Long Distance Running Tips - Four Tips You Need to Go the Distance

distance running tips
So, you have come here for a few long distance running tips.

You may have picked up running recently, but you are just not quite sure how to go about this "running thing". That's ok. I have got you covered through this page and this website.

Sit back, relax and have a read.

So, how did you get into running. Maybe you want to get fitter. Maybe you want to lose some weight. Maybe you want to improve your mental health. Or maybe it is the sense of fulfilment of working towards a goal and achieving it.

Whichever it may be, you are lucky. Running delivers all of this and more.

The calming, meditative effects make running just as much about your mind and soul as it is about your body.

Now, let's get straight into it with some distance running tips.

Distance Running Tip #1: Start Slow

distance running tips
Planning to run long distances? Then what you need to focus on first is your pace. Slow it down. You cannot simply increase your speed, or run at too high speed for too long.

Instead, run slowly at first. Build up your distance. Speed will come later. Increasing the distance you are covering will increase your endurance. Any race that is longer than 800m long relies predominantly on your endurance to succeed.

It's remarkable isn't it?

Let me share something else with you. Elite middle distance runners. People who run the mile upto about 5k. They run their races ultra-fast. A world class 5k is done within 15 minutes. But they cover an incredible amount of mileage. They do long runs of 10-20 miles regularly. And a lot of that mileage is done slower than race pace. About 80-90% of their running is slower. Because they know that endurance is the most important when it comes to long distance running.

Even myself, a simple, non-elite but quite fanatical runner do that weekly slow long run of about 10-20 miles. Regardless of whether I am training for a 5k, 10k or half marathon.

Why? Well, it helps my body get used to that distance. It helps increase my endurance. When I can successfully cover the distance (and more), I can then use my increased stamina to run that distance faster.

if you see me collapse...

When you are a beginning runner, chances are that you are going too fast. In fact it is the number one mistake I see beginning runners make. In fact, it is a mistake made so often that I don't even know what the number two mistake is... :)

You have to keep in mind that long distance running is a totally different thing. Distance first, speed comes second!

Also see the following pages for more explanations about why slow / easy running is so good for you:

Base Running - page that explains why you need a strong foundation of easy running.

Running for Fitness - page that explores the differences between short-term gains and long-term gains and the differences between achieving short-term fitness and long-term health.

There is a place for faster running in your training as well. But first create a solid base, then work on the speed, not the other way around.

Distance Running Tip #2: Increase Your Mileage Safely

distance running tips
So, when you want to run long distance, you need to slow down and build up your mileage.

You can't go from running 2 miles to running 20 miles in one week.
That's pretty straightforward.

You need some kind of gradual build up. But how do you do that?
There are some rules of thumb. The 10% rule is a popular one.

It states that you can't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. E.g. run 10 miles this week, then you can run 11 miles next week (10% increase).

The rule is a bit too general for my liking.
Get used to listening more to what your body is telling you. This means that sometimes you have to stay at a certain level and sometimes you'll be able to push on by more than 10%.

The key is to listen to your body and react to aches and pains. See more about this on the increasing mileage safely page.

Distance Running Tip #3: Get Enough Rest, Take Breaks and Recover

distance running tips
Get enough rest and
reap the benefits
Now that we have gotten here, I now know what that second mistake is that can happen to beginning runners. It is not appreciating the importance of the hard/easy principle. After a hard day, do an easy day.

A hard day of running actually makes you temporarily weaker. It damages your muscles (a little). It puts your body under stress. Your body's reaction to that stress is to make itself a little stronger. So, that it is better prepared the next time you want to test it out! And it's only when you recover that your muscles become that little bit stronger.

What is a hard day?
It depends a lot on your running background. What might be a hard day now, can be an easy day in the future. But let's try to give you some general rules for what a hard day constitutes:

  • A long run - When you are building up your running, you are exploring new limits all the time. First you run 30 minutes non-stop, then 40, then 50, etc. Every time you run far, close to your maximum ability - that is a hard day.

  • distance running tips
    Take a holistic approach
    to your running and fitness.
  • A workout - When you run faster, e.g. when you do a tempo or interval session or other tough, faster session, that is a hard day

  • When you feel yesterday was a hard day - Sometimes a hard day hits you in hindsight. The next day everything hurts, or you feel very lethargic, you feel like something is off.

  • What is an easy day?
    Now, what is an easy day? It can be anything.

    It could be complete rest, it could be some cross-training or even an easy recovery run, short and slow.

    The idea of the easy day is to give the running muscles a decent break.

    So, it does not have to be complete rest.

    Distance Running Tip #4: Hydrate and Eat Well

    Now, doing all the running required to become fitter and faster is great.

    But you need to make sure other elements of your life are in sync with this.
    This means eating and drinking healthily.

    And getting enough rest via sleep and recovery.

    Check out more about healthy eating on the runner's diet page.

    About eating and drinking during running.....

    distance running tips
    Water is vital to efficient running. It is important that you are well hydrated during long distance running.

    Even if you don't feel thirsty during your run, get used to drinking a few mouthfuls every 20 minutes on your long runs, especially when your long runs go well over 60 minutes or when it is very hot outside.
    Running for 90-120 minutes or more? Then you need to bring a beverage that contains electrolytes to keep your body well hydrated or some energy gels.

    My key rule for my long runs is that when I go over 90 minutes I eat and drink during my run. There is more and more data and research available that demonstrates that not eating and drinking during runs of that distance is just not helpful.

    An energy gel or energy chew can provide you with some quick burning carbs, that can quickly get converted to energy to fuel your run and immediate recovery after the run.

    After your running it is always good to replenish with some water and a snack including some protein (to rebuild muscles) and carbs or healthy fats (to provide energy) and help stimulate recovery.

    Maybe the single largest benefit of long distance running is guilt-free snacking afterwards...!

    These distance running tips are just the top of the iceberg.
    There are plenty more tips to improve.

    Depending on what you are after or what your starting level is you may want to have a look at the following pages:

    BRT Newsletter

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