Success in Running


When it comes to paving the way for success as an athlete, preparation and planning is critical.

A good overall yearly plan and well executed preparation will make it far less likely that you will fall short in actual performance.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ ~Benjamin Franklin

  1. Consistency

The number one route to improved performance is to aim for consistency with your training.

Concentrate on the task at hand, neither dwelling on the past nor looking too far forward. The only thing you can control is the present and when you focus on that and remain consistent, you will find your greatest success. Athletes must do everything in their power to stay healthy, injury free and consistent in their training for as long as possible.

Consistent daily improvements lead to big progress over time. Momentum is the backbone of progression.

Training consistently and building up gradually with the right structure and progression will reduce injury risk and improve performance. Don’t be ambitious with your paces in a workout just because you feel good, every workout serves a purpose!!! Remember we are trying to extend our ability to run at a certain pace.

Don’t rush development. Also, workouts are not predictive, they are developmental-we are trying to change and evolve by manipulating workouts to keep getting better

Recovery runs need to be emphasised as much as everything else and athletes are not paying enough attention to this little detail.

Each session should have a specific purpose, including your easy runs. Could you be hitting those quality sessions even better by going 30-60 seconds slower per mile when going easy. The potential gains here are huge, even beyond the obvious that the easier load on the body means you’re more likely to keep consistently training over weeks, months and years with a healthy body.

Too high a percentage of speed work in your training week will only lead to short term gains. If you are working hard for every single workout and pushing every single workout, you are showing up for the days when you really need to work with less to give basically defeating the whole purpose of that workout date. Maximise your results on tempo/speed days by taking the other days easy.

A well-designed training plan (that is adaptable and adjustable) specific to the athlete followed consistently will maximise results. It will have the proper mix of stress and recovery and ensures the right type of training occurs at the right time.

2. Variety

Variability is a runners best friend.

It is critical for all endurance runners of all levels to have plenty of variety in their training.

Creating added stimuli to your training aiding progression, helping prevent injury and keep an enjoyment factor to your training. Running on a variety of different surfaces is important too.

3. Listen to your body

This is the most important thing you can take out of training. Be body intuitive. You know your body more than any training plan does.

Your training plan does not know about the poor night’s sleep you had last night or how the last week of training took a little too much out of you. But you know this and you can listen to what is going on and respond to it to increase your longevity as a runner.

4. Don’t be afraid of change

If you are not responding positively to a certain type of training, then change it. All runners and athletes have different physiological and psychological make ups, so different types of training works for some and not for others.

5. Goals

A dream written down becomes a goal. You are holding yourself accountable for what it is you want to achieve. Make this dream a reality.

All athletes should set goals for themselves- reasonable and readily achievable short term goals along the way and also longterm goals. It also creates added motivation. How are you getting better today? What will you achieve today? How will you respond to failure and setbacks? This is what sets everyone apart. Will you take a set back in your stride knowing that it is all part of the process or let it get the better of you and give up?

Don’t have a yesterday attitude by dwelling on things that didn’t go well in a previous performance or a tomorrow attitude by procrastinating and not getting things done now.

Believe in your ability to succeed.

Using the SMART principle for goal setting is used with huge success.





Be flexible with your goals. Accept that there are many ways to reach your objectives then you wont be disturbed by the changes you perhaps need to make.

6. Planning

After you have set your goals for the year ahead, it is important that you lay out a plan to help you achieve them, and to get there in the best possible condition.

Use a training diary and record everything so you can look back and reflect on things following a key race or a full season.

Also a plan should be written in pencil and not set in stone. Adjust as needed! Success in running relies on being able to make adaptations when necessary.

You need to evaluate, feedback is needed from a previous years training/racing to reveal areas that need improving or changing.

You need to decide the structure of the annual plan, are you peaking for 1 race or for 2 keys time during the year etc.

Decide your objectives and duration of each phase of annual plan

Preparation Phase (general and specific) This is the time of year that you lay speed/strength/endurance foundations to prepare for more specific training.

Competition Phase (pre comp and comp) More specific training and racing to allow you to be in the best possible shape to race. This phase only works well if you have prepared properly in preceding phase of training.

Transition/Recovery Phase This is the time of year that you allow tue body to transition from hard training and racing and focus on recovery before starting the cycle again.

