20 Tips From Top Runners

Want the world's best running advice? Listen to the pros.

Last updated on December 17th, 2021

Want some advice on your running career? You’ve come to the right place. The following (profoundly kick-ass) runners–who have competed in the Olympics, won marathons and set world records, among many other accomplishments in their lives–are the gurus whose tips can help you get to the next level. Their words of wisdom are pure gold, so listen up.

Shalane Flanagan

four-time Olympian, American record holder, 2018 NYC marathon winner

“Each race has different goals, but more often than not, I’m always chanting to myself ‘You got this, you got this’–I’m my own cheerleader! Even in workouts I use that. Some races require more specific things–my last Olympic trials were really exciting, so I remember telling myself before the race ‘controlled aggression’ so that I wouldn’t waste my energy too soon or get too excited or too rattled. It was all about controlling my excitement.”

Meb Keflezighi

Olympic silver medalist, Eritrean-born American long-distance runner

“I have never run a race without my compression socks. I have been using them for over 10 years. Compression socks help improve blood circulation and enhance my performance. I use my compression socks everyday, for training runs, short runs, long runs, or even around the house relaxing. They have really helped with my success.”

Desiree Linden

2018 Boston Marathon winner

“The process of becoming is better than being. Set big goals and learn to love the work that gets you to them.”

Paula Radcliffe

English long-distance runner and marathon winner

“When things get tough, I count in my head. With running, like anything in life, thinking how far you’ve got to go to get to where you want to be can be overwhelming. It’s good to learn techniques that help you focus and concentrate on doing the best you can ‘right now.’ For me that’s counting to 100–over and over again.”

Carl Lewis

American Olympic gold medalist, track and field star

“The key is staying relaxed. Right now I think a lot of athletes are so focused on power–we need to get back to being fast and relaxed and smooth.”

Deena Kastor

American long-distance runner and record holder

“Everything you do should be joyful. So really just having a good attitude with anything that you’re trying to accomplish. You’re going to get the most out of something when you’re doing something you’re really enjoying.”

Frank Shorter

American long-distance runner, 1972 Olympic gold medal winner for the marathon

“The more consistent you are in your training, the less you must rely on a perfect training run every day.”

Joan Benoit Samuelson

First women’s Olympic marathon champion, winning the inaugural event at the 1984 Games in LA

“Don’t look for the first mile marker. Don’t even count them. You want to look up and suddenly see mile seven. Just look at the people in front of you and think about your time goal.”

Ryan Hall

American long-distance runner, U.S. record holder for the half marathon

“Focus on the moment. I avoid thinking about how far I have to go early in the race, because that can be overwhelming. Late in the race I try to forget about how far I have gone, because that would give me an excuse to give in to fatigue.”

Eliud Kipchoge

Kenyan long-distance runner, 2016 Olympic marathon gold medal

“The lesson of running is to train well and then have full faith in your training and show the proof in the race.”

Kara Goucher

American long-distance runner and Olympic silver medalist

“Do the work. Do the analysis. But feel your run. Feel your race. Feel the joy that is running.”

Lolo Jones

American hurdler and three-time U.S. Olympian

“There’s always a point where you get knocked down. But I draw on what I’ve learned on the track: If you work hard, things will work out.”

Bill Rodgers

American four-time Boston Marathon winner

“The advice I have for beginners is the same philosophy that I have for runners of all levels of experience and ability: consistency, a sane approach, moderation, and making your running an enjoyable, rather than dreaded, part of your life.”

Jesse Owens

American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 Games

“I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

Dean Karnazes

American ultramarathon runner and author

“If it comes easy, if it doesn’t require extraordinary effort, you’re not pushing hard enough: It’s supposed to hurt like hell.”

Julie Isphording

Olympic marathon runner

“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.”

Mo Farah

British double Olympic champion middle distance runner

“Don’t dream of winning, train for it!”

Grete Waitz

author and nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon and two-time London Marathon winner

“It is all about pacing. Have a realistic plan for your race based on your training and most of all stick to it. Don’t get carried away by how you feel at the moment. Miracles seldom or never happen in marathon running.”

Kathrine Switzer

First woman to run the Boston Marathon and 1974 New York City Marathon winner

“If you miss a workout, don’t feel guilty. We’re all human. Just start again as soon as possible. If you miss many days, you may need to start again at a gradual pace.”

Mary Keitany

Kenyan long-distance runner, world record holder in a women-only marathon (2017 London Marathon)

“After each marathon rest completely for two weeks, followed by two weeks of slow running–increasing the volume in the second one. After about a month you can restart preparation at full training pace for your next marathon.”