Long distance running is a very challenging thing to take up. Most successful long distance runners have a real passion for training and are mentally able to push through physical discomfort to hit their mile goals. If you think you have what it takes to become one of these elite runners, these long distance running tips for beginners will help you get started.
#1: Make sure your expectations of your body are realistic.
The first thing you have to do when you decide to become a long distance runner is take stock of where you are as a runner today. If you are not already running shorter distances on a routine basis, then you will realistically take longer to hit the long miles than someone who has already completed at few 5Ks and runs a few times a week.
If you expect too much of yourself in the beginning, you will feel disappointed with your progress. That disappointment can easily feel like failure which leads to quitting. It is much better to start out with reasonable expectations so you feel successful and powerful as you progress.
#2: Your toes need room to breathe.
It is very common for long distance runners to have black and blue toes that are quite painful. This isn’t just the demand and strain of an intense training schedule. It is also a matter of finding running shoes with the proper fit.
Make sure there is ¾” to 1″ of space between the top of your big toe and the end of your shoe. This may feel too big when you first try it on, but you need the extra space around the toes so they are not rubbing into the shoe and being pressed into one another. That is what causes a lot of the bruised toes experienced by runners who pound the pavement for many hours at a time.
You can wear thicker socks or put moleskin the back heel of your shoes if it slips off your heel due to the extra room in the toe.
Also pay attention to your clothing and make sure you are dressed for the weather.
#3: Pay attention to your body and listen if it needs to slow down.
Training pace is not a one-size-fits-all issue. If you are following a training plan or someone else’s guidelines don’t be afraid to make modifications if your body needs to slow down at times. If you are doing your own thing then make sure to listen to your body and give yourself rests when it is needed.
If you push too hard too fast you can end up with overuse injuries that take you out of the running game for awhile or severely slow your training down. