Top tips for how to improve your running personal best

Visitors running in the grounds of Lyme Park, House and Garden, Cheshire

Whether you’re new to running or keen to make a step up in distance, why not run at one of our places? With countless trails, stunning views and events including Park Run, Night Run and Trust10, we’re sure we’ll meet your needs.

We spoke to Matt Withey from Cotswold Outdoor about their top tips to improve your running personal best


How can I improve the distance I run?

'Pick a good playlist, get a comfortable set of headphones and pick a route that is mostly flat. This will enable you to work on conserving your energy and help train your mind to keep going.

Matt Withey from Cotswold Outdoor running in the countryside
Matt Withey from Cotswold Outdoor running in the countryside

'Another great motivation is entering a race. Once you have a target, motivation is easier to come by, and when you have a date to work towards you can work backwards from there.'

How often should I be training?

'It’s not all about quantity; if you perform 3-4 good training runs in a week that should be enough to crack out a 10km. It’s about gradually increasing the distance while maintaining a good pace. Don’t go from 5km one day to 10km the next.'

I’m a bit of a fair-weather runner. Any hints on how to stay motivated in the wind, rain and cold? Any clothing or equipment which might help?

'There is a great feeling of satisfaction that comes from battling the elements and just getting out there. It is not always easy to step out the door, but you will never regret doing so. Gloves are always a winner for me – I hate having cold hands. A good lightweight but very breathable waterproof is a must for the rain as well.'

What are the benefits of training outdoors?

'There are numerous benefits; the most obvious being the sense of freedom you get from exploring, it’s a great way of seeing where paths lead. You also get to see the world from different angles, yes that hill looks pretty from the car window, but the views from there will be spectacular.'

Parkrun event at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
Parkrun event at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden

'Physiologically you burn more calories running outdoors due to the increased wind resistance, and more challenging terrain keeps your body guessing. Being outside means more vitamin D too, which keeps you smiling.'


How important are my shoes?

'Simply the most important piece of kit you can buy. There are a number of practical reasons for this; support, grip, stability, and comfort. These all contribute to the most important of all – injury prevention. Everybody is unique, and so are their running styles, so it’s important you have a shoe that suits your needs.'

OK, so should I be choosing different shoes for running National Trust trails which are a bit more rugged? So far I’ve mainly been running on road/treadmill. 

'There are a couple of reasons why you should think about using different trainers for the trails. The first is comfort, the sole of a road running shoe is much softer, and stepping on a jagged rock or unexpected root would be felt through the foot. Another is grip, a typical road shoe will be built with that in mind, while the tread pattern and depth on a trail shoe will protect you from slipping, and keep your energy moving forward.'

Running at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, Yorkshire
Running at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, Yorkshire

'If you want to get away with one set of shoes then consider one that is good for gripping terrain and displacing water. A shoe that protects against rain and yet is also breathable for warmer days will also be advantageous.' 

Would you recommend wearing different shoes for longer distances?

'Of course, long-distance shoes are designed for the rigors of running for longer periods of time. This means they will help minimise the impact on your joints over and over again.' 

How can Cotswold Outdoor help?

'We stock a wide range of shoes ranging from fast road-racing shoes, right through to long-distance trail shoes. If you are thinking of taking your running to the next level it would be a good idea to head into a store and seek advice on what type of shoe would be best for you. This provides you with access to the knowledge of our staff, and also expertise in fitting. They are trained across all types of footwear, including boots.'

Inspiring the nation to explore

As our official outdoor retail partner, Cotswold Outdoor is supporting us to look after coast and countryside. Don’t forget, National Trust supporters receive 15 per cent discount* at Cotswold Outdoor, in store and online.*

*This is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Selected lines are exempt. This offer is redeemable on production of your National Trust membership card in store or email to receive a discount code to use online. Offer expires 31.12.18.