Training Tips For Runners: How To Train Smart With Proper Running Progression

Are you new to running and you just go out there as hard as you can each and every run?  Are you someone who always gets injured every time you try to train for a race?  I know I have been there before running 49 road races and 21 half marathons to date.  In this blog article, I am going to cover 5 training tips that will help you either start to run or train smarter so you don’t have to stop running along the way because of an injury…😩




Click the video below to hear the LIVE training I did on this topic within the Healthy Runner Facebook Group


In this episode, I cover some common questions I hear often which include:

✔️ How often should I run?

✔️ How far should I run?

✔️ Should I do a run-walk method?


During the first 4 episodes of the podcast launch we have been talking about the SPARK Blueprint and we’ve been discussing five principles. We’ve discussed the foundation of how to run stronger and healthier without injuries by strengthening 5 KEY RUNNING muscles.  Then we talked about adding plyometric or jump exercises into our training as well as the importance of training on one leg with your foot on the ground.  The 4th tip for healthy running is taking care of your muscles and tendons that log all those miles!


In this 6th episode of the Healthy Runner Podcast I wanted to cover the 5th and final tip for Healthy Running which is training smart with proper progression of your running!


This is one element to staying healthy as a runner that does not relate to your physical characteristics.  In other words, it is not related to your inherent muscles imbalances that you may have.  This does not relate to ways you can change your body as a runner whether it is improving your muscle strength or becoming more flexible.


Hamstring stretch to improve flexibility


Strength and flexibility are the attributes I have covered during my career working as a physical therapist in the traditional clinic model. Now at SPARK Physical Therapy we focus on the “whole runner” and not only address  your physical characteristics, but also the other contributing factors to bringing you success as a runner.  This could include your training, sneaker selection, nutrition, sleep, or mental mindset. That was also the reason why I wanted to start the Healthy Runner Facebook Group and now this Healthy Runner Podcast to discuss you as a runner from a “whole person” standpoint.  Your nutrition, training, and mindset all play a role in keeping you healthy running doing what you love!


5 Training Tips


These strategies and tips are the key reasons why I have been able to help thousands of runners throughout my career get back to running without feeling that achy knee, foot, or hamstring.


I have broken these down into 5 training tips you can implement starting today!  Leading into the first tip…I want you to think about how many days a week do you run?


Tip #1: Run At least 3 Days A Week


In order for your body to adapt to the physical demands of running you need to start thinking about running more throughout the week.  Your training frequency (how many times you run per week) is determined by how long you have been running and what event you are training for (5k vs. marathon).  In general, you want to train at least 3 days per week if you are new to running.


For those more experienced runners with some races under your belt then you want to think about running 4 or 5 days a week.  These don’t need to be long run but at least 20-30 minute run or walk/run sessions.  Also, don’t forget to dedicate one day to a longer run (40 min-1 hour) on the weekend.  These will especially be important for training for the half and full marathon distances.


Tip #2: Slow Down!


You know the saying…“slow and steady wins the race” and in the case of building up your tolerance to running and preventing overuse injuries this is certainly the case!  Now we are referring to your training intensity or how intense your workouts are.  As a beginner runner, you want to run/ jog at a conversational pace, meaning you can talk to someone running next to you.  If you cant maintain a conversation then you are going too hard. Do this for your first 3 months running at minimum as you develop your base running fitness level.



Run slow or even walk first before running. Take walking breaks as needed. Focus on increasing your run time or your distance in gradual increments as opposed to your running pace (or how fast you are going).


The important point is to build up your running fitness and allow your body the time to adapt to the stresses of running.  Therefore, consistency is key to developing a routine that becomes a habit.   Apparently, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic (66 days to be exact per Google).


The run-walk method

The run-walk method is a great way for new runners to get started! The method was pioneered by a very famous former Olympian and coach Jeff Galloway for beginners but he also advocates this approach for experienced runners to improve their race times believe it or not. Contrary to what you might think, the technique doesn’t have you walk when you get tired; it has you take brief walking breaks when you’re not tired. You can pick whatever ratio of walking and running that works for you. Some suggested combinations include:



The thought is taking breaks makes marathon or half-marathon training less grueling and reduces the risk of injury because it gives your muscles regular recovery time during a long run.  I think this a great way for anyone starting to run to allow their body to adapt to the forces and demands of running.


Tip #3: Gradually Build Your Training Volume


I am talking about the slope of the line or steepness (gradually building up volume) when you visually see the increase in your training volume.



It is imperative that you follow the 10- 20 percent weekly volume (total work you do) increase.  You need to increase your mileage or time gradually. Sticking to the 10 to 20 percent increase rule helps you avoid doing too much, too soon, and too fast. A slow, gradual build reduces the risk of injury.  I am no math genius but 10 miles one week then becomes 11 miles the next!


Tip #4: Rest and Recover


Rest and cross training on your days off from running is very important to recovering from all the miles you are logging while running.  Don’t feel guilty…your body needs it after all the ground contacts and forces that are transmitted from your foot up your leg and throughout your body.



For the majority of runners I help, less is more especially if you have a history of overuse running injuries such as chronic tendonitis (achilles, knee, hamstring) or stress fractures.  So if you are training 5-7 days a week and are logging > 4-5 miles each run you need to consider allowing your body some off days and implementing the first 4 episodes of the Healthy Runner Podcast.  Adding in strength training for your running muscles, training plyometrically, and taking care of your muscles with self care! 



