Lisa Jackson’s top tips

HOP ON THE BUS
A bus can be a fun training tool when you want to start running longer distances. Use it to gradually increase the length of your runs during your commute, by getting off a couple of stops earlier each week and running home from there.

TAKE OFF THE BRAKES
“Most runners over-stride, which means their heel strikes the ground well out in front of their body,” says Malcolm Balk, co-author of Master The Art Of Running. “This causes braking – a momentary slowing down of momentum that requires more effort to get back up to speed. It’s the equivalent of pedalling your bike while squeezing the brake. Learning to take what feels like a smaller stride and letting your feet land closer to your body will help you run faster with less effort.”

MAKE HILLS YOUR FRIENDS
Hills can mean either heartbreak or euphoria during a race – it all depends on whether you’ve trained for them. Make sure you are doing an effective hill session once every two weeks. Do a ten-minute warm-up jog, followed by four stints of sprinting up a hill that’s no longer than 50m, interspersed with recovery downhill jogs. End your session with a ten-minute steady run followed by a five-minute jogging cool-down and stretches.

MIX IT UP
Running more isn’t always the way to get better. “Sometimes less is more, especially if you add in some cross-training,” says Susie Whalley, co-author of Running Made Easy. “Activities such as cycling, swimming and resistance training give your legs a break from pavement pounding and improve different aspects of your fitness that? will complement your running.”

UP YOUR TEMPO
“Tempo training builds speed endurance, so you can sustain a good pace for longer,” says running expert Keith Anderson. This involves “controlled discomfort” – running at an effort level of eight to eight-and-a-half out of ten. “Try doing a ten-minute warm-up jog followed by four repetitions where you run at tempo pace for three minutes, interspersed with 60 to 90 seconds of recovery jogging,” says Anderson. “Finish with a ten-minute cool-down jog and stretches. Do this once or twice a week and you’ll be amazed at the results in just six weeks.”

RUN AT THE SPEED OF CHAT
Many runners work too hard when they’re supposedly running at an “easy” pace – the kind of runs that build up your aerobic bank account. Check whether you can carry on a conversation comfortably – if you can’t, you’re going too fast. (So ladies, you’ve just been given permission to chat at the back of your running group!) Discipline yourself to stay in your easy zone on easy days – it may seem slow, but it’s often a faster path to improvement than going too hard.

GO CLUBBING
Join a running club for the encouragement and camaraderie – and free coaching.

REST WELL, RUN WELL
“Recovery starts the minute you finish a training run or race,” says Anderson. “Have a good cool-down jog and stretch, and take on carbohydrates within 20 to 30 minutes of finishing. Rehydration is also important, as is getting enough sleep.