So, Eliud Kipchoge adorns the walls of your room, your role model, the one you wish to emulate. From a very young age, he ran two miles to and from school. But what made these men superhuman on the track. Partly genetic, they have a very low BMI, longer legs, shorter torsos and slender limbs, almost birdlike. The bare, bold fact is they work hard. If you want to get anywhere remotely close, you will have to do just that.
How to Run Longer Distances?
1. Focus On Hydration and Nutrition
Carb loading is the first vital step. It provides the fuel. Oats, bananas, pasta, potatoes, plain yogurt, broccoli, coffee, etc. are all suitable foods for the runner. Also, someone who is running for 30 minutes and a person whose goal is 3 hours will need different diet plans. Without sufficient water, you will end up with cramps, mineral imbalances and collapse is imminent. Mix rehydration salts with water and drink that.
2. Always Warm-up
Long distance running is always preceded by a warm-up routine. Not sufficiently warming up prior to a run will summon side stitches and tightening of the muscles that will stalemate your plans prematurely. Do dynamic body stretches first and start off by jogging slowly before hitting full stride. This will get the circulation going nicely.
3. Slow Down
In your effort on how to run long distances faster, an indiscriminate increase in distance is to be avoided. This has to be a gradual process or you run the risk of getting sore and burnt out. A real, muscular tear or injury can sideline you for a considerable time. A rule-of-thumb is to increase distance by 10% every week. As you increase the distance, it should be along with a reduction in pace or you will face a deficit of strength. Just don’t rush it, you will get to your goal. The saying haste makes waste is befitting here.
4. Check Your Form
● Imagine that you are a puppet on a string, on a string with your body held long and straight and follow this running technique.
● When on a run, this is for beginners, avoid looking at your feet only. This is bad form. Focus ahead some 20 feet. This way you can avoid any trip falls.
● Another thing to be conscious of is the position of your head. It should not jut out imposing strain on the neck and shoulders. Shoulders and ears should be lined up.
● Keep your hands at waist level at 90-degree angles lightly brushing the hips. Relax your hands and arms. Fists should not be clenched. Think that you are clutching an egg and it shouldn’t get crushed.
● Your posture should be straight and upright. It will fight off fatigue.
● Relax your shoulders. Maintain an open chested posture. Do not hunch over or back. Breathing too gets easier. Do not shrug up your shoulders towards your ears. Pivot arms from the shoulders. Avoid the arms swinging across your chest, you will start hunching over and breathing gets harder.
● Do not run with a bouncy gait. A lot of energy is wasted in the vertical oscillation and as you land on your feet, foot fatigue results.
5. Build Gradually
Your pace should be just right for the distance planned. You are not competing and run the distance at an easy, conversational pace. Aim to complete in 2 minutes lesser than you would in a race. It’s easy to overdo things in training when you’re feeling good. But it’s better to be a little undertrained than the converse.
6. Use A Run/Walk Combination
You don’t have to complete the entire distance running. If you are running low on energy, break into a walk without getting tired. This is interval training and very beneficial for a great workout and cardio session. Your fitness level and endurance also benefit. Aerobic capacity too increases. As you get fitter, you can slowly resume jogging.
7. Run Long Every Other Week
Once every alternate week, plan on a real long run. You may need to fuel in between. It’s a very rewarding plan on boosting endurance levels and pushing yourself that little bit extra. If you can rope in company, it would be a truly exhilarating experience.
8. Prevent Treadmill Boredom
A treadmill is no doubt convenient, but it can become very boring too. Know your treadmill thoroughly, the various functions so that you can squeeze some fun out of it. Run at a slight incline or simulate climbing a hill with a steep incline and low speed. Follow the rules of posture. Try out interval training. Do clamp-on headphones and lighten up with music. And don’t frequently check on how long you’ve run or calories burnt. Do remember your stretching regimen.
9. Take Walk Breaks
It’s a good idea to punctuate your running program with a long walk instead once in a while. This gives the body breathing space.
10. Run with Other People
Once in a while, it becomes a drag to do your run. This is where roping in a buddy to do it together, is a great idea. Peer-to-peer pressure, competition, the conversational diversion, and motivational support, all add up. People who run in a company tend to be able to cover greater distances. There are several running groups you can be part of, just search online.
11. Run at A Conversational Pace
Many runners find setting the ideal pace difficult to achieve and as a result, fail to complete the run. You should not run at a pace that causes breathlessness. A simple test is that you should be able to strike up a conversation and continue without gasping.
12. Add Strength Training
Strength training here is not for becoming a gym rat. Specific regimes combining specific strength, endurance, and resistance exercises will tone your muscles, get you that ideal streamlined shape for running and acts as insurance towards warding off injuries. Resistance training promotes the running economy. Simply put, plenty of evidence links strength training to improved running timing.
13. Fight The Mental Battle
How to start running when out of shape? Many people have the strength and stamina to start running. But what holds them back; it’s a lack of mental resolve and confidence to push further. So how do you build mental endurance?
● Try self talk
● Break your run. If it’s a 20-mile run, tell yourself its four 5-mile runs.
● Adopt a mantra; ‘one more step,’ ‘one more step.’
● Imagination; visualize the finishing line coming up, you are an Olympic athlete, the applause from the stands, etc.
● Play the counting game; see how many white cars pass by.
● Your post-run plans such as that lovely salad you will soon be gorging on.
● Remember it’s not easy what you’re achieving. Pat yourself on the back.
14. Change Your Running Route
It is a constant battle not to allow boredom to creep in. A simple but very effective solution is to change your route, take in different scenery. Explore new neighborhoods and you can even search online for recommended tracks.
15. Dig Deep
Beginners especially find it difficult to overcome the pain of the run. You need to steel your resolve and dig deeper to summon up all the reserves to see it through. Over time, you will be waiting for when you can don your joggers and hit the trail.
16. Set Small Goals
Set yourself specific small term goals like I’ll keep on till the next milepost and from there to the next one. The point is to keep moving.
17. Don’t Skip Post-run Recovery
A common mistake. Just like you wind up your body by stretches before starting, winding down is equally important. Safe recovery is big. Never avoid it.
Mistakes to Avoid
● Wrong shoes. Go for the best. You will not regret this.
● Too much, too fast- For beginners, enthusiasm might be their undoing. You start gradually with walks, then walk/runs and finally easy-paced jogs. Overexertion initially causes sports injuries; shin splints, runners knee, ITB syndrome (a sharp knee pain)
● Poor upper body form
● Losing control on hills especially running downhill
● Insufficient hydration
● Wrong clothing
● In the beginning, going out too fast
Let’s Wind Up
The above is a pretty concise read-up on how to run longer distances. So what are you waiting for; slip into those trainers and track pants. It’s a terrific day to start, so off you go.