How to Prepare for Long Distance Running

Long distance running is a form of continuous running across distances for at least 5 miles (8 kilometers). According to physiology, running is a large aerobic exercise which requires mental strength and stamina.

Long distance running recommended for several reasons such as physical exercise, travel, recreation, cultural and economic purposes.

Long distance running is the best workout for cardiovascular health improvement. It promotes aerobic fitness by enhancing hormones and active enzymes which stimulate heart and muscles to work more efficiently.

During traditional days, long distance running is known for ceremony among Tarahumara and Hopi people.

Distance running also serves as a bonding workout for friends, colleague, and family. It is a popular activity for building a nation.

In athletics sports, long distance running is described as races which cover 1.86 miles (three kilometers) and more. There are three common running types such as road running, track running and cross country running, these all are described as their terrain – natural and road terrain and weather tracks respectively.

Standard long-distance running races start from 3000 meters to 10, 000 meters that 6.2 miles.

Cross country races range from 5 to 12 km that is 3 to 7 and a half miles, but road races are longer than that up to 100 kilometers – 60 miles and beyond.

Runners from east Africa are successful due to the high altitude of the region. The mountain air helps in endurance training and promote red blood cells which increase more oxygen supply to veins.

Long distance running achievement requires dedication, discipline, and proper training. A well-planned training can help to improve your long-distance running performance and also reduce the risk of injury.

While preparing for a long-distance run of 10 k or marathon, you should check for strength, mileage, flexibility, recovery days and quality of running workouts.

Run Long

Long distance running needs full stamina. Consider weekly running to build running endurance. Long-running helps improve fat metabolism and raise your body’s ability to store glycogen. It trains your body and mind to get prepared for running for distance. The long-running distance depends on the length of distance you plan for the race.

According to running coach Hal Higdon, half marathoner establishes a long run of 10 miles and full marathoner increase to 20 miles running.

Combine your long run with a present longest weekly run and every week increase by one or two miles for three weeks. During running in the fourth week, decrease your long distance running by 25% and allow yourself to recover. Continue this practice for four weeks cycle until you build the desired result of long distance running.

Run Fast

To become a successful long-distance runner, you should add one quality workout in your weekly training in which you have to run faster than your regular running speed. Running harder exercise will make you run faster in overall speed for long distance races.

For example, Quality running exercises such as tempo run, track intervals and hill repeats which will speed of workout but it can cause injury if repeated more.

It is recommended for beginners to add only one quality workout every week and experienced runners can add two weekly quality workouts.

Build Strength

Strength is all you need while long distance running because strength helps to decrease the risk of injury and boost economy running. It helps your body to resist rigidity of more miles running.

This strength training is different from bodybuilding. You can perform at least 15 to 30 minutes of strength exercise for two or three weeks is enough for good runners. According to Running trainer Jack Daniels, doing a round of exercise that strengthens your whole body such as core, legs, chest, shoulder, back, and arms helps to build strength for long-distance running.

Work on Flexibility

Long distance training should include stretching workout as it helps to reduce the injury risk. It helps to promote running efficiency and speed up recovery.

Perform stretching workout after finishing your running exercise because it should be done when muscles are warm and avoid stretching cold muscles. During your exercise sessions make sure to target hamstrings, quads, glutes, abductors, calves, and flexors. While stretching, hold the muscle for 20 to 30 seconds for two to three times to get the most effectiveness.

Take a Break

Like another workout, long distance running also requires relaxing and recovery while training. Let your body to adjusts with training stress and become stronger while the training process. If you do not let your body to adapt the training stress, then it may contribute to the risk of injury from overtraining.

The volume of recovery and rest depend on your running history and fitness levels. Beginners will require at least two days rest from running every week, while experienced runner will require only one day rest each week.

If you wish to stay active during the rest day, continue doing general activities such as easy swimming, walking, and yoga.

