Whether you have a passion for running or are simply trying to improve your health, long distance running is an excellent choice of physical activity. Long distance running can improve your heart health, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and metabolism. Not to mention it’s a great way to improve your confidence.
That said, like any physical activity, long distance running isn’t something you can just jump into. In order to avoid injury and be the best runner you can be, you need to follow a few long distance running tips.
If you’re interested in getting into long distance running, we’ve got you covered! Listed below is a guide to everything you need to know to get started running today. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Start With Your Mindset
When it comes to running, mindset is half the battle, especially when you’re running long distances. Even if you’re physically fit enough for the run, you might find it difficult to build the mental endurance required to run a marathon or other great distance.
Remind yourself that it’s mind over matter. If you tell yourself that running is hard and you can’t do it, you increase the chances that those things become true.
Instead, have a positive picture in your mind before you start out on your run. Imagine yourself enjoying the run, feeling great, and finishing strong.
Though there are both pros and cons to wearing headphones while running, they can be extremely helpful if you’re struggling to conquer the mental aspect of long distance running. Put on your favorite album or podcast and watch the miles fly by.
When you build up your confidence, you’ll be able to run further and further with no distractions at all.
2. Perfect Your Form
The key to any physical activity is to perfect your form before you attempt to increase the difficulty. Proper running form is essential to avoiding injury and will make you a better runner overall.
As you run, remain conscious of your body and your posture. Keep your back straight and your head upright and facing forward. Your shoulders, wrists, hands, and arms should be relaxed and free of tension.
Lastly, ensure that your footfalls are straight. When your foot hits the ground, your toes should be pointing in the direction in which you’re going.
Pay attention to your breathing as well. Take deep breaths into your stomach, inhaling and exhaling through both your nose and mouth.
3. Mix up Your Route
Running the same route every single day is not only a great way to make running boring, but can also make it more difficult to build mental stamina. To prevent mental fatigue and keep your runs interesting, it’s a good idea to mix up your route often.
Take the time to do some digging online and in your area to find a few different options for your running route. Depending on where you live, there might be countless options available that you hadn’t considered before.
By planning your route in advance, you should be able to easily ensure that you’re running the correct distance. But if you want to double-check, consider wearing a distance tracker or using the one built into your phone.
Remember that you don’t need a sidewalk to run! You can tackle some trail running if you live near the mountains, which will also give you an opportunity to experiment with altitude training. Or, you could run on the beach, near a river, or on safe streets in your neighborhood.
Don’t be afraid to get creative in order to keep your runs exciting. You’ll have much greater success if running is something you look forward to every day.
4. Plan for Incremental Growth
In a world of instant gratification, it can be difficult to accept that certain activities, such as running, require incremental growth. You won’t reach your goals on your first day or even in your first month.
Plan for this in advance and be patient with yourself. Pushing yourself too hard to be a better runner will result in injury, on top of being terrible for your running confidence.
No matter if you’re just starting out or have been running for years, you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than 10% per week. So if you’re comfortable running 10 miles and want to take it to the next step, make it a goal to go 11 miles on every run next week. Attempting to jump from say, 10 to 15 miles in one week, increases your risk of injury and burnout.
Your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive. To escape becoming discouraged, it’s wise to have an overarching goal with small SMART goals to get you there.
5. Don’t Train Every Day
For many of us, our instinct is, more training equals greater results. But this is not the case; in fact, the truth is quite the opposite. In order to get the most out of your training regimen, you need to take breaks and take them often.
This is because your body doesn’t improve its fitness while you’re exercising but while you’re resting. Doing light training every day is okay, but after a particularly heavy training session, take a day or two off from running.
You might need to take additional breaks if you feel the wear and tear of running creeping up on you. Pay attention to your body, if you feel persistent pain during or after running, take a few days off and resume your routine when the pain is gone.
Don’t downplay possible injuries, either. If the pain hasn’t subsided after a break and several days, consult your doctor.
6. Hydration and Nutrition Are Key
No matter if you’re running inside or outside, in cold weather or hot, for long distances or short, your hydration and nutrition should always come first. Hydration and nutrition are the foundation for good health, and even more important for those physically active.
You might be surprised by how great of a positive impact a well-timed meal and plenty of water can make on your run.
With hydration, aim for 2 to 3 liters of water a day, more if you sweat during your workout. Begin hydrating well in advance of your training session, then stop for a drink of water every 30-45 minutes if your run lasts longer than an hour. When you’re done with your run, refuel with a mixture of water and recovery beverages.
In terms of nutrition, do your best to fill your diet with whole, nutrient-dense foods. You want foods that keep your energy and glucose levels steady without causing major spikes and drops.
Have a meal before your run, but be sure to give your body plenty of time for digestion in between. A good rule of thumb is to eat 3 hours before your run, this will give you energy without causing bloating or discomfort.
7. Equip Yourself With the Right Gear
One of the reasons running is such a great activity is that it requires very little gear. However, the gear you do need is highly important.
In hot weather, wear a loose top and shorts. This will allow for greater airflow and prevent sweat from accumulating on your body. When it’s cold, wear long pants and a sweater at minimum, a hat if it’s especially cold.
Regardless of the weather, you’ll need some high-quality running shoes. These are by far the most important aspect of your running outfit and something you should invest in if you can. Cheap running shoes will be uncomfortable, make it more difficult to run with proper form, and will likely wear out faster than quality options.
Do your research and try on a variety of shoes and brands to determine which is best for you. That said, a great place to start is with Brooks, a brand that specializes in running shoes. Take a look at the best Brooks running shoes for any runner, you might find that your quest to choose running shoes is easier than you thought!
Also, if you’re running outside, always wear sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher, as well as an SPF rated lip balm. Getting some fresh air and sunshine is fantastic, but you need to protect yourself from harmful UVB rays.
Use These Long Distance Running Tips to Improve Your Running Game
If you’re interested in improving all aspects of your health while boosting your confidence and self-esteem, running could be the activity for you! With these long distance running tips, you’ll be running marathons like a pro in no time.
Remember, it’s vital that you’re patient with yourself. Going slow and allowing yourself time to reach your running goals will make you more successful in the long run.
In need of further tips for getting the most out of your favorite sport or physical activity? Be sure to take a look at our blog!