With a little bit of research, and a whole lot of trial and error, I finally found a way to “succeed” at running. And most importantly, I found a way to actually ENJOY it! Therefore, I put together 7 long distance running tips that helped me to my first half marathon!
Keep reading for 7 long distance running tips
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Long Distance Running Tips For Beginners
I used to think people were either good runners, or not. I lumped myself in the latter group. Even at a young age, I hated running. As I got older I tried running thing again, but never could stick with it. I began to think running just wasn’t for me. But, several years after my first attempt at distance running, I decided to give it one more try and train for a half marathon. It was mid-way through studying for my personal trainer exam. I started trying different running techniques and changed my approach. The more I read about running, and the more tricks I picked up, the more I was intrigued. For once, I was determined to stick with it.
I want to share with you the changes I made to my running program. These tips to run longer helped me reach my goal, and I hope they help you reach yours too.
1. Slow down
Most people, myself included, have a tendency to begin our runs at a much faster pace than we can sustain long term. When training for distance runs, it is absolutely essential to pace yourself and start slow. ESPECIALLY if you are new to running or trying to increase mileage.
If during your run you feel your breathing increase to a rate at which you can no longer speak more than a few consecutive words – you are running at a speed you will be unable to sustain for a long period of time.
If you are running for distance, an increased rate of breathing (or taking shorter breaths, gasping for air) is a sign you are starting to run too fast. Try to be mindful of your breathing, and slow your pace when you feel yourself start to breathe at a rapid rate.
How I slow down: Self-administer the “talk test” as you run. Especially in the beginning.
One of the most important long distance running tips and tools to use “talk test”. The best part about this test? It’s very simple, you don’t need any equipment, and you can administer it at any time.
While running, speak a sentence out loud. If you can talk at a somewhat comfortable level while running, you are at a speed you can sustain for a longer period of time. Stay at this pace, and resist the temptation to increase speed!
You may also want to consider investing in a fitness watch to help you keep a reasonable pace. I use my FitBit Versa 2 as I run to help control my pace. I usually stay at the 11 to 12 minute mile pace for my long runs, and around a 9 to 10 minute mile pace for my maintenance runs. My watch keeps me honest and helps me stay at a steady, consistent pace.
2. Take deep breaths. Long Distance Running Tips
Your muscles need oxygen, as oxygen helps provide the fuel you need while running. The more oxygen you breathe, the more oxygen you deliver to your muscles. Therefore, it is essential that you run at a pace that allows you to take full and deep breaths. Deep breathing is one of best long distance running tips to build long run times and stamina.
How I make sure I am taking deep breaths: Feel your stomach rise and fall as you run.
One way to tell whether or not your are taking deep breaths is to put your hand on your stomach while you run. If you are taking deep breaths, you should feel your stomach rise and fall. This rising and falling should happen throughout the duration of your run to ensure you are delivering enough oxygen to your body. Make sure your stomach is rising and not your chest. Stomach breathing is deeper than breathing with your chest.
3. Run by feeling, not mileage
When I was training for my first half marathon, I started out running for mileage. I would set goals to run for 3 miles my first week, 4 miles my second week, 5 miles my third week, and so on. This was daunting, and psychologically I realized I was only focused on distance. I wasn’t listening to what my body was telling me.
So, I decided to adapt my running plan, listen to my body, and focus on time instead of mileage. Instead of adding 1 mile to my long run each week, I added 10 minutes. I found this one of the best long distance running tips I adopted.
As the weeks went on I was consistently adding time and showing consistent improvement while also allowing myself to listen to my body. This approach enabled me to run at a speed that worked for me that particular day.
How I run by feeling: To increase run duration or distance, don’t be afraid to take breaks.
Your body is smart. It gives you queues – so make sure to listen to them. If you’re aiming for a 30 minute run, but feel like you can’t go any further after 10 minutes, make small adaptations. Instead of cutting your run short, take two minutes to walk. Or try slowing your pace and jogging for 3 minutes before picking the pace back up. This enables you to adapt your workout on the spot and ensures you’re progressing toward your goals. During these added recovery periods your body is still moving, working, burning calories, and getting stronger.
4. Run in the moment. Long Distance Running Tips
Have you noticed yourself fixating on the time or mileage you still have left as you run? It’s an easy habit to fall into. You start obsessing over the clock and watch the seconds tick by. Or you watch the mileage increase by hundredths of a mile.
