Hold on to your HIITs! If you’re looking to spice up your running, you’re in the right place. Here are six training tips that’ll have you feeling faster, stronger and more confident in no time. Best of all, they're free!

Stronger for longer

Long runs are so good for you that I’m surprised WADA hasn’t banned them. This tried-and-trusted weekly outing is the foundation for all your running success. Your long runs will super-charge your lungs and muscles. They’re terrific for sharpening your concentration, perfecting your rhythm, and bringing down your weight.

Start by running for a set time rather than distance. This will stop you sweating over your split-times. Keep to an easy pace, and take occasional walk breaks if you need to. 

Take it easy 

Easy runs should make up at least 80% of your weekly training. And by “easy,” I do mean “easy”. Can’t hold a conversation? Then you’re running too quickly.

Easy running allows you to run comfortably for long periods of time. It builds your confidence, improves your rhythm, and lets you enjoy the scenery along the way. Do as much easy running as you possibly can. The more you can handle safely, the better you’ll be. It’s that simple. Soft surfaces are ideal, as they are gentle on your joints.  

Hills and thrills

Hills are a dream workout for runners. They give you strong muscles, big lungs, and an iron-clad self will. What’s not to love?

Any sort of hill running will power up all your major muscles. After a few hill sessions, you should see improvements in your muscle tone, running pace and form. You can try a mix of long and short hills, and short and long recoveries. Stay on the grass if you can. And don’t go crazy! Treat hills with respect and they’ll respect you. 

Fartlek (sorry, what?)

Settle down at the back please. Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “speed play”. An unstructured off-road session, fartlek combines fast and slow running. 

Fartlek feels less full-on than track or road efforts, and gives you the freedom to you run as you please. Go hard or easy, long or short - it’s entirely up to you on the day. As fartlek is run on soft surfaces, it’s kind to your legs too. You can do fartlek on your own, or in a group like the Kenyans. Either way it’s a cracking addition to your training. 

Tempo, tempo, tempo 

Tempo running is sustained running at a hard - but not killer - pace. You run for a set time or distance, and usually on a flat bit of road. Training like this teaches your body to relax and perform well under pressure. Tempo is used by runners racing everything from 5K up to marathons. 

Strapped for time? Tempo is an ideal weekly session. Try doing 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes tempo, 20 minutes easy. “Hard but not flat out” is your effort guide here. 

Track attack

Running on the track is great fun, and can add a dash of glamour to your training week. Done sensibly, track will toughen you up both mentally and physically. Whatever distance you like racing, you can tailor track sessions to suit your individual goals. Most runners prefer to train in groups, as you can share the work between you. 

Never run track before? Then please speak to people who have before you give it a go. You’re inviting injury if you just rock up without a plan! 

See you on the start line,

JC

Johnny will be blogging for us with his handy tips and advice on running and how to get faster and fitter as we lead up to the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon on Sunday 15 October. Entries are still open
Find him on Twitter @EustonDoYouCopy and Instagram .