Training Tips for Long Distance Running

By Laura Cummings

When you have a long distance race ahead of you, it is important to consider a training schedule. Online, you can find an array of schedules and people telling you the best way to train. However, I have found that training is different for everyone, and I have never followed anyone else’s training plan.

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A lesson I learnt very quickly is to pace yourself! I used to try and run distances that were far too long too quickly and suffered from that, not only from injury but lack of motivation – I wasn’t enjoying those runs, so I stopped wanting to do them! However, starting far enough in advance that you can gradually increase the distances is key. I also never have set days to run; some days you just won’t feel like running!

"I succeed on my own personal motivation, dedication and commitment.
My mindset is: If I'm not out there training, someone else is."
– Lynn Jennings (Long-distance runner)

So I have a goal in my head as to what distance I want to run in that week, and when a day hits that I feel motivated to go, I run. This is also helps when mentally preparing yourself, as I’m not putting pressure on a specific day and feeling like I have failed if I don’t manage it. Keeping this kind of personal pressure at bay, I have found, is really critical to successful training.

A common debate is whether it is beneficial to alternate your running technique. I have always found that when training for a half marathon distance, I need to run a consistent pace for the duration when training. I know people like to do a fartlek training run, i.e. short, fast intervals followed by slower recovery intervals. Again, every runner is different and different styles will suit certain people, but not others.

It is also important to find out what time of day suits you best. My team runs are always on Tuesday evenings, and I actually find that I really don’t like running in the evening! I think it’s due to trying to manage what food you have eaten in the day. However, morning runs are no problem! I love them! I would much rather lose my Sunday lie-in and wake up early to run.

My biggest downfall in training has always been eating. Knowing what to eat, how much to eat, and carb loading before race day. I have always struggled with this – finding that I struggle to eat enough calories to make up for what I’m burning! This was a tough lesson to learn, as it often meant I was very sick after even a 10k run.

Since, I have changed my way of eating, and as a result I find running a lot easier, the diet has made a huge difference to my training and race day success! Plus it’s always a bonus to not feel guilty about carb loading or a post-race pizza feast!

Originally published 09/10/17

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