Coaches, doctors, nutritionists, and other running gurus draw upon their years of experience to cultivate nuggets of wisdom so true and essential they bear repeating. Here's the best advice from the best experts in the sport.
"Fitness takes time." - Coach Greg Mcmillan
McMillan advises driven athletes from newbies to Olympic qualifiers who all have one thing in common: "They're used to giving things 110 percent, and they expect that'll achieve fast results," says the exercise scientist and running coach based in Flagstaff, Arizona. "But fitness should sneak up on you."
McMillan says performance gains come from training optimally, not maximally. That's because "fitness" really refers to a set of complex biological processes that can't be rushed. Push too hard, too soon, and you'll end up injured and discouraged.
"But if you can stack up week after week of consistent training, you will see your fitness level go to places that you may never have thought possible," he says. Here's how to get there.
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Honor Your Body's Timeline
"Everybody's ability to adapt and recover is different," says McMillan. Training for 26.2 can take anywhere from 12 weeks to a year or more, depending on your age and fitness baseline. Don't try to keep up with the Joneses—or anybody else.
Run By Time
McMillan likes to think of training volume in terms of minutes rather than miles logged—it's a more consistent way to prescribe increases to all levels of runners. "If your regular run is 30 minutes, increase by 10," he says. Or bump up your long run by 15- or 30-minute increments. "That should challenge your body without overtaxing it," he says.
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Take Time to Prevent Injury
Fatigue or soreness should fade within a day, even after long runs. Lingering musculoskeletal pain—in muscles, tendons, bones, or ligaments—indicates that the body's not fully recovering from each workout. The solution? Take a day off from running and maintain fitness on the elliptical, at the pool, or through yoga. "The 'one more day of rest' prescription works 99 percent of the time," says McMillan.
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