Run Outside

Using a treadmill for preparing long distance running can be boring. Treadmill running is physically easy, but it can be mentally challenging. If there are good weather and safety, then go outside for running practice. You will be able to run longer than normal when you feel the fresh air and see new routes, scenery which helps to distract you and make your running interesting.

While running outside, you may worry about getting lost in unknown places. Before heading to your outside running, do some research about the area, take a map and ask a friend to help. You can join online forums of running to find popular routes.

When you are running outside for the first time, go slow because your muscles and joints work hard to push your body forward and running in uneven terrain. Running outside can be challenging because if the road is smooth you will run properly otherwise uneven, up and down may cause to lower your energy levels.

Give sufficient time to your body to balance with outdoor running by replacing the treadmill. Choose a short space for outside running to adjust your body strength. To avoid injuries in joints, begin to run on smooth surfaces such as wooded trail, track or grass.

Warm up

Do warm up before running as it helps to loosen up your bones, muscles, and joints. Warmup helps your heart to maintain a gentle and gradual rhythm to sustain your running. Doing warm up before a run helps to feel energetic for a longer time and keeps you excited for next workout.

How do you warm up?

Begin a slow and gentle walking for 3-5 minutes. Walking is an ideal low-intensity exercise which makes it easy for your body to change from sitting mode to workout mode. The walking movements prepare your joints, tendons, and muscles for a range of motion for running. Walking helps to enhance your blood flow and increase your muscles and core temperature to signal your brain that it’s time to run.

Walking as a warm-up is the best exercise for runners who are joining back after an injury.

Combine run and walk

Don’t take long running stress. When you are preparing and training yourself, don’t run full length you have decided. You can combine running with walking to cover more distance. This combined workout will gradually help to build fitness and your confidence needed for long distance running.

Laws behind Run Walk Run:

  • Constant muscles use result in fatigue
  • The longer run cause more fatigue
  • Running and walking is a type of interval training
  • It helps to recover quickly
  • Run walk prevents stress on weak muscles
  • It reduces the temperature of the core body

Run with Other

Running can be interesting and easy when you run with your friend or partner. You can run longer if you have the following things.

  • Peer pressure
  • conversation distraction
  • Motivational support

You can join a running group around or ask a family member or friend to run with you.

Prevent Side Stitch

While running, you may feel a sharp pain in your sides which describe as side stitches which can cause you up short. Often side stitch distracts and discomforts you while running.

You are not the one, according to a study of 2015 70% of runners get the stitch pain which medically known as exercise linked with temporary abdominal pain.

What cause side stitches?

Running quickly after eating cause stitch pain. Even, some runners experience stitch in your sides if their stomach is still full.

  • Running without warm-up causes side stitch.
  • According to research sweet beverage consumption before exercise increase stitches.
  • Scoliosis – spine curvature causes stitch while running.

While you are preparing for long-distance running make sure to prevent side stitch. Here are the tips to prevent side stitch.

Slowly push your fingers in the pain area which helps to reduce some pain.

Adjust your breathing pattern by taking a deep breath as fast as you can and push down the diaphragm. Hold your breath for few seconds and forcibly breath out by pursed lips.

Also, try to alter your striding pattern. If you exhale while taking right foot strike the ground, then try to exhale with left leg strike.

If you find the above things difficult then try to reduce the brisk walk and focus on deep breathing. After getting rid of stitch continues with running.

Prepare your mind

Long distance-running start with your mental strength. Some people feel very anxious when they see the distance to run, and they never thought of it before. It may seem a very long distance in the training plan. You can make the long-distance running easy by preparing yourself mentally.

Try to visualize your route that you have the plan to run and think about yourself running well and finishing strong.

Go slow and create trust in yourself and your training. Tell yourself that you can do it. Staying positive will help you to run harder without getting problems.

Playing mind games can help you such as taking new routes for running, running with others.

Talk to your self

While running alone, you can do pep talk with yourself. Keep telling yourself that you are strong enough to complete the run. You will have fatigue, and you will pass it.

You can tell yourself that you will get water at some time which will make you feel better. Remind yourself that how proud you will be after finishing the longest run.

