How to Prepare for Long Distance Running

How to Prepare for Long Distance Running

Running is one of those things; you either love it or loathe it. I remember when I was first trying to get into running it sparked mixed emotions, all those high school memories came flooding back. I was one of those kids that used to forge a letter from my dad explaining how sick I was, and how I shouldn’t be taking part in any physical activity.

As we get older, a lot of things change and this includes how we view things in our lives. Things we used to think that sucked, sometimes start to look attractive.

Running was precisely one of these things for me.

One of the things I learn on the way was how to enjoy running without injuring myself.

How to Prepare for Long Distance Running

The Reasons Why Some People Detest Running

A lot of people I know don’t like running.

This could be for any number of reasons including:

  • They don’t see the importance of it
  • They don’t feel they should be running because they are slim
  • They remember their school runs when they used to come last

I remember when we used to practice running in school, our teacher used to make us go full pelt over a distance, and those who came last, tended to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. They were called all sorts of names, “girlie… sissy… weakling…p***y”, you name it, I was called it!

Running Doesn’t Have To Be Express Pace

Look at running this way: if your longest distance is 3K for instance, imagine how much further you could run if you eased off the gas a little.

So the next time you feel like going for a run and you normally do 10 minutes a mile on a treadmill for instance, step outside and try running that mile in 15 minutes. This way you won’t strain yourself, it won’t become a torment, and you might actually enjoy it.

Running at a slower pace is great exercise, and it won’t put you off the whole thing. All the serious marathon runners that I know tend to cover each mile two or three minutes slower than they would on the actual day.

Not only does this help avoid injury, it’s a great way of gradually building up resilience.

The Secret Trick I Use to Avoid Injury

I realized that taking smaller steps in my run helps me stave off aches, pains, niggles, and even serious injury. I picked this trick up from my best friend, who has been a serious marathon runner for 15 years now.

If you take time and look at marathon videos, you’ll notice that the best runners take at least 190 steps every minute. Now compare this to a novice’s stride, you’ll notice he will be taking 35 to 40 fewer strides every minute.

The thinking behind this is…taking smaller and more frequent steps means your feet are spending less time on the ground, ultimately meaning less impact on every contact.

The benefits don’t end there. Turning your feet over quickly will force your feet to stay directly under your body, meaning that you will always land on your mid foot. The opposite of this is going full pelt, with your heels crashing down with your leading-leg miles in front of you.

It’s quite easy to train yourself for this new style of running. For instance, 180 steps a minute equates to 3 steps every second. The trick is to lock your brain into a rhythm whilst looking at a clock, easily done on a treadmill.

My preferred method is listening to a real fast tune, timing my steps with its tempo.

I could tell you right now, it will feel like the weirdest thing in the world at first because you will feel like Fred Flintstone!

Mix-Up Your Workouts

It’s quite possible to just stick to slow running, and you could eventually compete in a marathon. As a matter of fact, a lot of marathon runners only stick to slow running.

But if like me, you’re the type of person that finds regular slow running tedious at times, it’s best to mix it up with some harder routines designed to shock your body and make you stronger.

I use two variations to keep things interesting; running fast, and running just beyond my comfort zone.

Running Fast

The purpose of running at a faster pace is to help you break out of the mundane task of slow running. The best place for faster running is a track, or any flat terrain that allows you to keep an eye on your pace, your time, as well as markings so you know exactly how far you’ve run.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Run half mile at brisk pace
  2. Time how long it took me
  3. Jog the remaining half mile
  4. Repeat the whole process three times and try to beat my previous time on every occasion

Admittedly, running fast can be tough so try to keep this down to once or twice a week.

Running Just beyond Your Comfort Zone

The intensity at which the body goes from a comfortable aerobic state to a more demanding situation that requires lots of oxygen is called your anaerobic threshold.

This type of training helps your body to increase its ability to deal with high intensity situations. In other words, it prepares your body to remain comfortable for longer when running at higher speeds.

The best way to describe this type of training is comfortable but difficult at the same time. Ideally, you should pace yourself in a way where you can manage around 45 minutes before collapsing.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Run for 20 minutes at that pace
  2. Do this three times a week maximum
  3. Run faster the next time

Running Long-Distance

The long distance run is the ultimate dedicated runner’s run. It’s likely to be the longest workout in your diary, and is relatively uncomplicated, because it’s run at an easy pace. It’s sometimes wise to stop for water and quick nutrition that you could bring along with you.

For me the hardest thing about long distance running is the fact that it’s monotonous. If you’re the type of person who gets bored quickly like I do, you’ll definitely need to bring some entertainment with you in the form of an MP3 player with your favorite playlist.

Refueling is Important

The food you eat before and during your run will have a massive impact on your performance.

Before Running

Before embarking on your run, you’ll need plenty of carbohydrates inside you, as well as a bit of protein. Usually a 3 to 1 ratio is sufficed. Personally I avoid eating any fats, as well as fiber for obvious reasons. I could tell you a few stories about high fiber foods I’d eaten before my runs but I don’t want to put you off!

During Running

Without stating the obvious, you’ll need plenty of water to help you deal with the intensity, humidity and the heat. If I am running for less than an hour, I probably won’t bother finding something specific to eat. The human body stores enough glycogen to last an hour and a half before it shuts down.

If I’m going on a longer run, typically more than an hour, I will try to ensure that I eat around 60 g of carbohydrates for every hour I intend exercising. This will help keep my glycogen levels up.

I find energy drinks particularly useful because they provide me with calories and electrolytes.

Alternatively, everyday fruit and energy bars are my preference when I need a change.

After Running

Okay you’ve finished your run. You now have a finite number of crucial minutes commonly referred to as the “recovery window”. This recovery window is just as important for your future performances as anything else you do.

I recommend eating a man-size meal full of carbohydrates and protein, preferably 5: 1 carbs to protein ratio.

To Conclude…

You should look at running like this…you wouldn’t go to the gym and do the same exercise on every occasion and nothing else would you? It’s important to recognize that muscles need to rest after a strenuous workout.

And the same principle applies to running. You need to allow your body time to heal and recover, and eventually improve.

QUICK TIP!

I recently started using a natural testosterone boosting supplement after a friend advised me to try one out. I’ve noticed that my muscles seem to be recovering slightly quicker than when I wasn’t using one.

When you’re first starting out, look at your runs the same way you would look at your weight training routine for example. In between your routines, it’s crucial that you take it easy and rest. Make sure you have your days off and mix it up a little.

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