How to run further
Ten tips to help you run further
Whether you are training for your first 10km or just looking to add a few extra miles onto your favourite running route, the tips below may help you on your way to meeting your distance running goals. For the more serious ultra or marathon runner, the following tips should be used in conjunction with a recommended running training schedule that builds up your stamina and distance over a period of several months. Such training schedules can be found on the Runners World website or at any UK athletics certified running club.
Running Further Tip 1. – Slow it down!
One of the most common mistakes that almost every runner has been guilty of at some point or another is starting off on your run too fast only to find that three quarters of the way through your run you begin to flag and burn out; leading to a disappointed self and an inefficient training session.
If you want to add distance to your run and feel like you have reached a point where you just cannot add any more distance at your regular pace, then it is time to slow things down. Try dropping your pace by 30-60seconds a mile (for example a 7minute mile pace would become a 7.30 minute mile pace) or until you feel like you are running at a comfortable and easy pace. This should allow you to run further than your previous pace as this should turn down the intensity of the session so that your body doesn’t fatigue as quickly You should try and alternate this ‘easy’ run with your regular paced runs as combining the two into a regular routine will train your body to run at both a faster pace and for longer distances.
Running Further Tip 2 – Keep an even pace
This is something that is much harder to do in practice than in theory but should be something you should be striving to do as much as far as your running route dictates. Running at an even pace means that you aren’t wasting energy on sprints or interval runs and will give you the best fighting chance of running additional distance on top of your usual run.
Keeping track of your pace can be as high or low tech as you like and you don’t need to spend a small fortune on the latest running watch to measure how fast you are running. If you have a well established route that you regularly run then you can mark out mile markers along the route using something as simple as Google Maps or mapmyrun.com. Now you can use any old watch to time how
long it takes you to run between these markers allowing you to adjust your pace accordingly. There are lots of different bits of kit available on the market that can make recording and identifying your pace easier and simpler. The Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch has quickly become the industry leader in GPS sports watches in the two years it has been available. It uses GPS to give you live data concerning your live pace and average pace amongst lots of other useful training data. Prices start around £180 ($300) and can be found at Amazon.co.uk
Running Further Tip 3 – Diet
The food you eat will have a direct impact on the quality of your training, especially at long distances. Whilst most people can run 10km without really worrying too much about their diet, the moment you start to increase your mileage food really does matter! Eating the wrong sorts of food will result in lethargic feeling of no energy which can quickly lead to premature fatigue on your runs.
A food group called complex carbohydrates is where the key to long distance running lies. Complex carbohydrates take the body longer to digest which results in a slow flow of energy that provides the raw materials that you need for long distance running. On the flip side, sugary foods only provide short term energy that is quick to be metabolised and once used up can leave you feeling drained and tired –something called ‘crashing.’
You should be eating complex carbohydrates such as past, wholegrain bread, wholegrain cereals and root vegetables 1-2 hours before your long runs as this will give your body the energy it needs to fuel your running. If you start feeling overly tired or fatigued in the later stages of your run then note how long into the run you started feeling tired and on your next run, 20minutes before that time eat something like a bag of raisins, chocolate bar or energy gel. They are small enough to carry with you and the sugars they provide may just be enough to get you through those last few miles of your run.
Running Further Tip 4 – Hydration
Sounds simple but nothing spells disaster like inadequate hydration. Make sure you are taking on board water at regular intervals on your long distance runs to avoid feeling dizzy and dehydrated, especially during long distance runs in high temperatures.
If you don’t like running with a water bottle, or your water bottle just doesn’t give you enough capacity then you might want to invest in something called a CamelBak, which
essentially is a water bladder built into a lightweight rucksack that has a tube that clips to your shoulder strap from which you can draw water.
For more information on CamelBaks see the following article: Camelbak Hydration Systems for Long Distance Running
Running Further Tip 5 – New Routes
If you are really struggling to add distance to your long distance runs then you could benefit from a change of route. Running the same old route means that you get to know where you think you should be feeling tired along your route instead of listening to your body. Getting out and exploring a new route not only breaks up the monotony of long distance runs but also gives you a fresh start as you don’t know how tough you are going to find it. You might just surprise yourself and find those last few miles a lot easier than you thought
Running Further Tip 6 – Run with a running club or running partner
If it is really becoming a struggle to get out of the door on those ling run days then it could be time to join a club or recruit a running partner. Joining a cub means that you are never going to be short of support and training advice when you need it most and unlike the popular belief, most clubs aren’t full of running pro athletes, but normal people who have joined for exactly the same reason as yourself.
Joining a club means that you will never lose motivation whilst out on those long runs and if you are competitive like me, the thought of being the last runner back at the club house is all that I need to quicken my pace and finish those ling runs with the group.
Running Further Tip 7 – Clear up any past injuries
Before you start adding mileage to your runs, now is the time to consult a doctor about any old injuries you may have that could impact upon your training. The last thing that you want of to be two weeks from your marathon goal distance only to have an old tendon injury flare up again. It is best to wait a few more weeks and get a solid medical opinion before embarking upon any long term running training plan.
Running Further Tip 8 –Prevent new injuries
Now that you have all your old injuries taken care of, it is time to prevent any new ones from springing up and spoiling your long term training plans.
When you are adding distance to your runs and training to run further, it is important not to add too much distance to your weekly mileage at once. If you do this then you run the risk of picking up overuse injuries like tendinitis or a stress fracture which is the last thing you want.
To minimise this risk of overuse injuries, only add a maximum of 10% to your total combined mileage per week and every fourth week, cut back your mileage by 30% for one week before progressing on the previous weeks mileage again. This allows your body to adapt to running at longer distances and the week break allows it to repair any small niggles that could develop into overuse injuries if not kept in check.
After a few months you will probably be unable to add 10% onto your weekly mileage as the distances will become too great, but at the beginning of your training plan this is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Running Further Tip 9 – Small Steps
When you are first starting upon your training plan to build mileage and run further, your end goal, whether it be a half marathon or an ultra, may seem like a long way off. You should try and avoid falling into the trap of doing too much at once and trying to add as much distance onto your runs as possible in the first few weeks as this spells danger for your running in the long term. As mentioned in the last tip, adding too much mileage in the first few weeks can greatly increase your chances of contracting an overuse injury such as a stress fracture or tendinitis which can put your training plans back months. Instead you should aim to make small improvements over the period of several months until you have seen how your body adapts to running at longer distances and not aim to accomplish too much in the first weeks of training.
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