How To Plan For Long Distance Running

Written by on November 19, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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Today I’d like to talk about how to prepare for distance running. (This is about what I consider to be a run of five miles or thereabouts).

For a half marathon you’ll be looking at up to eight miles or so. For a full marathon you’ll be looking at up to maybe 20-22 miles. So I’m going to give you some advice so as to stay injury-free and keep you feeling good form start to finish.

First step – the whole point of the long run is simply to get it done. Doesn’t matter if you do it fast. Doesn’t matter if you do it slow. Just as long as you finish it. The whole point of the long run is to get you used to moving for that kind of distance. For the long run just take it slow and have fun. You should be able to carry on a conservation for the whole length.

Get Your Planning Right

I myself I highly recommend a plan involving running than walking. So in the case of a 6 mile run I plan for half an hour and then I run for three miles followed by a few minutes of walking. That sounds a lot more doable then otherwise. In the case of 10 miles – run three walk four run three. Break it up into bits that are far more manageable. Now some people like to map out their run with water bottles. Just drop them off at the three mile marks or have a loop you keep coming back to… this way you know how much further you have to go and how soon you can just walk for a while.

Stay Hydrated

An important thing is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You can carry water on you. I use an Ambipak which just straps on my hand real easy. It stays on and you barely even know it’s there as you run. If I don’t have that I can put the water out there. What I do is I map out my run, and the way you can do it is mapmyrun.com. If you’re trying out new runs, maybe you want to try running across town you can just go there and have the map it out absolutely free. And as they map it out they’ll say every run. Therefore before your run you can drive out to the three mile mark and place your water. You know at the three mile mark you’ve got your water behind the tree and you can go get it. And walk for a five minutes.

You should also think about an electrolyte replacement drink; because as you run you’re losing potassium, magnesium, and sodium and these are things you’ll need through your run. Find a flavor you like or whatever, but just have some sort of replacement with you. Find something that works for you and stick with it. Whatever routine or drink that works for you just keep at it, and know that changing up say the drink you’re used to can cause cramps. So if your training for a race and the drink of choice is something you’re not used to – you can train up to that.

The thing is you’ve got to hydrate. Don’t just go out there and run 6 miles. Don’t go run 8 miles; because you’re going to hurt yourself. The third tip and most important is to not keep training up. So do two weeks up and the third week back. Week one you might run 6, week two you could do 7, but week 3 you shouldn’t do more than 4-5. It’s not going to hurt your training to dial back, and you’ll be just fine come race day. Week 4 when you go to 8 will be just as smooth as before. But adding on these miles too quick will lead to injury which is the whole part of doing this.

Buy a pair of specialist running shoes

A proper pair of running shoes is a very wise choice if you are series about your new hobby. Some are expensive, sure, but they should be viewed as a long term investment and are considered essential equipment in my book.

So these are your tips for racing if you’re a newbie. Take your time, have a plan, have water nearby, know what you’re doing, two weeks up and one week back.

Attached Images:

This is a guest post.  Simon has been running marathons since aged 18 and lives and breaths long distance running. 

Image Credit: Marcos Vasconcelos Photography (Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0)

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