Our best long distance running tips
Proper form is just as important for running long distances as it is for sprinters.
Poor form can cost a sprinter vital seconds needed for the win, but sloppy long distance running will tire you out much quicker because you force your body to expend more energy than necessary.
Tense shoulders and poorly paced strides can even lead to serious injuries.
Here are a few tips on how to tackle the distance.
The main difference between short distance running and long stretches is the way your legs move you forward.
Sprinters pound down hard with quick short steps, forcing their calves to absorb most of the impact. In short races, there isn't any risk of injury by running this way.
Long distance running presents many different challenges. The point isn't to get to the finish line as quick as possible, but rather to stay in the race without causing long term damage to your body.
The number of times your feet hit the pavement is far greater than that of a sprinter. You can't afford to pound down with such speed and force.
You should open up your strides so that each step feels more like a glide than a burst. This allows your calves to work with your quads, absorbing the impact together.
Never run cold. Always warm up your muscles before your daily run or you could end up with a serious injury. Light jogging, walking and skipping are great ways to get your muscles ready. Body building exercises are also an important part of preparing for long distance running.
As you know, your legs and feet will be doing much of the work. The stronger they are, the easier it will be for you to run long distances. But, body building also builds other muscles you will need such as those in your arms and back. Squats strengthen your quads and deep lunges help your calves stay flexible and able to absorb the impact of running.
Fast paced aerobics help strengthen your heart and lungs, which are vital for endurance. They can also improve your posture. Poor posture during a long distance run will tire you out quicker and increase your risk of injury.
Your body needs plenty of nourishment. During a long distance race, there will probably be stands placed at certain intervals where you can grab a drink or protein bar, but when you are training, this might not be the case.
Since you don't want to run with a backpack full of nutrition bars and bottles of water, you will have to find a way to plan your route so that you can stop for a drink and a snack about once per hour.
A good long distance running tip is: choose your snacks and drinks wisely. A chocolate bar, bag of chips and a pop is not a good idea. The sugar will give you a temporary rush, but this will wear off very quickly and you will feel worse than before.
Pure water and a protein snack will give you the energy you need, plus put extra nutrients into your body.
How long you need to train will depend on your overall health before you start.
Generally, people need at least two months of long distance training before the big race. Of course, if your goal is just to run long distances for your own pleasure, than the sooner you start, the better.
But, having a goal will help keep you motivated, and a big race is an excellent motivator.
The main thing is to start slowly. Start by walking a few hours a day if you have never run long distances before.
Gradually you will build up to a light jog, then a more vigorous jog and then you can start practicing your long running strides. Every runner will tell you to follow the "10 percent rule," which means to increase your training or mileage by 10 percent a week.
This rule should be followed for your body building and aerobic routines as well.
Incorporate yoga into your training regime. Yoga before your regular workouts will help to relax your mind and body, as well as warm up your muscles. Yoga exercises after your run will help pull you back down.
If you aren't a runner, this might sound silly, but it's true. Running or any vigorous workout really pumps up the adrenaline. You need to come down off this rush before tackling your regular life.
Just sitting will help, but yoga and meditation are much more fun, and leave you with a deeper sense of peace and relaxation.
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