Tricks to Run Longer Distances

Tricks to Run Longer Distances

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Running on soft surfaces reduces the risk of injury.

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It takes consistent training and tremendous determination to be a fit distance runner. Staying injury-free in a sport that's as intense as long-distance running is a big factor in being able to run far. Even how you eat can affect whether you're able to finish a long run or race. If you enjoy the sport, you'll have an easier time increasing your stamina enough to handle running long distances.

Improving Aerobic Fitness and Strength

To improve your aerobic fitness to run long distances, you need to increase your lactate threshold, how much oxygen you take in while exercising and how efficiently your body uses that oxygen. In addition to simply getting out the door for runs, the best way to improve all three factors is to incorporate speed work and threshold or tempo runs into your schedule once or twice a week, and then do strength-training exercises such as lifting weights or plyometrics two or three times a week. The more you can improve your aerobic fitness and overall strength, the easier it will be for you to manage running long distances.

Carbohydrate Loading

When you exercise for extended periods, your body needs fuel, and consuming carbohydrates is the best way to get energy quickly. Using gels or sports drinks during your long run will help you feel less fatigued by providing your body with glucose. Glucose is used by all cells in your body including your brain cells. On a long run, your brain needs to keep functioning optimally in order to send signals to your muscles to keep firing. Not eating enough before or during your long runs can lead to "bonking," a term used to describe feeling weak, spaced out and tired. A pre-run meal should consist of easily digested foods such as oatmeal, toast with a small amount of peanut butter and jelly, fruit, yogurt or a power bar. During your run, eat one gel or about 25 grams of carbohydrates with water every 30 to 50 minutes of running.

Run Training

Running long distances, no matter how you look at it, is challenging. How you train can make a difference in how well you manage your long runs. To avoid injury, build up your mileage slowly by adding about 10 percent of your total mileage each week. Aim to run at least three times a week and, over time, increase that to five or six days. If you find that you get injured easily or struggle to complete longer runs, try cross-training or splitting your long run into two shorter runs during the day, one in the morning and one in the evening. A running coach or running group can help keep you motivated and training sensibly. A training partner or running group also helps pass the time on long runs.

The Long Run

Start your long run slowly. The first 20 minutes should be done at a pace that's approximately 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Make sure you are rested by taking a few days of easy running before your long run, and make sure you get enough sleep the night before. During your training run, the pace should be comfortable. A very rough estimate is to sustain a pace that's 75 to 90 seconds slower per mile than your 10k pace. You should not be so out of breath that you can't talk. Take short walking breaks of one to two minutes during your weekly long run if you are struggling to to get through it.To make your workouts easier on your joints, seek out soft surfaces as much as possible.