Called the world’s best running coach by Runner’s World magazine, the legendary Jack Daniels believes that four ingredients determine how successful a person will be as a runner. In addition to these ingredients—inherent ability, intrinsic motivation, opportunity, and direction—he has created a set of 10 basic laws of running that help runners at all levels optimize the benefits of training. He details these laws in the updated third edition of his best-selling book, Daniels’ Running Formula (Human Kinetics, January 2014):
1. Every runner has specific individual abilities.
Because each runner has unique strengths and weaknesses, Daniels thinks runners should spend a large part of their training time trying to improve any known weaknesses, such as speed. When approaching important races, however, the main emphasis should be on taking advantage of known strengths, like endurance.
2. A runner’s focus must stay positive.
“Do not dwell on the negative,” Daniels advises. “Try to find positives in all training sessions.” For example, if a runner thinks a run didn’t feel very good, it’s better for him or her (or a coach, teammate, or training partner) to find something good to refer to, such as improved arm carriage.
3. Expect ups and downs; some days are better than others.
As Daniels points out, even world-record holders and Olympic champions have off racing days now and then. He recommends dropping out of a race when not feeling well, as opposed to struggling through a race knowing it will be some time before being able to run well again.
4. Be flexible in training to allow for the unexpected.
According to Daniels, switching days to accommodate weather or other surprises is perfectly fine. So if Monday’s weather is cold rain and high winds while Tuesday’s weather is predicted to be much nicer, simply put Monday’s scheduled workout off until Tuesday.
5. Set intermediate goals. Intermediate goals pave the way to long-term goals. Because long-term goals are important to have—but may take years to achieve—it is crucial to have some smaller, more readily achievable goals along the way.
6. Training should be rewarding. “It’s not always fun,” Daniels admits about training, “but it should always be rewarding.” Sometimes a particular workout may not feel so great, but if a runner understands the purpose of each workout, it is more likely that he or she will understand that progress is being made—and that is certainly rewarding.
7. Eat and sleep well. Rest and good nutrition are parts of training and not, as Daniels explains, things that are done outside of training.
8. Don’t train when sick or injured. Daniels warns that not following this law often leads to a more prolonged setback than if a runner takes a few days off to recover from an illness or an injury.
9. Have a professional check chronic health issues. It’s not a big deal to feel below par now and then, but feeling consistently out of sorts is usually related to something that needs medical attention.
10. A good run or race is never a fluke. Finally, Daniels contends that while a bad run is sometimes a fluke, runners have great races simply because they were capable of doing so.
The way for runners to take advantage of these basic laws of running is to make them part of their everyday life. “From a runner’s standpoint, consistency in training is the most important thing that leads to success,” Daniels concludes. “That consistency comes from concentrating on the task at hand, neither dwelling on the past nor looking too far forward. The only thing you can control is the present. When you focus on that and remain consistent in your training, you’ll find your greatest success.”
Packed with new information, the third edition of Daniels’ Running Formula offers proven training plans for events from 800 meters to the marathon. The book has been completely updated so that the training plans are more intuitive and easier to follow. For more information on Daniels’ Running Formula, Third Edition, or other running books and resources, visit HumanKinetics.com.