Long-distance running requires A LOT of endurance! No one (other than Forrest Gump) wakes up one morning and decides, “I want to run 50 miles today”. It takes a lot of hard work, preparation, and training to get your body ready for a long distance run.
So where do you start? How can you train your body for long distance running? Here’s what you need to know:
To prepare for a long distance race, you have to run A LOT. Think months of running 20 to 30 miles per week. That may sound like a lot of mileage, but break it up into four to six days of running, and it’s not that many miles per day. The more you run, the more your body grows accustomed to the unique form of endurance training. No less than five miles per run! Increase your mileage by 10% on a weekly/monthly basis.
But you can’t just be content to jog/run a few miles every day. At least 3 or 4 times per month, push your body to its limits by going on a long run. Try to hit at least 10 to 15 miles. This will take hours, but that’s the only way to get ready for a long distance run. By pushing your body hard, you’ll increase your endurance and learn how your body handles the strain of running.
Of course, you won’t survive if you don’t rest. Your body needs to make repairs to your muscles, replenish lost electrolytes, and re-fuel with energy. It’s vital that you give your body time off, at least 24 hours! Make sure to sleep well at night in order to restore your body to 100% function for your next run.
How you eat is just as important as what you eat!
Pre-training meals — You should eat no less than 60 minutes before a run. Try to eat 200 to 300 calories’ worth of food, preferably with a mixture of carbs, fats, and protein to deliver all the nutrients your body needs for the run.
Post-training meals — You’ll need a good deal of protein to repair your muscles, so make sure your post-workout meals are protein-heavy. You don’t need too many carbs, but try to get more healthy fats in your diet after training.
The key to proper long distance running nutrition is balance. The main emphasis of your diet should be protein, but you do need to include enough carbs (both simple and complex) to produce energy for your run. Fat is a bit harder to digest, so it’s not the ideal pre-run food.
Yes, what you wear to run does matter.
You need the right pair of running shoes, though that is often easier said than done. Your shoes should add sufficient cushioning and impact reduction without weighing too much, and they should help to correct your stride and pronation. It’s worth investing time into finding the right pair for you.
Don’t forget the clothes: moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you cool and dry, items that aren’t too loose or too tight, and runner’s tape to prevent chafing.
Put all these things together, and you’re ready to get in shape for your long distance run!
Written by: Health and fitness expert Andy Peloquin