If you’re thinking about taking part in a marathon or other long distance running event, you’ll be required to gradually increase the miles of your training programme. You need to make sure your body is physically prepared, but you also need to make sure that you’re mentally ready.
Tackling longer distances can be intimidating for some runners, especially the ones who are more inexperienced, but completing them can be incredibly rewarding. Here we’ve explained some of our favourite strategies for making your longer runs more achievable and enjoyable.
Importance of a Warm Up & Cool Down
It doesn’t matter how long or short your runs are, you should always start with a warm up and finish with a cool down. A good warm up will help to prevent a range of problems that could influence your performance, such as muscle tightness and stiffness, and it ensures that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen before working them out.
A cool down is just as important as it keeps the blood flowing throughout the body. Suddenly stopping exercising is likely to cause a rapid decrease in your heart rate and blood pressure, potentially causing you to become dizzy or faint. By slowly winding down, they can gradually fall.
Run Outside or on a Treadmill?
Whether you run outside to complete your training programme, or you cover the distance on a treadmill will usually come down to personal preference. Neither are better than the other as both offer different advantages.
If it’s safe and the weather allows, we’d recommend that you get yourself outdoors for your runs. The fresh air and change of scenery is likely to keep you distracted and reduce the chances of you quickly becoming bored. Try to change your route each time you run so that you see something different and aren’t always running around the same field.
If the weather isn’t ideal, it can make sense to get your miles in on your treadmill. You can watch the TV or turn the radio on to keep you entertained, and you can stop anytime you feel the need to.
If you’re taking part in a virtual challenge, it doesn’t matter where you complete your mileage. As long as you keep a record of how far you’ve ran, you’ll receive an awesome medal and compression top as a reward for your hard work, commitment and dedication!
A common issue runners face when running the longer distance is tightness in several muscles, causing them to finish their runs prematurely. If you experience this, stop for a short period and stretch the affected muscles. Continue to run for a little while and if the pain is still present, stop your run and seek specialist advice.
Find a Running Partner
Running long distances on your own can be a lonely experience, which is why so many people find a running partner to join in with their programme. Running with someone else provides several benefits that might make the gruelling miles seem less challenging:
- Social – The social aspect of running with a partner can make you look forward to going out for a run rather than dreading it. It can make the time go quicker, and usually means you enjoy it more!
- Motivation – Running with someone who is motivated to complete their runs will inevitably boost your own motivation. You won’t want to let your partner down, and if you’re struggling at any time, your friend will be on hand to give you a pep talk.
- Safety – You never know what you might encounter when going for a run (particularly in an unfamiliar area or at night), so having a friend by your side can come in extremely handy should any unexpected incidents occur.
If you can’t find a friend or family member willing to go out with you on your runs, consider joining a local running club.
Incorporate Strength Training into Your Programme
Strength training is crucial for athletes who regularly take part in longer runs as it helps the body to better deal with the stresses of running. The training doesn’t have to be too strenuous – three 20-minute workouts a week should be enough to gradually build more muscle mass. It’ll help your muscles perform better and for a longer time period before getting fatigued.
Set Yourself Small Goals
Setting yourself small, individual goals can be a great motivational tool that inspires you to keep going and help overcome the mental challenges of running for long periods of time. For example, as you approach the end of the run, challenge yourself to run to the end of the road without stopping, or see if you can run the next mile in under a specified time period. As long as they keep you moving, it doesn’t matter how simple your goals are.
Virtual Running Challenges with Race at your Pace
Here at Race at your Pace, we’re passionate about getting people into fitness and keeping active. Our virtual running challenges challenge you to run a specified distance in a single month, wherever and whenever you like. Once you have completed the challenge, all you have to do is send us evidence that you have completed your miles, and we’ll post a medal and slick compression top to you!
Contact us to find out more information, or sign up today!
See more: What is a Virtual Challenge?
See more: Diet & Nutrition Tips for Runners