Taking time off is a good idea, this is a vital part of the training process. Just as the body reacts positively to easy days of training between quality sessions, so can a bit of time away from training allow the body and mind to reach a new level of performance once back to a regular training schedule. (Supplementary training may minimise loss of fitness during the break from running)

We need to quantify training loads with our training cycles (need to look at volume/intensity/time/rate of percieved exertion (RPE)

7. Recovery

Sleep and nutrition are the two most underrated performance enhancers available to all athletes. Use these wisely and reap the rewards in your training and racing. Make your recovery specific to you. We need to monitor the following regularly:


-Sleep quality and duration

-Energy levels

Muscle soreness

-Resting Heart rate

-Cold/flu symptoms

-Fatigue and stress



8. Basics

Too many athletes seek to go after the advanced training methods before nailing the basics. Master the basic fundamental training areas, recovery methods etc. first before you try advancing your training. The basics when done well on a consistent basis lead to great results.

Understand the concept of each run you are doing. Know what is each run trying to accomplish.

As a runner, we want to run in the most efficient manner possible to limit wasting energy. Spend time working on your run mechanics to help you run more fluent and relaxed through run drills, strength and conditioning programme, hill running and strides/short sprints on flat & on steep hills. This combination will help you run more effortlessly.

9. Patience
The bottom line is that endurance training can be monotonous at times, you don’t always see quick results, you must deal with setbacks etc so patience in the process delivers time and time again.

Wishing you every success are you prepare for their next season😊

Michelle Greaney

Athletics Ireland National Level 2 Endurance Running Coach |Strength and Conditioning Coach | 




Goal Setting: Steps to Make 2019 your Best Year Yet

To achieve great things we must be patient and take a long term approach to training to grow, adapt and improve.

A systematic programme of goal setting, and working to achieve goals is highly effective in developing both physical and psychological skills. Well defined goals improve performance, helps clarify expectations, relieves boredom, and increase pride and self confidence.

Setting goals will provide:

1. Direction.

Goals are empowering tools and help you makes the right decisions

2. Motivation.

They can stretch and push you out of your comfort zone resulting in increased effort and persistence. Identifying the gap between where you are now and where you want to be creates motivation and the desire to close the gap.

3. Strategy Refinement

After setting a challenging goal, you will think longer and more creatively about how to accomplish it and how to measure progress towards achieving it.

Nobody knows their body better than you do and everybody is individual. In between busy schedules and the demands of everyday life, fitting in training can be a challenge, but if you are participating with others for a set event, it can be a great motivator.

Your training plan cannot be rigid – You must be able to modify it. Modifications and adjustments are to be expected!! We need to be able to maximise the time available to us.

Here are 3 steps for setting up your 2019 plan

  • Recognise

Decide what it is you want to achieve. This step is often the most difficult until you make your goals clear and specific, they will probably stay wishes and dreams for yet another year so choose your goals, write them down to make them real.

  • Research

Figure out the prep and then prep for the plan. Once you know exactly what you want, this step is about figuring out how to make it happen. If you research enough, you will be prepared.

There is no bad plan just bad preparation.

Fail to prepare prepare to fail

  • Reach

Start taking action and don’t be afraid to explore new territory’s.

Up until this point in your planning process, it was all just talk, once you have the blueprint in place, the only way you can get what you want is by taking consistent action.

To have what you have never had before you will have to push yourself beyond what you have done before. Decide what you need to do today in order to move closer to the next milestone. Write down the actions you need to take that you are currently not taking and then start checking the boxes!

As you roll forward into 2019, make sure you follow the steps above with the time you have available to you.

Becoming a better version of you starts by being SMART

Follow these guidelines to setting SMART goals.


Your goal should be clear and easy to understand. The more detailed you can be the better. A more specific and ambitious goal will lead to more performance improvement than a general goal.


A goal to “lose weight” or run a particular time in a 5k is not enough. Set process goals (aimed at achieving certain outcomes/performance) and get to action.

Mini goals will keep you on track to stay motivated and see progress.

To be successful we must not put all of our focus on the outcome, we must consider the process also.

Outcome: The ideal result, hopeful conclusion, best end for your goal.

Process: The skills you need, the method required to get you there.


It’s good to shoot for the stars, but don’t be too extreme. If you can’t actually attain your goal it will only serve to frustrate and dishearten you.

Likewise, a goal that is too easy is also not very motivating. Only you know your limits.


Set goals that are important to where you are in your life right now. Don’t set a goal that someone else is pressuring you to attain-that isn’t very motivating.

Time Frame

Have a clear idea of your timeline and include an end-point. Knowing that you have a deadline motivates you to get started and creates a sense of urgency.

Sometimes however, we may need to cut the dead weight. Your plan is not always going to exactly go to plan. Sometimes you will have to revisit, review and refocus.

If things stall, decide if you need to restart. Find the things that are weighing you down, remove them and start again without hesitation. It is ok to occasionally change the milestone or date and start again – just stick to the plan.

Be fully committed to achieving your goals and best of luck for 2019.

Yours in Sport

Michelle Greaney

MG Coaching