All Your Running Questions Answered, Part 2

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What is interval training and how should I do it?

Nick Morgan says: ‘Interval training is running for short periods at a faster pace than usual, interspersed with periods of active recovery such as low-intensity jogging, which trains you to run faster. Start with intervals of one to two minutes followed by 30 seconds to a minute of recovery, building up to five five-minute intervals with one minute of recovery. If you’re running three times a week, do one interval session. If you’re out five times a week, do two sessions one week and one session the next.’

What running clothing do I need?

Martin Exley says: ‘Always go for modern, breathable synthetic fabrics, which keep you cool and stop your skin getting irritated by pulling sweat away from your body. Most running shorts come with a liner, which will reduce chafing, and running socks help prevent blisters because they don’t crease and keep your feet dry.’

How can I get better at hill running?

Rob Hope says: ‘Shorten your stride and keep a low knee lift to avoid wasting energy. Train by doing hill reps. Do short, 30-second sprints to improve tolerance to the lactic acid that builds up during climbs, and longer three or four-minute runs, which improve endurance. Cycling can also help because it strengthens your quads, which are key muscles for hill running.’

I want to enter a race. How do I pick the right one for me?

Joe Mountain says: ‘Start with a local fun run, 5K or 10K. If the first race you enter is a half marathon and you only have five weeks to train, you’ll limp round and never want to do it again. Make sure lots of people are entering the race – if there are 20 people and you’re the only beginner it won’t be much fun.’

How should I pace myself during a race?

Steve Cram says: ‘Set off at a realistic pace that’s based on what you’ve done in training. If the event has distance markers, set yourself a target for the first couple of miles and stick to it. Aim for no more than a five per cent difference in time between the first and second halves of the race.’

How can I prevent cramp and stitches?

Nick Morgan says: ‘The best way to avoid cramp is to make sure you’re hydrated and that you’re consuming electrolytes, which you can get from sports drinks. Stitches can be difficult to shake off, but you can help by trying to keep your breathing controlled.’

What’s the best way to overtake during a race?

Steve Cram says: ‘Be decisive and make one big effort. If you’re going past someone late in a race, leave it as late as possible. If you don’t have great acceleration, that’s when you have to be brave and push a bit earlier to make the other person doubt whether he can go with you and maintain it to the finish line.’

My 10K time has plateaued. How can I improve?

Nick Morgan says: ‘Either try to increase the number of runs you do each week or the structure of your intervals. People tend to do the same sessions over and over again and get stale. You may not need to increase the volume of training but you

Will running knacker my joints?

James Moore says: ‘Provided you have enough strength and flexibility – and a decent running technique – your body will be able to deal it. You can reduce the risk by running on a variety of surfaces. If you feel pain while running, stop immediately. Little niggles can resolve themselves quickly, but if the pain continues see a physio.’

How is trail running different from road running?

Rob Hope says: ‘You need more strength in your quads for trail running and more flexibility for the rocky sections, which force your ankle to move side-to-side. Some people use wobble boards to build extra ankle stability. Calf raises on a step also help.’

How can I prevent stiffness after a long run?

James Moore says: ‘Do ten minutes of multi-directional exercises, such as skipping, backwards running and sideways skipping, to flush out any chemical by-products. A good way of warming down after a run is to jump on a bike for ten minutes – low-impact active recovery flushes waste products out of your muscles.’

Our running experts

Road running

Steve Cram is the former 1,500m world record holder. He won silver at the 1984 Olympics and gold at the 1983 World Championships. He now works as an athletics pundit for the BBC.

Trail running

Rob Hope is the reigning British fell running champion and has competed four times at the World Mountain Running Championships.

Injury prevention

James Moore is a clinical physiotherapist at the English Institute of Sport and UK Athletics. He works with athletes including Mo Farah and Christian Malcolm.

Running Kit

Martin Exley is the head technical expert at Brooks UK ( He is a Level Two athletics coach and has been running competitively for 25 years.

Personal training

Steve Halsall is director of Personal Evolution and has been a personal trainer for 15 years. A specialist in sports conditioning, he has a 100m person best of 11.01 seconds.

Sports science

Nick Morgan is a sports scientist at the Lucozade Sport Science Academy and has worked with UK Athletics.


Nik Wendon-Daniels is a dietician and director of The Dietitians Clinic (

Running community

Joe Mountain is co-founder of running social networking website Last year he ran 14 marathons, including the 243km Marathon des Sables.

Coach Staff

Coach is a health and fitness title. This byline is used for posting sponsored content, book extracts and the like. It is also used as a placeholder for articles published a long time ago when the original author is unclear. You can find out more about this publication and find the contact details of the editorial team on the About Us page.