How to run a long distance without getting injured? How to cope with lack of inner motivation and confidence? Can I eat and drink during a marathon race? What main aspects should a long distance running training include?
We all know about numerous benefits of long distance running, however, far from all can answer these questions and distinguish between the truth and the myth about endurance running.
That’s why we decided to make this list of 10 tips about long distance running that every amateur runner should know to avoid the main running blunders on their way to success.
- Put Your Comfort over Style
‘Comfort over style’ is the first golden rule of any sports activity: no matter how fashionable those sneakers are – it is support, comfort, and lightweight you should bear in mind when choosing a pair of shoes for long distance runners. Remember to replace the runners after every 400-450 miles, as soon as you start noticing the first signs of wearing off.
The same applies to all the rest of your kit. Opt for synthetic fabrics (like spandex and polyester) rather than cotton, as they’re much better than cotton at wicking away sweat, some of them are also odour-resistant. Don’t neglect to wear a sports bra and select the socks you’re used to. Also, don’t experiment with a new pair of running shoes at an important marathon pace.
- You’re Likely to Get Injured
Unfortunately, building a running career without at least a minor injury at some point is the exception rather than the rule. Even if you’re not a professional marathon runner, you’re not immune to (at least) losing a toenail.
Your main task is to do everything possible to prevent getting hurt during your long distance running training: choose the right outfit, shoes, and equipment, control your running technique, wear bandages, and apply cream if required.
- Keep Hydrated
A runner needs to drink every 20 minutes or so if the race takes longer than 30 minutes, as the thirst is the first sign of dehydration, which slows down body organs and systems functioning – eventually, your marathon result is likely to worsen.
Besides repetitive drinking, you can also shower your legs and head (only if you wear a hat) to lower the body temperature and allow the skin to breathe.
- Nutrition Golden Rules
Still wondering how to run long distance? Without a proper system of nutrition, it’s just impossible!
Before your workout your main task is to stick to a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein and avoid fat and fibre, which increase the risk of stomach issues.
If you run more than an hour, it’s essential to fuel during the race. Gels are the most popular today as they’re compact and comfortable to use, however, they don’t work for everyone. If such innovations are not your cup of tea, opt for good old snacks like fruits and sweets.
Don’t forget about the right nutrition after your run (especially, during the recovery window) to help the body to adapt and increase strength.
- Breathing Technique
The right breathing technique will prevent you from that painful feeling in the side under the ribs and improve your general condition. Breathe both through your nose and mouth, don’t try to adjust breathing speed to the steps, stick to a calm, moderate rhythm.
- Going to the Loo Is OK
Nobody can predict or prevent this physiological need, so if a sudden urge to use the bathroom happens – don’t worry and just do it. Why do you think they set those portable toilets along the way? A potty break is not so uncommon, indeed.
- Motivate Yourself with What Works for You
Becoming a stronger personality is another benefit of long distance running. To cope with that challenge you’ll have to argue with yourself and work with your mind a lot.
Figure out what motivates you most and make the rules for yourself. For example, you can find a program that’s manageable for you and fits your lifestyle and follow it; break a long run into sections (15 km = 3 x 5 km), which are easier to accomplish; visualize the finish line and the way you cross it, imagine the scene as bright as possible: listen to the crowd cheering and smile to photographers.
In other words, go with whatever motivation works best personally for you.
- Take a Walk Break if You Need
Walking is not cheating, my friend! It’s ok to take a short break for a walk during a long run to recover, get hydrated and nourished if needed. By the way, a run-walk approach is a good way to safely improve your endurance and build fitness.
- Start Slow
Don’t pay attention to the runners who speed up at the very beginning of the race: if they’re not well-trained athletes that clearly know their speed for every kilometre of the marathon, they won’t make more than 15 kilometres.
Your perfect strategy is to run at a leisurely slow pace, gradually speeding up. The fastest pace should be left for the last 1-2 kilometres before the finish line.
- Tag along Someone
This is a trick for those who get motivated through competition. Find an athlete whose speed and results are a bit better than yours and try to keep up with this runner during the whole race. This is an awesome advice for long distance running training when you’re not a professional runner but an amateur starving to improve your skills.
Still not sure that you can do it? Just start.