How to Use Uta Pippig’s Advice to Become a Better Runner

December 17, 2016 By Uta Pippig
Enjoy the outdoors... a sunny winter day is inviting you. © Uta Pippig

Uta Pippig is a three-time champion of the marathons in Boston and Berlin, writer and public speaker for “Take The Magic Step®” and “Running to Freedom™.” She is now also writing for the German daily newspaper “DIE WELT”.

I love the holiday season. Everything shines so colorfully and everywhere the air is sweet with goodies. People are cheerful and start coming up with early first New Year’s resolutions. Some resolve to take up running. Others are already runners and set new goals. Now is a wonderful time to start running—and not only because of the chocolates and gingerbread cookies that need to be burned off. 🙂

Just start running... © Uta Pippig
Just start running… © Uta Pippig
Many people want to be fit early in the New Year. I would love to help you join in the wonderful sport of running. You even might end up in a 5K or, one day, a marathon… And I will accompany you along your journey.

My guidance is part of a holistic training approach for body and mind which will help you as you begin your training. Some of my advice will appear in my DIE WELT columns and I will also share it here with you.

In these I also will discuss with you the specific training approach at all performance levels which I have tested in 30 years as an athlete and with my clients. The joy of running—which hopefully you soon will not be able to get enough of either—empowers you with a sense of energy and inner peace. This is an essential part of my philosophy: to feel freedom while running, which brings inner relaxation. The following are my tips for getting started.

Listen to Your Body’s Signals

Signals such as your resting heart rate in the morning, stress and recovery heart rate during and after your training, susceptibility to getting injured or sick, insomnia, lack of appetite or lack of motivation to run are indicators that are worthwhile observing. If you feel an injury or cold developing for example, it is better to take off one or two days and get early help. Look for help from a doctor who specializes in the field most relevant to your condition or injury.

Train According to Your Current Performance Level

Take your time preparing a training schedule that you are able to cope with and that does not overburden you. By building your fitness up slowly and smartly you prevent yourself from “overtraining.” Here “negative splits” are helpful: Cover the second half of your chosen distance faster than the first. The same principle applies to interval and speed workouts. Start each training session easy, with a good and relaxed feeling.

Phases of Your Marathon Training

Your preparation comprises a base period, followed by the first build-up period with high mileage and the second build-up period with the highest mileage. At the end you will enter the tapering period (reduction of the mileage) in order to get in top form.

Follow the Concept of Periodization

Plan on enough recovery time during and after each training phase. For example: Two or three weeks of hard and intensive training should always be followed by a week of easier workouts in order to be recovered enough for the next hard phase. Recovery is an important part of training.

Have the Courage to Change Something

Whenever you have the feeling you won’t be able to fulfill your schedule, change your strategy, come up with a new plan that lets you continue your training. Be courageous enough to adapt the time goal you have set for yourself accordingly.

Cross-Training as An Addition and During Periods of Injury

Cross-country skiing makes you strong for running on the road as well. © private
Cross-country skiing makes you strong for running on the road as well. © private
My favorite, cross-country skiing, improves aerobic endurance and the strength of the whole body. Deep-water running strengthens the running muscles while supporting the cardiovascular system. Swimming can enhance recovery after intensive workouts and at the same time improve breathing. Cycling also improves aerobic endurance. A few weeks before the marathon, however, you should reduce cross-training drastically and focus on your specific running workouts.

Additional Supportive Training Elements for Running

Complete specific stretching and strengthening exercises—as well as Yoga—after short, relaxed runs. Make sure that your torso is relaxed and your lower back is not causing you any trouble. Avoid stretching after intensive runs in order not to injure yourself, because after heavy strain the muscles are stressed and tired. Core strength exercises contribute to a good running technique as they stabilize the spine and the pelvis.

Establish a Good and Adequate Nutritional Routine

Sufficient fluids per day, especially before, during and after your workout are of great importance. This nutrition routine includes good fats with omega-3, as well as enough carbohydrates. Try to keep in mind the so-called “recovery window,” the period immediately after prolonged exercise in which—preferably within the first thirty minutes—you should eat easily digested carbohydrates in order to replenish the muscles’ energy stores.


Endurance athletes need at least eight hours of sleep each night—even nine, after intensive training days—in order to adequately recover physically and mentally, strengthen the immune system, and build and repair muscles. Try to find a harmonic way to combine work, family, and friends with your training and necessary recovery.

I wish you lots of success and above all fun and joy while running.





Adapted from my column „Mit Uta Pippigs Tipps werden Sie zum besseren Läufer“ in DIE WELT with permission.

*Uta Pippig, 51, is one of the most successful female marathon runners of the ’90s. She has won Berlin and Boston three times each. Today she lives in Berlin, Germany, and in Boulder, Colorado, and with her organisation “Take The Magic Step®” she commits herself to increasing people’s awareness in the areas of fitness, nutrition and health.

Reading Suggestions:

  1. Cross-country skiing improves your aerobic endurance: Cross-Country Skiing: A Great Option for Winter Fun and Fitness
  2. Periods of Training for Your Marathon Preparation and Distance Progression for Your Long Runs

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