Multiple Olympic and World Champion Sir Mo Farah dispenses his essential running advice and how you can get the best out of the sport
MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
Part of the battle with running is finding what works for you and what you enjoy. I’m lucky in that my life revolves around training, so I can go running when it best suits my body, which is around 9.30am for my first session – three hours after I get up.
It was very different for my wife, Tania, when she took part in the Simplyhealth Great North Run in 2016. We have four children and she’s a busy mum, so she did a lot of her running on the treadmill we have at home.
I thought she was crazy because she’d hop on the treadmill at 11pm after putting the kids to bed. But that suited her and she liked it.
WARM UP AND COOL DOWN PROPERLY
You need to make sure your body is well prepared for running, so a light jog and plenty of stretching is good preparation.
Don’t just go to the start line and hope for the best. Afterwards, make sure you do a really slow, light jog as a cool down. If you go too hard, your muscles will tighten up and the idea is to help them loosen and recover for the next day.
DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH ON GEAR
A pair of good running shoes is the only essential and I’m a firm believer that you can get away with wearing pretty much any shorts or t-shirts that are comfortable. It’s really important you change your shoes after 400 miles of running or they will provide limited support and cushioning.
For me, that means a new pair of shoes every 3-4 weeks, but most people will get by with 1-2 pairs in training for a half marathon.
GET YOUR DIET RIGHT
Carbs are also important to fuel your running, but you don’t need to eat as much on rest days or when you aren’t training hard. The same principles apply to all runners.
Getting your pre-run meal right is crucial. You should test it out in training so that you know what settles in your stomach. For me, eating porridge, toast and a banana three hours before I race works best.
DON’T FORGET FLUIDS
It’s important not to forget to drink enough when you increase training. Take a sports drink that contains body salts on longer runs and keep well hydrated with water and other healthy fluids throughout the day.
KEEP A DIARY
A training diary can really help to keep you motivated and I’d recommend everyone keep some sort of running log.
Like everyone, I have moments of self-doubt and there’s nothing better than flicking back to see how well you have been running.
I’m old fashioned and write everything down in a diary, but it doesn’t matter if it’s online or on paper, it can be inspiring to look back at how far you have come. I do it all the time and it always has a positive effect.
Sleep is another thing that will help your performance, but don’t stress about getting enough sleep the night before a big run.
A lot of people don’t sleep well the night before a big event and it doesn’t have much of an impact on their performance. What matters is that you have slept well in the preceding weeks and that you feel rested.
RUN WITH OTHERS
A lot of people find that running with others is more sociable and enjoyable. The best way to do this is to join a local running club or group where you will have structured training and plenty of motivation.
Don’t let those negative thoughts spiral out of control. Stop them in their tracks and remind yourself how hard you have worked to get to that start line, that you’ve done what’s needed and you are good to go.
The best part – crossing the finish line – is yet to come and the sense of achievement is amazing.