Another brand new writer for you – Ian Mountford; runner, charity activist and Olympic volunteer.  Here he introduces us to one of the masters of endurance training, Arthur Newton.  Don’t forget to check out Ian’s blogs and Twitter feed, linked at the end of the article.

Arthur Newton was a pretty good runner. Newton’s competitive running career lasted 13 years (1922 to 1935) and in that time he won six Comrades Marathons (90km), achieved the 86km London to Brighton record, and held the world records at 30, 40, 50, 60 and 100 mile distances – a very nice collection indeed! His legacy was a series of books on running, the last completed in 1949, and the basics he covers in these books are a fabulous addition to the memory banks of any runner.

I’m a lover of lists, so when I saw Newton’s rules I was immediately sucked in. And after revisiting them recently, plus starting a new training plan for my attack on Paris Marathon next April, I’ve decided to share a few of my favourites here.

Start gradually and train gently

Newton’s words here were “take to it kindly”. A sound and steady start to any training programme will avoid injury and keep you moving forwards – fact. Keep building on the foundations that you’ve laid like a builder puts down bricks and mortar, and you’ll be putting on the roof before you know it as race day approaches.

Don’t race when training

The focus has to be endurance, especially for the beginner runner, rather than speed in the early days.  Save the biggest effort for race day, and make sure that your training has not drained you of all of your speed by being too intense in the build-up weeks. As Newton said, if you “bank your racing powers”, speed will always show when you need it most.

Train the mind

This piece is missed out by so many, but those that get the best results pay more attention than the rest of us to getting the mental game plan just right. Newton’s comment, that stamina is “as much a mental attribute as a physical one”, will be well known to anyone who has felt the burn of the last few miles of a marathon. Record your progress, think about your racing and training strategies, and make sure there is as much fun in there as you can manage!

What are your ‘rules’ when it comes to running? Do you have any basics that you don’t ever break?

Ian Mountford


3 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Newton

  1. Isn't all of that aimed at marathon runners though? How relevant is it to those of us who are slower and can't get past 10k?

  2. Hi Henry – thanks for commenting. These rules can be applied as a runner at any distance. To me, they are 'building blocks', and things to keep in mind as you progress to race day itself.

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