw in some high knees and butt kicks. Get loose. I hate static stretches before running. After an easy run, I always stretch, but not for ridiculous periods of time, and I don’t do 50 different stretches that are completely unnecessary for running. I am not trying out for the gymnastics, martial arts, or cheerleading squad. I do not need to be able to bend my leg around my ears to run a few miles. However, I try to always do a few legs swings (front to back and side to side), quad stretch, hamstring stretch (I prefer the one where I put my foot up on something and thrust my chest out while feeling the stretch), and a mild hip stretch (cross my legs and just lean to one side or the other). Occasionally, I will touch my toes or come close. I don’t reach as far as a I can after running, because I think its a bad idea to over stretch muscles already strained from the workout. However, I stay fairly limber in general and can place my entire palms on the ground. Not terrible for 48 years old. But, again, not before or after I run.  I rarely do calf stretches any more. I have more problems with my calf muscles when I stretch them, and less when I don’t. I think stretching is important, but I think many people over stretch both before and after. Instead, I think it would be better to be generally flexible-stretch regularly every day; to warmup and cool down properly, and to have good running form. Distance running is not really that hard on your muscles compared to sprinting, for example. Even the fastest 5k guy in the world is not really running that fast compared to the bursts of speed that a runner does in a 100m dash. When you do stretch, make sure your muscles are already warm, and don’t feel like you have to overstretch before or after running.

7. Sleep.

8. Eat good stuff.

9. Drink plenty of water.

10. Follow some type of program with some periods of the year being easier than others. During the harder phases, add a speed workout, tempo run, and long run. Don’t always run the same pace and distance.

11. Have fun. Don’t stress about it. Enjoy the running, but push yourself at the same time.

11. Run with some other people. It makes running much easier. Sometimes run with some faster folks too!

13. Confidence. Believe you can do something and you probably will. But, be realistic;)


(for guidelines on paces, there are charts available online that are based on your current 5k time)

Summer: Base Training. Long Run of 60-120 minutes on Sat or Sunday, easy run of between 30 and 60 minutes for the rest of the week, with slightly longer run on Thurs. Can throw in a light interval workout or easy tempo on Mon or Tues (8 X 400, 3 X 1 mile, etc.). Near the end of the summer, throw in a few 15-30 second strides at the end of a couple of easy runs. And, do a fun race or two if you like.

Fall: (this is modified from Jack Daniel’s training, which I like): Basically you have several components here, a long run (60-120 minutes), a workout of some type (intervals, fartlek, hills, etc.) a tempo/threshold run (tempos should be done at about your 10k race pace, races, and easy runs. I also think its good to do a very easy recovery run the afternoon after a 5k race or the next morning.  Here is an example of something that works for me. For the first month, skip the races or do only one, then no more than 2 a month. Sundays (for the entire fall) are ideal for long runs, since most races are on Saturdays. For the first 3- 5 weeks (Phase I), do hill repeats on Tues and Thurs on not super steep hills. These should replace 200s and 400s, so do a similar distance and shoot for 6 to 8 X 200m hills + 4 or so 400m hills on one day, and on the 2nd day do more of the longer ones and do them first. Jog slowly back down the hill between each. If you don’t have a good place to do this, you could do the workout on a track. Next 3-5 weeks (Phase II) do 1000m intervals on Tues (at mile pace or so) with 3 minute rest or jog between.  Try to do these somewhere flat, and try to do them at the same location each week to see your progress. Do a 4-5 mile tempo run on Thursday. Next 3 or 4 weeks (Phase III), fartlek runs (easy then hard sections) or some type of ladder workout (200m/400m/800m/1200m/800m/400m/200m for example). Wed or Thursday, 3-5 mile tempo or 4-5 X 1 mile tempos with 1 minute rests between. If you have some big races during these weeks, you can skip the tempo run, which is pretty hard. Next 3 weeks (Phase IV) building up to a big race, limit your workouts to one a week, ideally on Mon or Tues. You should be in shape now, its unlikely that you will suddenly get faster, so don’t start doing super fast intervals that you have not been doing. All this does is make it more likely that you will get injured and be more sore and tired. Some people have the opposite approach, and do their speed work at the end of the year. Does not work for me, maybe it will for you. Ideally, some repeat tempo miles and a few relatively fast 200s after or before. You can throw in some 200m strides in after an easy run midweek as well. Race on Sat. After your last hard race, take a couple of weeks off from hard running. You can even take a few days off from running altogether if you want.

Winter: repeat base training you did in summer. Hopefully, by now, your easier runs are at a slightly faster pace than in the summer. Each year, up to a point, you should notice your easy runs are getting faster and faster, but just as easy. Throw in a fun race or two if you like.

Spring. More or less repeat the fall training. Basically: long run on Sunday, faster workout on Tues, 2nd workout on Wed or Thurs, race on some Saturdays, and easy days between. I like my serious speed work done earlier in the spring to build my legs up, but still do some faster stuff later to maintain my speed.


The Runner’s Resource, web site, awesome resource with lots of info about running.

Daniel’s Running Formula. This is an essential book for any serious runner. BUY THIS BOOK!!

Hal Higdon’s Summer Training Program for High School Cross Country Runners:

Run Injury Free with Jeff Galloway:

5k and 10k training:

Runners World:

Pace calculator (Cool Running):


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