minor details to make you a better runner

Habits of the best

To learn more about performance in running, it’s often useful to look at how the best and most successful operate in the world of performance and coaching from other sports.

Take a look at Sir Clive Woodward. He made his England rugby side unbeatable when they became World Champions in 2003. Focusing on injury prevention, diet and mental strategies – his team became fitter than ever.

Mo Farah now spends more time in the gym than ever. He also focuses even harder on improving his recovery when not training.

What makes these athletes so successful?

The theory of the 1% gain

The theory of the 1% gain is that by making seemingly insignificant 1% performance-enhancing changes, they can add up to a big increase in performance.

Here are 20 ways you can make a 1% gain in improvement in your performance. Add them up, and that’s a 20% improvement on your PB!

20 ways to achieve a 1% gain

minor details to make you a better runner

1. Get to bed 30-60 mins earlier most days to maximise rest
2. Never let yourself get hungry and therefore compromise your energy stores
3. Drink little and often throughout the day to remain hydrated
4. Visit a lab (such as bases.org.uk) to find out your heart rate zones and complete other useful testing
5. If feeling tired regularly, consider getting a blood test to check your iron, magnesium and vitamin B12
minor details to make you a better runner


6. Complete challenging core exercises and stretches correctly. Don’t just go through the motions
7. Run your recovery runs at only 60-70% max heart rate to allow active recovery and muscle repair, not further damage
8. Make sure your threshold runs are in the 80-85% “Goldilocks” max heart rate zone (not too hard, not too soft)
9. Practise your race pace in training, making sure the new PB pace is realistic
10. Consider joining a warm weather training camp before your big race
11. Experiment with shoes in sessions and races to reduce weight
12. Have a race plan that you feel comfortable with when you next line up to start an event
13. Believe in your race plan and use your diary to remind you why you are ready to run well
minor details to make you a better runner
Race day
14. Have positives such as your best long run or recent time to use as motivation during the race
15. Take your favourite pre-race breakfast or meal with you. Don’t rely on the hotel or supermarket en route
16. Have a drink and energy bar or gel with you on the start line just in case the race is delayed
17. Have your own pre-race warm up routine that’s well-practised and works for you
18. Is your kit performing for you?  Make sure your kit can deal with the elements and dress appropriately