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How To Train For Long Distance Running (A Guide For Real People)

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There are many “long distance running how-to tutorials” out there. The million dollar question is, do these plans, ideas and pieces of advice transfer into advice for mere mortals like you and me? If you’re an average Joe runner and are looking for information on how to train for distance running, you sure can do it!

How Do Beginners Train For Long Distance Running

If you are new to distance running, the first thing to ask yourself is what type of physical condition you are presently in. If you are in decent cardiovascular shape and have been working out regularly, you are at a distinct advantage.

It is not to say that without that prior conditioning you should just give up. Absolutely not!! Just that if you have a cardio base, it is a little easier to get into the swing of running.

Assuming you are starting from the bottom up, the first thing you need to do is build a base. You can do that through jogging, brisk walking, cycling and/or swimming. Any type of aerobic activity helps you to start to build up that base that you need in order to begin running without finding yourself continually struggling to catch your breath.

So how do I train for long distance running? Here are some easy hints.

Easy Pointers

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Consider starting out run/walking. If you have never heard of the Galloway Method, look it up! Galloway made doing run and walk intervals, at regularly timed segments of time, a very famous and popular way to run!

Another important piece of advice is to advance slowly and methodically. For example, don’t just jump into running and try to knock out 20 miles in the first week! It is good practice to increase your mileage by 10-15% a week. If the first week you go 10 total miles, try 11 or 12 the following week.

You should also be careful how much you add on to your longest run for the week. If you run 3 miles as your longest run in a week, don’t try to pop out a six miler as a beginner.

You also need to be careful not to start out too fast. Many newbie runners take off way too fast in the beginning and then find themselves breathless and exhausted. You are much better off going at an easy, steady pace than taking off like a lunatic and feeling defeated a half a mile in.

Recovery is very important for all athletes. Yes, even though you are a beginner you are an athlete. Make sure you work rest and non-impact days into your new workout regiment.

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Your body also needs adequate fuel in order to keep your body moving like the well-oiled machine that it is. Put good food into your body and reap the benefits. Don’t fuel your body with crap!

Although many athletes do not do this, I am a firm believer in varying your running surface. This means mixing up what type of surface you are running on. I might run on asphalt a few days, treadmill a day and a soft trail the final day of the week. Mixing it up helps keep your feet and legs feeling fresher.

Another thing you should do is consider having more than one pair of shoes. If you are new to running and unsure if you like it, that may seem silly. However, once you get into it you will find rotating between a couple of pairs of shoes is nice. Giving your shoes a day off between runs helps the cushion to bounce back.

What Training Method Would A Long Distance Runner Use?

As you choose a training plan, we have to ask ourselves what is your idea of long distance. There are many, many plans out there. Some people who are training for a 5K choose to start out with the famous Couch to 5K that literally takes you from sitting to walking to running.

If you are looking to run something a little longer than that, there are more options out there. Hal Higdon is another big name in distance running. He has plans for half and full marathons. His plans include those for novice runners, intermediates and those with a lot of experience.

You can go on Training Peaks to find sample workouts if you are looking for something new. Running magazines also include great running plans. A plan for a half marathon could span anywhere from ten to sixteen weeks. A marathon plan is often stretched out a little longer than that.

How Do I Get Better At Long Distance Running?

If you’re looking to get better at long distance running, there are a few things you can do. Once you have built up your base there are some things you can do to hone in on your craft.

First, you can incorporate speed work into your regiment. This can include track work or fartleks. Another thing you can do is hill work. Running up hills and doing repeats is an excellent way to build strength.

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Strength training helps make a stronger runner. Although many of us neglect it, regular time in the weight room builds more than muscles. You can lift low weights in high repetitions to help tone your runner’s physique.

When working on strength, the core is extremely important. Honestly, if you added nothing to your running except 10-15 minutes of core 3-4 times a week, you would see improvements.

How Can I Run Longer Without Getting Tired?

If you’re looking to run longer without getting fatigued, the secret is slowing your roll. Taking it nice and easy is the way to keep yourself able to run longer.

Even though that sounds super easy, it is not always so. Try keeping your heart rate nice and low. If you have someone to join you, keep yourselves at a nice, easy, conversational pace. If you can easily talk through the entire run, you will probably find you can go longer and further than you have prior.

Just Jump In

As you’re contemplating getting started, the best advice I have is to just jump right in. Don’t overthink it. Get yourself a decent pair of shoes, grab your headphones and hit the open road. Every one of us is capable of 10 minutes out and then turning around and coming back.

You might not run the whole thing, and that is okay! Whether you plan run/walk intervals ahead of time or decide to just walk when you need a break, just head out there and make it happen.

You won’t regret it!

Join our private, growing community of passionate runners

Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.