Tip #5: Find The Right Training Plan For You!


Everyone has a different body and every runner has different goals and differing levels of running fitness.  This final tip of training to run relates to you finding the right training plan based on your current fitness level…today.   Therefore, if you haven’t run all winter and you are starting a half marathon training plan you should not pick one with speedwork in it that requires you to do intervals, tempo runs, or heavy hill workouts.  Unless you want to get injured during this training program!  Consistency in your running and your training is key!  You need to train consistently with proper progression implementing the 5 tips in this article.


If  you are looking for a training plan for your next Half Marathon then CLICK THIS LINK to hear about our SPARK training program.  Feel free to email me at duane@sparkhealthyrunner.com to inquire about availability of our next program.


Remember, training smart with proper progression is the 5th and final tip within our SPARK Blueprint


Congratulations!!!  You have completed the first 5(k) tips of how to be a Healthy Runner.



Now, you have the information within the blueprint and all you need to do is take action and implement these tips! Hearing information is one thing but actually doing is a whole other challenge we face as runners and making long term habit changes. If I can make a plea to take action on one thing then PLEASE can it be that you now understand the importance of adding in strength training to your training and to stop stretching your muscles (longer hold times) before you go out for a run and certainly before a race.


Are you trying to stay healthy but can’t train because pain is stopping you from meeting your running goals?


Are you worried that an injury will limit you from doing what you love like running?


Have you wondered what it will cost you in the long run if you continue to run through pain?


Have you seen other medical providers in the past that just tell you to stop running?


Do you want to shave time off your next 5k or half marathon?


At SPARK Physical Therapy , we have a unique treatment approach that focuses on solving these problems with our clients.


Our goal is to help keep you active and on the road, while recovering from injury by guiding you in ways to modify your training, rather than eliminating running!


We combine manual hands-on techniques with guided supervised exercises to help you get stronger, pain-free and perform at your peak level to get you back on the road doing what you love.


The SPARK Physical Therapy Commitment:

No long waits or multiple trips to providers’ offices every week.


We see you in a gym setting at a time that is convenient with your schedule.


One on one for a full hour with your doctor of physical therapy, every visit.


We provide you with a customized plan specifically designed for you, based off your unique injury and goals.


Full transparency in what you pay. You will never get a bill from us a couple of months after your visit.


Access and availability to you! Have a question about your pain or exercise program? Get an answer from me directly.


If you’re in the greater Hamden, CT area that has been dealing with pain we can help! I’d love to chat for a few minutes and see if you are a good fit for what we do. Click THIS LINK and we’ll set up a free 20-minute phone consultation with myself.


In this article we covered 5 training tips to allow you to take up running or be able to actually train for a race without having to suffer those stubborn aches and pains you feel during every training cycle.  Today was all about keeping consistent with your training and training smarter with proper progression.  Here is a recap of the 5 tips:

Tip #1: Run at least 3 days a week- training frequency
Tip #2: SLOW DOWN!- training intensity (run-walk method)
Tip #3: Gradually build your training volume
Tip #5: Find The Right Training Plan For You!


If any of this resonated with you I ask that you share this article with a runner friend that needs to hear this so we can help more runners stay healthy. Also if you like these first 6 episodes of the Healthy Runner Podcast then you will love the future content I have planned for you. I have interviews that will be coming out and many other topics that we talked about in this episode as well (training, shoes, nutrition, & running mindset as well as taking deep dives into the most common running injuries such as ITB syndrome, hamstring tendon pain, achilles pain, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis).


Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article or listen to the podcast either during your run or your commute.   I appreciate you and love our running community!  Remember every Monday Night at 8pm we go Live within the Healthy Runner Facebook Group so keep us in mind on your schedule so you can get all of your running related questions answered!


Thank you again and stay active, stay healthy, and just keep running!





Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS


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“I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude towards Duane Scotti and the Spark Healthy Runner program. When I started working with Duane, I had been dealing with chronic shin splints/posterior tibialis tendinitis for almost a year.

I had worked with multiple other coaches and physical therapists with little success and was at the point of almost giving up on my love for running. Duane is so kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable as both a physical therapist and running coach. Our first virtual meeting lasted two hours because he was so meticulous in his assessment. His strength and running program is progressive and created so that you can continue to build strength and mileage as you heal. His strength program is unique, effective, and fun.

Additionally, his warm-up routine is awesome and includes drills that over time have made me a more efficient runner. His training platform is easy to use, and he is always readily available to chat when problems or questions arise.

Over four months of working with Duane, I have built back to five days a week of running and am almost back up to my pre-injury weekly mileage and long run distance. Whenever I have flare ups or setbacks, Duane reassures me and makes necessary adjustments so that I can continue to progress in my running journey. I have had so much success with him so far that I have signed on for four more months so that he can help me to continue getting stronger as I train for the Dopey challenge in Disney World.

If you are struggling with a running injury and are feeling hopeless, you have to reach out to Duane Scotti. Of course, you will have to put in a lot of hard work, but with Duane by your side, you will be able to achieve your goals and more. Thank you Spark Healthy Runner for bringing the spark back to my running!”

Dipti Pandya

You can teach an old dog new tricks!!!  I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach.  I am soooo glad I made the investment in me!  I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier!  The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching.  I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong.  I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot!  The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally.  I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age.  Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!

Gina J.

My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.

I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.

I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!

Katja L.

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