Once you have conquered a short run, you may want to test yourself at a longer distance yet with that comes a much bigger challenge.
There are many rewards to long-distance running including how it can improve your self-esteem, mental health, metabolism, and cardiovascular health.
You can also take your time with it and build up your distances gradually.
Learn to listen to your body and you can improve your efficiency, while you may also learn something from these essential tips.
In this guide, we will look at the various ways you can improve your long-distance running.
From how to recover, to the equipment you may want to invest in, and how you can keep to a tailored training schedule.
With any long-distance or a training plan that is set to make you become a long-distance runner, start slow.
Going out fast from the blocks is only for those who know they can comfortably complete a distance.
With any challenge, you want to gradually improve your performance so go easy on yourself at the start.
Invest In Durable Running Shoes
With a commitment to longer running distances comes a commitment to a pair of running shoes you can trust.
If your current pair of running shoes already feel uncomfortable over a short distance, that pain is only going to worsen the further you go.
You will be on your feet for longer so treat them well with some comfortable running shoes that are designed for long-distance running.
The last thing you want during a long run, especially an organized half or full marathon, is that you have to stop because of your running shoes.
Blisters and cuts on your feet may prevent you from running any further and are incredibly painful.
Support is also key as if the running shoes are not working with the shape of your feet then that lack of support could lead to injuries.
As well as the running shoes, look into some decent athletic socks for even more comfort while you conquer those long distances.
Wear The Correct Gear
While you may be able to get away with a cotton shirt and some chaffing for a short 3-mile run, over a longer distance those poor choices are going to be more pronounced.
You may have to tailor your attire depending on the weather and when you run.
For instance, if you decide to go out during the blazing sun in summer then a light pair of shorts and a loose shirt that wicks away your sweat is ideal.
Perhaps a headband too to prevent the sweat from dripping into your eyes.
During colder weather, you may want to opt for a light jacket to protect you from the cold and perhaps the rain.
There are also pairs of tights that can keep your leg muscles warm to prevent injuries and not affect your running. Instead of a headband, a woollen hat would prevent too much loss of body heat.
Stick To A Tailored Training Plan
You should already be prepared to start slow and it helps if your training plan takes that into account.
There is a challenge to long-distance running so set yourself a goal to reach at the end of a training plan.
It should be attainable and could simply be to reach a certain distance, maybe even an organized run.
You should know how ambitious you want to be, but also how often you can run and then rest appropriately.
Your tailored training plan does not just have to include running but you can mix it up with some weights.
Find the right balance between long-distance running and improving your cardio which will set you up nicely for the future.
It may even be an idea to consult with some qualified running coaches to find a specific plan that considers your running experience and your level of fitness.
Keep A Balanced Running Schedule
Keep in tune with your body so you do not schedule a series of particularly long runs that you will struggle to recover from.
Build up to that long run with a couple of short runs to gain confidence. That long-distance run should only be about 30% of your mileage for the week.
Improve Your Form
Should you get tired during a long-distance run, make sure that you can maintain your form. Over the distance, your form is crucial so pick up those weary feet and stand straight to conserve your energy.
Adjust Your Mindset
The key to conquering a long distance is not just physical, but mental too.
You can be anxious beforehand yet build up that confidence with how successful you feel following your training plan.
Finish strong, trust your training, and you should soon realize that you can do it.
Carbs, carbs, carbs. You need them to fuel your body with energy so consider oatmeal with dried fruit which will last longer and keep you going to the end.
Poor hydration is another error that you can likely get away with and recover from during a comparably short run.
However, long-distance running involves higher levels of perspiration and the expelling of toxins that will take a substantial amount of water from your body.
That means making sure you are properly hydrated before you run.
If you run in the morning, get up a bit earlier to make sure you have drunk some fluids.
Should you prefer to run later in the day, even at night, drink fluids during the day, including between meal times, so that when it comes time to run you are fully hydrated.
That’s before the run but you should also consider hydration during a long run, especially for those that last over an hour.
For an organized run like a half or full marathon, you may even want to consider an alkaline-rich recovery beverage.
Choose Your Route
Not only is the distance important, but how you reached it. Few want to complete a marathon on a treadmill, simply because it seems so boring.
Even if you do venture outside, completing the same route every time is likely to get very monotonous, very quickly.
If you live in a metropolitan area or by the coast, you should be keen to explore so choose your route wisely.
It may be the case that you want to cover the same route again, simply because you want to improve your time over that specific distance.
However, you can quickly cover a neighborhood or a park in a matter of weeks.
Long-distance running is also great for nature lovers as you can head to a park or into the hills and simply lose yourself in nature.
