I often get asked how to run faster, and how to maintain that pace. If there is one thing I have learned from running and sport in general, it is to involve the right people. So the short answer if I am looking to improve my speed and endurance is I will ask my coach, Donnie Campbell. As well as representing Scotland, and achieving many outstanding results himself, Donnie is a fully qualified coach working with athletes, from complete beginners to international class athletes.
Donnie kindly agreed to share his secrets, which I am sure will help you run faster, for longer
At the end of the Namib Desert
How to Run Faster for Longer
Whether you are running a 10km, a 1/2 marathon, a marathon or an ultra marathon runners want to know how they can run faster for longer. There is no simple answer, there is not one miracle type of training, supplement or food. It comes down to hard work and doing a number of things well. I will briefly outline some training principles that if you apply to your own training then it will help you run faster for longer. As I said above to improve you will require to apply more than one of these.

  1. Learn to Run

Running is a skill! Everyone can kick a football but some people can kick a football better than others. Well, running is the same. Everyone can run but some people are more efficient at running than others. Working on your running biomechanics to make you a more efficient runner will help you run faster for longer. For some basic info on how to run more efficiently check out these videos or
(note you don’t need to be barefoot or in vibram fivefingers to run more efficiently)

  1. Build on Your Base Milage and Be Specific

The key to getting your legs used to running your desired distance is simply by putting in the miles.  Building the mileage up week by week. As a guide you should not increase your weekly / monthly mileage by more than 10% per week. Be sure to keep your runs specific to the event you’re taking part in. If it’s a flat run, train on the flat but if it’s a hilly run, train in the hills. Also try and avoid running on pavements as much as possible to reduce the risk of injuries.
Pavement damages joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The more you can run on grass, or dirt, the better off you are.
Avoiding tarmac!

  1. Speed Workout

Many people make the mistake of running too fast on their steady, long and recovery runs and then running too slow on their speed sessions because their legs are fatigued. Your steady and longer runs should be run at a pace where you can hold a conversation and where your heart is working at no more than average of 75% of your maxHeart Rate (HR). Depending on what your race is will depend on what speed session you will do but no matter what distance, your speed sessions are a vital ingredient for running faster for longer.
Hill Sprints / Short Intervals (100m, 400m, 800m,)
These will increase your VO2 max and running speed as well as build power in your legs. Sample hills sessions could look like; sprinting up a hill at 90-100% of max HR for 1-2 minutes followed by a recovery walk or jog back down the hill.
Tempo / Fartlek Sessions
These are again best run over similar terrain to what you will be racing on. For this you’ll be looking run close to your race pace for a 10k but run for 45mins to an hour, helping push your lactate threshold. Tempo running is part of the staple training plan of many elite Kenyan distance runners.

  1. Core, Strength & Conditioning

It important to incorporate this into your training to reduce the risk of injury and also to help maintain your running form when you are fatigued therefore maintaining efficiency so finding yourself running faster for longer. I recommend active yoga, pilates sessions for core, also don’t forget back is included in core. Body and free weight exercises are good for developing legs and upper body strength and muscular endurance.

  1. Nutrition

You can’t out train a bad diet. This expression is particularly relevant in a society where a growing number of people think an hour or so of running should be rewarded with a takeaway!. Learning from the Elite Kenyan runners, you should be looking to fuel your training and body. Kenyan runners base their diets on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables, fresh fruit, lean protein and natural fats. As guide to filling up your trolley at the supermarket is to think about what would typically grow in your garden and also sticking to the fresh food aisles and cooking your meals from scratch and avoiding ready meals and processed food. If you are all ready doing all of this in your training then you just have to improve on each principal and work harder if you want to be able to run Faster for Longer
About Donnie Campbell
Donnie Campbell, is one of Scotland’s top running coaches and is the founder and owner of Get Active Running (www.getactiverunning.ccom). He has worked with numerous athletes varying from complete beginners to national and international level athletes who have all seen improvement in performance under his coaching. Donnie knows what it takes to be successful as he has turned from a 17 stone jogger to one of Britain’s top ultra runners representing Scotland and  wining races all over the world. Get Active Running offers a range of services from one to one coaching, online coaching and training camps, for more info check out his website

Andrew & Donnie, running up Mount Kilimanjaro
Running Mt Kilmanjaro

Health mountains


Donnie Campbell and myself are going to try to run the 10 highest mountains in Scotland in a day. We are doing this because we had a free Saturday and fancied a challenge, but also to raise some money and awareness for SAMH (each penny makes a huge difference) and for the Fit in 14 campaign which is well worth supporting.
Some information about the challenge is going out to a few papers and magazines – give me a shout on if I can help with further information and the below
Scottish International distance runners Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell are set to attempt a climb of the 10 highest mountains of Great Britain in a day. Taking on a challenge that may not have been completed before, on the 19th of July they will first run up and down Ben Lawers before driving to then take a route including 4 mountains through the Nevis range, followed by another drive to the Cairngorm mountains, where the final 5 mountains await. The challenge, billed “The Big 10” will be followed by a team from BBC Scotland’s “The Adventure Show”, and may well set a marker that will see others trying to go under the magical 24 hours, with faster folks going for any potential record.

