Improving performance

trail running man on mountain path exercising


In a couple of weeks I’ll be running my fourth Bath half marathon. When I first ran it I finished in 1 hour 48 minutes. Last year I ran 1 hour 30 minutes. This year I’m hoping I might better that.

This progression got me thinking about the ingredients that have contributed to my improved performance. They are:


I was motivated to start running when I started to work from home. I wanted to stay fit and without spending much money and I wanted to do exercise that easily fitted in with the working day. I live on the edge of the countryside too and used to run competitively as a kid. When I see improvements in my running I am motivated to do more.

Social experience

A friend of mine introduced me to Parkrun and through that I have met loads of new people. Not only can I talk about running with people without boring them I have also made friends with people I now run with outside of Parkrun. I have also found out about the huge running network that exists in and around my home town. Running with others has helped me improve my times as I have received so much encouragement. I really notice and appreciate the encouragement and enthusiasm I receive from others. Running with friends who keep improving also helps me to keep improving – a healthy dose of competition helps us all to improve!


I have a running watch that tells me how I’m doing – pace, heart rate etc. I’m no data geek but this data helps show my progress, what’s working and what isn’t. It helps me in races when I am trying to achieve faster times. Factors such as stride length, which the watch measures, are an important part of running technique.


As I have got more into running I have become more interested in technique and how to remain injury free. I learn from a range of sources – the osteopath, my pilates teacher, other runners, videos, books etc.


The only way to improve at running is to practice. I go running three to four times a week. This has become routine for me and I tend to run at times of the day that are most convenient to work and family life.


Running makes me feel good – physically and psychologically. When I’m running alone I’m thinking things through, which can be very useful. And when I’m running with others I enjoy all that brings – banter, camaraderie, competition. I enjoy running off road and am lucky to run in beautiful countryside. That’s also rewarding.

Reflecting on these factors makes me wonder if they are the key to effective learning.