Monitoring your run second by second only makes your run feel longer and harder than it really is. Not obsessing is one of the best tips to run longer out there. Psychologically, this brings about anxiety (which unnecessarily increases your breathing) and makes the time drag by. If you’re already struggling to run further or for longer durations, this is the last thing you need.
How I run in the moment: Long distance running tips
Try looking at your watch as infrequently as possible. Or if you are on a treadmill, try covering the distance and timer with a towel. Take your focus off the time and distance. Instead, try focusing on the scenery around you or the song you are listening to.
If you can’t stand it and feel like you just HAVE to look at the clock, set mini goals for yourself throughout your run. For example, try listening to two full songs before looking at the time.
5. Ease Into a Running Program
The biggest downfall of new or less experienced distance runners is starting off too fast. Many people set fake rules for themselves. Such as… I can’t take walking breaks during my run. Or… I must set the treadmill to a 6.0 speed every time I run. These are artificial rules we make up in our heads. They don’t actually exist.
If running at a 6.0 speed is too fast for you and you are constantly gasping for air, your run won’t be enjoyable. If you start off with too much intensity and don’t allow yourself walking breaks, you may not make the distance goals you set for yourself.
In order to stick to a running program, it has to be at least somewhat enjoyable. Pushing yourself too hard too fast will leave you feeling defeated and exhausted after every run. These negative feelings are less than encouraging. It makes it even more difficult to push through life’s distractions to motivate yourself to work out.
How I ease into my workout program: Long distance running tips
One of the most important long distance running tips is this. Ease into things. Go for your first run at a speed and intensity that is comfortable for you and a speed you know you can sustain. Then, slowly ramp up. Try adding 1-2 minutes to your run each day. Or, set a goal to run an extra half mile every other week for your long run. This will help you keep a positive association with running and help you stick with the program long-term.
Remember, it takes 3-5 minutes to reach a steady state.
Looking at your watch or the timer on the treadmill can be very discouraging. Especially at the beginning of your run. Many of us will look at the clock after only a couple minutes and think… I am already tired… how am I ever going to finish?! That is no way to start your run.
Why do you feel this way after only a few minutes of running?
Because it takes 3-5 minutes to reach a steady state. Therefore, you may feel extra tired in the first few minutes. But if you continue running at a comfortable speed, you will likely feel a “second wind” come on. Knowing this will help you stay positive throughout the entirety of your run, and not psych yourself out at the beginning.
Keep reading for more tips to run longer
6. Create your own definition of “winning”
“Winning” means different things to different people. Winning could mean creating a four week running program for yourself (or with your personal trainer) and successfully completing all four weeks. Or, maybe you set a goal to run 3 consecutive miles without walking. A distance you have never run before. That would be a huge win!
How I define winning: Long distance running tips
If you’re training to run a race – 5K, 10K, half, full – Rather than focusing on winning first place or beating your friends across the finish line, consider setting a goal that is within your control. Go for a personal best time, or try to run a new record distance before walking.
No matter how you choose to define “winning” remember to acknowledge and celebrate your great accomplishments along the way!
7. Focus on YOU
You are your own unique person. And because of that, your running program needs to be unique to you. Resist the urge to copy your best friends running program, set your treadmill to the same speed as the person next to you, or set your mileage goal to what you think it “should” be.
Instead, use the tips above to create a plan that is unique to YOU. Try to focus attention away from the noise around you, and focus on the pace and schedule that is best for you. Something you can stick with.
Long Distance Running Tips Wrap Up
We hope you found these tips to run longer helpful! As you begin training, be patient. Increasing distance and improving cardiovascular endurance requires your body to adapt to the increased physical demand. This takes time. Need an extra push or a personalized training plan? Check out these additional running resources!
About the Author
Brittany is the owner of Total Fit Club and ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Brittany also has a Master of Science in Health Management and is a NASM Youth Exercise Specialist. Find out more at www.totalfitclub.com
About Breaking Zen
Breaking Zen is a self care blog dedicated the very best self care resources and what we find helpful. We focus on health, wellness, and stress reduction – giving you your daily dose of Zen. Check out our latest posts and videos to help guide you through your self care journey!
This article is NOT meant to be taken as medical advice of any kind; however, it can form the basis of your initial discussion about your concerns. Consult with your doctor about any health concerns you have.
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