Andrew & Donnie, running up Mount Kilimanjaro
Andrew & Donnie, running Mt Kilimanjaro 2013

Dr Murray, 33, races for Merrell UK, and is a GP based in Edinburgh, whose previous conquests include completing a remarkable 2,559 mile run from Scotland to the Sahara Desert, a 7 hour run up Mt Kilimanjaro and races won in some of the most spectacular and hostile locations on Earth. He is part of the sports medicine team at the sport scotland institute of sport.
He said:

There is nowhere I would rather be than in the mountains of Scotland on a summer’s day. This will be a tough but beautiful shift, but what we are hoping to do is raise awareness of the benefits of exercise, and being in the great outdoors. We know for example that even doing 30 minutes walking 5 days a week has been shown to make people happier on average, and live 7.2 years longer, so we’re urging people to build walking into their routine, and take advantage of schemes like Fit in 14. It’s inspiring what some people have achieved for example Paul Giblin running the entire length of the West Highland Way in 14 hours 20 minutes, but even a little exercise goes a long way towards happiness and health.

Training in Edinburgh
Training in Edinburgh

Campbell, 29 is a running coach, and a former Marine Commando based in Edinburgh who previously ran from Glasgow to his former home of Skye without stopping.
He added:

It will be a 4 am start, followed by a full day of up and down, up and down. It is a completely do-able challenge, and we hope people will give ‘The Big 10’ a shot after us. Some fresh air and a load of hills might give us sore legs the next day, but it’s much underestimated how good exercise is for mental health as well as physical health, which is why we’re encouraging everyone to get active in whichever way suits them ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and are looking to support the Scottish Association for Mental Health, whose Get Active campaign is doing loads to increase Scotland’s mental health through physical activity

The Route:

Mountain Height (metres)
Ben Lawers 1,214
Aonach Mohr 1,221
Aonach Beag 1,234
Carn Mhor Dearg 1,220
Ben Nevis 1,344
Cairngorm 1,244
Ben MacDui 1,309
Braeriach 1,296
Angels Peak 1,258
CairnToul 1,291