Mix up your routes and you could find yourself looking forward to the run and what you might see making the training plan seem like a treat.
Increase The Miles Gradually
Not only should you start slow for long-distance running, but you should increase the distance gradually.
Simply deciding that you can do a full marathon in a matter of a month’s training probably is not advisable, certainly not for your first one.
Design your training plan so that the total amount of miles each week is a bit more but it does not seem impossible.
Try to stick to the same amount of runs per week too but just go that little bit further each time.
Incremental growth is crucial and you should limit your increase of weekly mileage by just 10%. Even if you feel you can go much further the next week, only increase it by 10% then build again.
By keeping your workload and your distances in check, you can stem the risk of injury.
That means checking in with your body as you recover as even if you are hitting the distances, if your body fails to fully recover between runs then the chances of an injury increases.
Train With A Group
Everyone wants to be encouraged while they are running and that can be while you are training for a marathon rather than simply on the big day itself.
You may be able to join a running club where you can make friends from.
There is also safety in numbers which may mean you can conquer areas of your city that seemed dangerous when ran alone.
Running with others may also make the distance seem less challenging as you can chat along while you conquer those miles.
Do A Sweat Test
You may feel perturbed that you fail to feel thirsty while running or your hydration seems low.
Find out if you can do a sweat test to discover if you have a blunted thirst cue which may increase your risk of dehydration.
Simply weigh yourself before and then after a run, without any clothes.
You may want to pay attention to hydration more if you lost over 3% of your body weight, should you have gained weight then scale back the hydration, if you lost around 1 to 2% of your body weight then that’s fine.
Break Up The Distance
Try not to think of 10 miles as a 10-mile distance but rather 2 x 5 miles which may seem easier. If you can comfortably complete 5 miles then doing it again should be relatively easy.
Break Up Your Training With Walking
There may be instances where your form struggles during a run, in which case you should just walk to regain your composure.
Intervals are a great way to keep moving and let your body recover, they may also reduce muscle soreness. Try 5 minutes of running and then a minute of walking and see how you feel after that.
Organize A Motivating Playlist
If you like to listen to music while running then create a playlist that will get you fully charged for completing the distance.
You should also throw in some songs that you love and some songs that you know will motivate you.
It may not even be music that gets you through it as a good podcast or an audiobook can be a great distraction.
You do not want to be too distracted too though as you will need to pay attention to your surroundings so keep the volume down or only go with one earbud.
Pacing typically means listening to your body and knowing when you can push and when you can take it easy.
Your body will have its natural limit so if you do go too early, too hard, you may be ensuring that your energy is spent too soon and you cannot finish the distance.
This is where a fitness app can come in handy as you can use a pace calculator to look at your splits. If you did feel that you started too fast then you can gradually work on improving your pace so your body can last that bit longer.
Hydration is key yet so is refueling with food midway through a long run.
This should be especially considered for a run that takes over an hour as you want to replenish your calories to ensure that you can complete the distance.
Take some chews, gels, or powders that you can add to water for some fast-acting fuel. You may also prefer nuts and dried fruit if that works yet it may be difficult to take in food during a run so practice beforehand.
Get In That Crucial Post-Recovery
Once you have conquered a long-distance run, you should recover quickly with the right food. Eat quickly after finishing your run so your body is replenished with the energy it requires for the recovery.
For an especially hot day, or if your body sweats quite a lot, that should mean getting some electrolytes.
A post-long run meal should include plenty of carbs, fats, and protein while you may want to give yourself a deep tissue massage too.
Sign Up For A Long Race
If a New Year’s Resolution was to complete a half or full marathon, fix it into your training plan.
As you feel yourself gaining confidence with the increased mileage, sign up for a race. This real commitment should keep you motivated and keep you on track.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Secret To Doing Long-Distance Running?
If there was one overarching tip to bear in mind for long-distance running it is to take it slow. That means if you are finding your training plan too onerous, change it up.
Have some patience and gradually improve as going too hard, too fast typically results in injuries.
The practice of long-distance running is supposed to be enjoyable so take it slow and do your best to avoid injuries or any stress.
How Do You Build Stamina For Long-Distance Running?
Simply running long distances is one way to build up your stamina if you go further each time yet there are other ways to do it too.
Maintain your strength training as your muscles will benefit from a different sort of training.
That may also mean involving High Intensity Interval Training which may be a nice change to the running routine.
Once you commit to running long distances, it pays to prepare well. Get the right running shoes, fuel up properly, choose your route, and get a motivating playlist.
After that, it’s simply a case of building gradually so that you can stick to your training plan and gain confidence that you will complete the distance.