Divide Your Run

Try to divide your run into shorter segments which will make you feel the distance small and manageable. For example: tell yourself running 20 miles are only four segments of 5 miles.

Practice Imagery

When you hit a rough spot, imagine yourself as a best Olympic athlete who is about to reach the finish line. Imagine yourself running as graceful, relaxed and smooth. You can also think of the best runner who is your ideal and think of yourself as them.

Play counting fun games

If you are running with many people, then you can try playing games such as choose a topic of running accessories, or clothing and count how many of wearing it. Even you can count certain model or colors of cars.

Make run plans before

Making plans about what you wish to do after running will make your brain flexible and let you focus on the run. You can decide anything like meeting a friend or attending get together or taking a business call. During long distance, preparing post planning organizes your training and plans.

Manage your hydration & nutrition

You need to add healthy carbs to your long-distance diet plan during preparation. Healthy carbs help to provide energy to your body. The carb requirement is different for someone running 30 minutes from someone running for 3-hours. Therefore, play around to check what best suited for you.

If you are feeling good while running, then you are eating sufficient carbs, but in case of struggling to run, then you need to increase the carb amounts. Consume 7 to 10 grams of carb according to each kg of your body.

Good Carb Rich Fruits:

Grapefruit, Apples, Cantaloupe, Blueberries, Peaches, Bananas, Oranges, Strawberries, Pears, Grapes, Pineapple, Plums, Acai berries, Blackberries, Mango.

Good carb vegetables:

Sweet potatoes, Beets, Corn, Black-eyed peas, Garbanzo beans, Pinto beans, Lima beans, White beans, Butternut squash, Pumpkin, Plantains.

Watch your hydration needs

Long distance running will require proper hydration every day to recover from losses. Providing enough fluid to your body is essential to recover from losses of fluid from sweat rate, temperature, exercise intensity, altitude, and duration. It is not necessary to replace the fluid while race but instead aim to replace around 150% fluid volume lost over the session of 4 to 6 hours.

How much water do you require to drink?

Pre-running hydration: Drink at least 17 to 20 fl.oz before two hours of running to feel better hydration.

Maintain hydration: Take 15 minutes of break during running and drink 5 to 10 Fl.oz.

After running hydration: Drinking enough water after a run helps to bring back your liquid levels to normal and improve recovery. Aim to take 16 to 24 Fl.oz. of water for each pound lost during running.

Avoid long distance mistakes

The long-distance running preparation requires a continuous running program. It helps to learn your body to prepare for spending time on your feet. It helps to understand how to use fat as a principal fuel source. Make sure avoid the following long-distance running training mistakes.

Avoid running quickly on a far place

Often, in excitement, you run quickly in long distance and complete it which contribute to body pain and poor performance.

For example: If your long-distance run is about 4 miles then you should plan lesser than 5 miles. The main goal of your run is prepared for the final race while managing healthy and fresh training.

Avoid running too fast

There is a lot of difference in fitness running which require constant week to week, and long-distance training requires builds in the whole season. This process is essential to increase effort levels during training. Try to run at pace and have a conversation to make your running easy.

Avoid too much sugar

Sports drinks are known for fuel to your body. You can consume energy in the form of sugar, but if you take it excess, then it will cause stomach upset and nausea.

Everyone uses a different kind of Fueling drinks to their body. Some people consume energy drinks which contain electrolytes, sugar, and fluid for easy digestion.

Run by pace rather than feel

Running by pace is the easiest way to prepare. Avoid running in hot temperature which can make your body to perform harder. Hot days running will create stress and fatigue while training. If your effort is easy, then you will manage to cover the long distance.

Avoid back to back long run

Like other games, long distance running will require good efforts and constant training but remember you don’t need to run back to back. Schedule your long distance running and aim to finish some number of distance and take rest.

You can also take a short run one day and long run another day which will help your body to recover from previous efforts. Make sure your long-running efforts are worth the quality.


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