Merrell UK



lappingthecouchFirst of all the great news. Thanks to the huge generosity and efforts of family, friends, and companies like Footworks Edinburgh, Merrell UK, Tribesports, the Balmoral Hotel and UVU racing, and dare I say it many people reading this blog, we reached our targets from Lessons From Africa. A special thanks also to Arnaud le Marie for his fantastic and unstinting website work, and to Ross Lawrie for producing brilliant Graphic Designs, posters, and other great stuff all of which has led to the success of this project, and previous ones also.  Over 1000 pairs of shoes have been sent out to support Running Across Borders, over £10,000 raised to support African Palliative Care Association, and vital medical equipment has gone out to support Chogoria Hospital. Massive, massive thanks everyone.
New years bring new ambitions. I love the simplicity of a poster I saw “No matter how slowly you are going, you will still lap those on the couch”. It’s kept me going in December, when times were slow and the days cold.
2014 will be a huge year for sport in Scotland, and one that I’m looking forward to enormously.  There will be fairly major personal challenges from a running/ adventure point of view, and some great stuff going on at work.
Next week sees my first outing race wise of 2014, racing the Anglesey Coastal Trail Series . It’s a 34 odd miler, with about 1000metres of ascent and descent in a fabulous part of the world.   I’m usually one to pick races based on a place I fancy going and the seaside villages, coastal tracks and stunning beaches as well as the customary hills sound an ideal way to spend a Saturday morning.  As a bonus it is on a Saturday, so we can go climbing in nearby Snowdonia the day after.  The last time I was in Snowdonia, I did the Welsh 3000 feet peak challenge in winter, climbing all the 3000 peaks consecutively and running between them. The itinerary on Sunday might be a little less hectic.
The weekend also offers a chance to race in some new kit. My principal sponsor for 2014 are Merrell UK. I’ve enjoyed working with them last year, partly due to the top quality of their footwear and clothing but also they are good people- for example donating 150 pairs of new trainers to Running Across Borders during last year’s Africa trip.  I’m delighted to be a brand ambassador for both footwear and clothing this year, and a Merrell Pack leader. You can join the pack here, for information and lots of free giveaways.
Both weekends so far have offered the chance to do what I enjoy best- get outdoors. Last Saturday we had some fairly variable (glorious sunshine to white-out) weather up Beinn a Ghlo and a few of the Perthshire mountains and felt we’d earned a beer at the finish. In preparation for an epic challenge this summer, both Donnie Campbell and myself will be spending a load of time in the mountains.  This weekend I’m up in Crieff with the family enjoying some outrageous sunshine and doing a load of outdoor things.
Last year I had the chance to climb, run, bike and hike in a load of cool places, from the Dolomites to East Africa, but actually many of the amazing days were in the UK- running along the Giant’s Causeway and immense adjacent rock formations to days in the forests, on the coast, or in the mountains of Scotland. We also had some almost perfect weather for a week in the lake district.  This year will be no different, with trips planned at home and abroad- it is incredible what you can see in even a day.
Andrew & Kids
Work wise having largely worked in sport for the last year, I’ll start to direct more efforts into getting more people more active more often. For some of the reasons why check out a cool video called 23 ½ hrs, whilst January means that 6 Nations Rugby is round the corner, where I’ll be assisting Dr James Robson with the Scotland team during February as well as doing ongoing work with European Tour and Challenge Tour Golf, and the SportScotland Institute of Sport.
I’ve also started writing my second book – which will offer insights and smart solutions into the Science and Medicine of running for longer, and faster. I’ll share excerpts from this on my blog.
I’m speaking at a few (public) events in February, these ones feature some great line ups: Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival and Sports and Exercise Medicine Symposium.

Running Challenges


In 2012, I fancied trying out the extremes of temperature. This included running in the chilly North Pole, the Antarctic Ice Marathon, the searing heat of Outer Mongolia in their summer, as well as doing 7 ultra marathons on the 7 continents in under a week. I guess it was a form of extreme sightseeing. The year was pretty full on from a work point of view, never mind the bonus of travelling.
So for 2013, the plan was to spend a bit of time in the hills with Jennie doing our own thing, and sharing these sights with her. We’ve been in the hills of Skye, the Dolomites in Italy, as well as a whole range of other places in our trusty campervan.

Running in Dolomites
Running in Dolomites- Andrew Murray

I also wanted to spend a bit of time with my family, so an ideal solution was to head to Kenya, where I was brought up, learn a load from the best athletes on earth, as well as running up and down mt Kilimanjaro, mt Kenya, and running ultras each day we were out there. I also ran in the Scottish Championship race, managing to be first Scot home (although I hadn’t formally registered with Scottish Athletics so didn’t get the trophy.) Another part of the world I’ve always wanted to spend time is the Giant’s Causeway, so the chance to race and perform well out there was one I looked forward to.
Running that volume of ultras in the summer (18 in 18 days) killed any speed I had so it would have been pointless competing before now, but next week sees the IAAF/ IAU World Trophy 50km series come to Austria. I’ll hopefully  be racing for UVU/ Merrell out there in what promises to be an epic.

Having said that my knee flared up running in the hills at the weekend, so I will have to treat it aggressively, and see if it responds.  I’d planned to run Cairngorm and Ben MacDui , and felt ok until MacDui. At this point my knee hurt enough to make running painful so I just walked back. The weather had clagged in and i traversed around to get back quicker- but got myself a few hundred yards off course. I was pretty cold, and was pleased to see a couple climbers from England who not only pointed me in the right direction, but seeing i was shivering actually offered to walk me back to the furnicular for a ride down. I was offered a hot chocolate and a warm blanket by incredibly helpful staff at Cairngorm Mountain. I would have got myself down but the kindness, jacket and hot chocolate were most welcome. Even though I’ve spent time in some famously cold places, the wind and drenching rain in the hills can be as cold as anywhere, and has reminded me to make sure I pack extra clothes and food. Scotland has some of the most breathtaking and beautiful mountains (as well as some of the friendliest walkers) on earth, but it can get cold fairly quickly.

