Author Interview: Robbie Britton, 1001 Running Tips
- Tuesday 9 November 2021
Robbie Britton is a world twenty-four hour running medalist who is well-known in the running community. An author and editor at popular running website Fast Running, Robbie has also written for numerous running magazines including Runners’ World, Trail Running and Men’s Running. He is a UK Athletics qualified run coach and has coached multiple successful ultrarunners. Robbie has poured his wealth of running and coaching experience into his first book, 1001 Running Tips. In this interview Robbie discusses his motivations and inspirations for writing the book and gives out some extra running advice.
Looking ahead I could see Dan going the wrong way, but was excited for the rest I'd get waiting for him to come back on course. © James Vincent
What was your main motivation for writing the book?
It’s been a life-long ambition to write a book, mainly due to my Nana’s love of reading that she imparted onto all her grandchildren. Each month we got a £5 book token and I would spend hours in the bookshop trying to find just the right book, but really just enjoying being in one of my favourite environments.
Fast forward all these years and it’s just great to be able to write something that can help others on their running journey. Anyone who knows me is probably fed up of me dishing out tips left, right and centre so it’s been good for them to have a respite while I popped all my thoughts onto paper instead.
What is the thing you enjoyed the most about writing the book?
The progress as the tips piled up. I’m competitive by nature and love charting progress, so I drew up a big chart next to my desk that I coloured in as each 100 tips built up.
The style of the book means that on any given day I could move about to write about what I felt about writing on that particular day, so it was never a chore to come up with the tips.
What is your favourite tip from the book?
That’s like asking someone to pick their favourite child when they have 1001 of them. I enjoyed writing a lot of them, but one that I think is important for all runners is number 11:
11. Running is fun. If it stops being fun for more than one hill session, then step back and think about why. If you’re not enjoying the training, the racing or even the community, then maybe you need to nap more.
How did you get into running; what inspired you to start running?
It was actually a friend called Adam Smith, or Smithy. He signed up for the Windermere Marathon back in 2009 and I couldn’t let him have all the bragging rights for months afterwards so I signed up too. Before that my running was something I did for other sports, mainly football.
My Ma ran the London marathon twice back in the early 2000s so it was always in my mind to run a marathon, but I still haven’t toed the line at London. It’s my home city and a race I’ve put on a pedestal over the years and one I’d want to do well at, so haven’t felt ready yet!
1001 tips is a lot, was it difficult for you to come up with so many?
Not really, because we covered such a huge range of subjects. Even since the book was finished I’ve come up with more subjects I’d wished we’d covered, like running during and after pregnancy.
What was the proudest moment of your running career?
From my running career it’s still the 2015 World Champs, where we won team Gold for Great Britain and I finished third in the world myself with 261km, although it’s a little sad to say that as I had hoped that was just the beginning but I’ve acquired a long-term injury that’s put a bit of a spanner in the works for my twenty-four hour running.
Nowadays my proudest moments are as a coach, when an athlete achieves something they never thought possible or a long term goal we’d worked towards together.
Petra the super hound joined us for the second half of the Jordan Trail and then we found her a new family at the beach. © James Vincent
For experienced runners, what advice would you give them on how to improve their running time?
Take a step back and think about what you could do differently. While being patient and consistent will keep bringing improvements year on year, sometimes you reach a plateau and a change is necessary.
It doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel with your training, but you might need to look at different motivators or goals, or maybe a change in distance or terrain could be the impetus you need to make that next progression.
What tips do you have for anyone looking to get into running?
Keep it fun and enjoyable. In the early days we see a lot of progression and it can become what we focus on, but the enjoyment of running is key to long-term progress, as is the community too.
If you’re over-working for short term goals and end up losing motivation and drive for the long term because of this then it’s less likely you’ll reach your full potential.
If you were to go back and write the book again, would you do anything differently?
As mentioned above I’d make sure there was a section for pregnant runners, that’s the main section I felt I missed and will try to do some articles with Fast Running on the subject in the future as I think it’s an area we don’t talk about enough.
When running an ultra, what's the one thing you can't live without?
Food. Ultrarunning is just a long picnic with some running and walking thrown in, even when going as fast as possible. Work on your stomach as much as you do your heart, lungs and legs.
For more tips and running advice from Robbie, click HERE