The 411 on Long Running: 8 Tips You Need to Know

If you’re going to take part in any long distance races, you need to prepare for it. You can’t just simply go in and run as there are certain things you have to focus on to compete in the race. While anyone can participate in long distance running event, only a few are able to finish, let alone win the race. That’s where preparation and tips for long running comes in.

How Should I Train?

The most efficient method is to have your training mimic the event you are going to participate in. So if you’re going to join a 10k and go 6 minutes per mile, your preparation needs to be at the same pace. Your training environment also has to be as close to the actual race settings as possible.

But don’t mimic the race in its entirety because that will necessitate a longer recovery time. To prevent this you should keep the race simulation to a shorter distance than the actual race.

How Much Do I Increase Training Mileage?

As the competition nears your training mileage should increase but it should be for a maximum of 10% per week. Don’t accelerate your training too quickly because you’ll be vulnerable to injuries, so incremental increase is much better. The exception to this rule is if you’re coming off after a long layoff and you’re commencing with a single digit mileage. If that’s the case then you can increase by more than 10% every week until you have reached your regular training load.

When Do I Run After Eating?

The general rule is wait a couple of hours after a meal before you run. Two hours is more than enough for most people to digest the food they’ve eaten. Don’t run immediately after eating because you run the risk of bloating, cramps and vomiting. These are general guidelines of course; if you just ate a light meal rich in carbs, you can probably run in 90 minutes, but if it was a fat and protein rich meal, wait up to three hours especially if it was heavy.

How Should I Warm Up and Cool Down?

Your runs need to start with a walk: do this for 10 minutes and build up to slow running, and do this too as you’re winding down and finishing a race. Just as your body needs warm ups during exercise, the same rule applies for running as the warm up increases blood flow and the temperature of your core muscles. Cooling down is just as necessary because it helps prevent nausea and leg cramps. The exception to this is when the weather is warm, as you can do with less than 10 minutes of  warm ups.

What Shoes Should I Wear?

The shoes must be made expressly for running: ordinary shoes won’t do because they don’t offer the protection and features required for long distance running. Fit is very important of course as well as breathability, so there needs to be a half centimeter of empty space over your large toe.

An example of an excellent pair is the ASICS Men’s GT-2000 3 Running Shoes. It’s comfortable, light and has an impact guidance system that improves your feet’s natural gait. Another is the New Balance Men’s M990v3, which has a dual density collar that relies on soft density foam to cushion your feet.

>>> You may also want to check out post on choosing your running shoes here 😉

How Do I Deal with Aches and Pains?

Most runners follow the two day rule: if something aches for two days straight when you run, take a two day break. Don’t dismiss this as just regular body ache because it could be symptomatic of an incoming injury. Depending on the severity of the pain, it might not be a bad idea to take up to five days off from training. Usually the pain disappears after a couple of days, but if it persists for more than two weeks, consult your trainer or doctor.

How Long Should My Race Recovery Be?

Allow a day of recovery for each mile you race before resuming hard racing or training. So if you just completed a marathon or a 10K you should not do any racing or speed exercises for six days. This rule was created by Jack Foster, former marathon record holder, and it’s now followed by most runners. The only exception to this rule is if your running wasn’t all-out.

What is the 20 Mile Rule?

The 20 Mile Rule states that you should run 20 miles before taking part in a marathon. Such a long run will help you prepare for a marathon physically, and it helps you mentally as well because if you can do 20 miles, 26 miles doesn’t seem like a stretch anymore.

At least that’s the general rule when it comes to new marathon runners. If you’re an experienced long distance runner you can get by with just 18 miles, but others do go the other end and run for 24 miles.



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