My right knee currently is twice the size of my left due to a pre-patellar bursitis, so hopefully this settles in time.  If the knee doesn’t settle- i’ll go out to Austria but not race.
2014 is quite a hectic year work wise for me, with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, along with my usual work. But to be honest I am not sure I would cope with not having a challenge or two on the horizon, so I will definitely go out and race in the 50km World Trophy Final (qualification permitting), I’ll be doing an exciting challenge with Donnie Campbell in Scotland, and have an exciting speedclimb in Asia up my sleeve.
So I’m looking forward to next week, and year. This year I’ve benefitted from so much support not only from principal sponsors UVU racing, Merrell, and the Balmoral, but from friends, family, and all those that have collected shoes for Running Across Borders, or money for APCA, and SAMH. Together we’ve managed to send more than 800 pairs of shoes, and vital medical supplies to many locations worldwide, and raised well over £100 000 for the Yamaa trust, APCA, and SAMH. It’s also great to have established links with excellent organisations like the John Ngugi Foundation.

Physical Education

RUN YOUR FIRST 5K, 10K OR MARATHON – with Donnie Campbell

Donnie  was once 17 stone and by his own admission could barely run a 5k, but in 2008 he took up running to lose weight and improve his fitness.  Since then he’s lost 4 stone but won a load of races. He is now a top Running Coach and Personal Trainer.

Doctor Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell
Doctor Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell

Donnie  shares 10 tips that personally helped him get started.
Enter A Race
As this will give you a goal to aim for and will help keep you focused and motivated. It does not matter what race you enter as long as its a realistic target for your abilities, so for example if your goal is to run a marathon but have never ran before don’t enter a marathon thats 2-3 months away instead enter one maybe a year away as that will give you plenty time to train and build up for it. Check the Scottish racing calendar.
Get a Pair of Running Trainers
I am a big fan of natural/minimal running as I believe its a more efficient running style, however there is no evidence it reduce injury rate compared to Normal running trainers. So my best advice is find a pair of trainers you feel comfortable to run in and go for it.
Get Out And Run
No matter what your ability is everyone can run, if you are a beginner and can only run for a min, then run min, walk a min and repeat and gradually build it up.  Find an excuse to go running- visit a friend.  For more advice on training check out
Speed Work
No matter what race distance you are doing speed work is important, as if you keep increasing the distance and time you run and don’t do speed work your pace will become slower. I recommend at least 1 speed session depending on what race and fitness level you are at. The most common speed session are Interval, Fartlek, Hill repetitions and Tempo Run. Get more info and suggested speed session.
Join a Running Group or Get a Running Partner
There are so many benefits from joining a running group or having a running partner, it can increase motivation, adherence to your training, as you are less likely to miss a session if you have to cancel on someone. My favourite reason is it make running more sociable and there is nothing I like more than going away for a weekend with friends to run in the hills. Find a running club in your area
Change Eating Habits
The majority of people take up running to lose weight, and when it come to weight loss diet counts for 70% and exercise 30%, so even if you train like an athlete if you have a poor diet and consume more calories than you burn you will still struggle to lose weight. As a Personal Trainer I don’t like to put people on diets as there are only a short term measure, instead I like to try to change the eating habits and behaviours this way once they have lost the weight they will be able to keep it off as well. I recommend only making a few changes to your diet at any one time this way it increase the chance of sticking to it and less likely to fail and give up. So for example change semi skimmed milk to skimmed milk and white bread to brown bread, once this has become a habit then I would look at changing something else like limiting chocolate to one bar a week and so on.
Cross Train
Cross Training can be really effective as it can reduce the risk of  injury especially if you have just started running while still improving your cardiovascular and muscular endurance, also means in some case you can still train even when injured to maintain your fitness. Types of cross training I recommend for running are core workouts (stomach and back muscles), cycling, yoga, Pilates, swimming and walking, basically anything that get your heart above its resting rate and holds it there for at least 20min!
Reward Yourself
Rewarding yourself can be a wee trick used to increase your adherence and motivation to your training. For example if you reach my target or even if I I don’t miss a training session this week I will reward myself with a new piece of running equipment. Also posting about your training on social media sites can be looked as a reward as your friend will likely congratulate you on your commitment to  your training. Note of caution don’t reward yourself after every run with a cake or a take way as this is a short cut to a bigger pair of jeans!!
Running is a Skill
Just like kicking a football running is a skill. Yes everyone can run but some people run more efficiently than others, just like everyone can kick a football but David Beckham can kick a football more effectively than me. So towards the end of a run try to run like you did at the start
Most Importantly have Fun, the best form of physical activity is the activity you enjoy doing as you are more likely to do it more regularly, so if you enjoy running excellent if not find a sport or physical activity you do enjoy doing. Running decreases risk of dying prematurely by 30% so you’re doing yourself a massive favour by getting out there