Top Tips for Beginners and Advanced Runners and How to Avoid Race Day Fails

Brooks Shoe Finder

As a Commonwealth champion, Great Run series ambassador Eilish McColgan understands what it takes to achieve maximum performance on race day. Here she shares her best advice on how to avoid race day fails as well as her top tips for both beginners and advanced runners!

For Beginners:

Pace yourself and don’t go off too fast.

Everyone can get too excited at the very start of a race. But it’s a long, long way to go. So set off easy and controlled. It can be super easy to get carried away in the moment and go tearing off with everyone else at the start but stick to your own game plan and run at your own pace! After all, no-one knows your running style better than you do.


Don’t wear anything new on race day.

Don’t wear anything new on race day, stick to the same trainers you’ve been wearing and training the same clothes and even the same socks. The last thing you want is too be uncomfortable during your run, so stick to what has worked with you whilst you’ve been training, and you’ll be in the best shape possible on race day.

It’s also essential you wear the right gear. Sometimes a new pair of trainers or a brand-new spanking GPS watch can be enough to lift your spirits. Look good, feel good. Just remember that for most trainers, the recommendation is to switch them after 400-600 miles (depending on the shoe). Any more than that and you might risk picking up an injury.


Plan your route

It is really important to plan your route, to make sure you make it to the start line on time. You need to make sure you have checked before you set off if there are any road closures and give yourself plenty of time to ensure you arrive in good time.

For Advanced Runners:


Getting enough sleep is the most basic of tips but it’s the cheapest recovery tool you can get – it’s free! If it means you have to forgo another Netflix episode for that extra hour of kip – do it. Your mind and body will thank you for it in the morning. A tired runner is a runner who will end up losing interest or even worse, be struck down with an injury or illness.


Ask the experts

There are so many running coaches that it can be difficult to choose where to seek your advice from. But ask your fellow runners and often they will point you in the right direction. I have my own online coaching business – Running Made Easy – and so I know firsthand how much of a difference it makes to have that bit of guidance with planning. But if online coaching isn’t for you – check out your local running club – they will no doubt have other runners gearing up for the same events.


Work Backwards

Whatever your biggest goal is – write the date in the diary and work backwards from it. That is your goal for the year and the race you want to ensure you peak for. All your other races should be geared towards that aim so don’t be tempted to schedule something the week before – no matter how exciting the race sounds! Stick to your long-term vision and schedule races that benefit your final goal with adequate recovery between them. Quality over quantity. I like to do my final key session 9-10 days out from a big race. You don’t want all your best work to be done in training! Save those legs for racing.


We have a range of Great Run training plans written by Eilish McColgan that covers all abilities, whether you are a beginner or an advanced runner. Discover these training plans and more blog entries here.

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