Thinking of getting into long distance running but don’t know where to start? It might seem like a great idea to just go out and hit the pavement, but without proper preparation you risk injury or simply giving up due to lack of motivation.
The professional runners over at Built With Chocolate Milk have provided some excellent distance running tips based on their experience over the years.
Personally, I was hoping that drinking gallons of chocolate milk was the holy grail of running success, but these are probably a bit more effective:
Tips for distance running
1) Be consistent and be patient
The one thing every professional runner can agree on, is that training for long distance running takes time, and a regular, consistent training regime.
Running once a week won’t do the job. Three runs a week with a day of rest in between is ideal for building up your endurance. However this doesn’t mean going out and running 3 mini-marathons a week. In the video, 8x Ironman World Champion Paula Newby-Fraser explains that a 20 minute run is just as valuable. They key is to run, and run consistently.
Early on in your training, you’ll want to find your own stride and tempo so you can adapt to conditions on the fly and maintain your speed over the course of a race. A stable, economical stride will maximize your performance.
Just remember to let your body be the boss. As the people over at Runners World say: “While it’s tempting to just go out and run as fast as you can for as long as you can, you’ll ultimately run longer, feel stronger, and stay injury free if you start by adding short bouts of running to your regular walks and gradually increasing the amount of time that you spend running.”
Avoiding pain and injury early on is very important as you want to see progress and positive results from your training, which will motivate you to run even further, and get you closer to your running goal.
Your body also won’t adapt to long distance running at the same rate. Your muscles and cardio system will probably respond quickest, but your tendons, ligaments and bones will take longer to adapt. Consistency is key!
Although the Built With Chocolate Milk Science page does have a lot of great things to say about low fat chocolate milk…
2) Build a support network
Finding a group of likeminded people to run with will make you accountable for your goals, but also adds some fun and social interaction to your training.
Running and talking with veteran runners also gives you the chance to get feedback on your technique, and they’ll keep you motivated and provide encouragement as your performance improves.
Training with others can also take you outside of your comfort zone, whether that means running on an unfamiliar forest trail, or pushing yourself to go faster and further than ever before.
Running the same track every week can get boring and you’ll probably find yourself getting burned out or losing interest. A group of friends with their own preferred running tracks can add some variety to your training regime, so try to keep things interesting by varying your course and scenery.
Just remember, there will be some bad days. Maybe it’s snowing, maybe work has you really stressed and you just can’t stomach the idea of going for a run. Everyone has them, but they pass quickly and your support network is invaluable for getting back on track.
3) Celebrate your achievements
Nothing feels more rewarding than achieving your goals, so it’s a great idea to set achievable mini-goals. Every extra mile you run, or every personal best time is worth celebrating, as it brings you closer to that long distance goal, making all the sweat and tears worth it.
If you manage to run a mile from start to finish for the first time in your life, but your neighbor keeps boasting about finishing their 50th marathon, who cares!
As The Angry Jogger correctly states: “Comparing yourself to other runners is self defeating – For every time you feel superior to another runner, you’ll feel twice as bad when you see someone who is better than you. Every one runs the same road for their own reasons with their own set of circumstances.”
The key take out from all of this is that running should be a personal achievement no matter how fast or far you go, it’s about your goals not anyone else’s.
Keep that in mind and you’ll feel better about yourself, and every new personal record you set.