Running is one of the most efficient and accessible ways to train the aerobic system, and a growing number of athletes have incorporated some sort of running into their programme since the coronavirus lockdowns.
Setting out on long runs can be daunting but also extremely rewarding, and using them to boost cardiovascular fitness can benefit performance in multiple sports.
If you’re interested in tackling longer distances, here are six tips to help you do it.
Learn How To Pace
The most common mistake in running is to go out too hard. If your goal is to tackle a new distance then the speed really doesn’t matter, so make sure you take the first couple of miles extra easy and build into the run if you feel good. The heart can still get stronger even when you’re only operating at 65% of your maximum heart rate, which is an intensity you can still have a comfortable conversation at.
Run The Mile You’re In
The mental side of running is one of the most important components. It can be daunting when you’re starting out on a long run, especially if it’s in preparation for something like a marathon and you could be on your feet for a few hours. A good trick is to break the distance up, and one common method that elite runners use is to only focus on running the mile they’re in and forget about the rest of the distance.
If you’re trying to run for a long time then hydration can impact the body’s performance. If it’s not a particularly hot day and you’re running for less than about two hours then don’t worry about taking on fluids during the run, but ensuring your body is properly hydrated beforehand by sipping water or an electrolyte drink for an hour or so could limit your discomfort in the last few miles.
Build Up Gradually
The easiest way to increase the distance you can handle is to do it slowly. Try adding a mile or even just five minutes a week to your run, and pretty soon you’ll have adjusted your body to tackling considerably bigger runs.
While you don’t necessarily want to run robotically or unnaturally, an efficient technique goes a long way. Key points to focus on are running with a relaxed upper body and trying to avoid landing on your heel.
Run With Other People
Covering long distances is a challenging and gruelling task. Using a friend or training partner to run alongside you makes a big difference. With some company, you can zone out and have a chat while you clock off the miles.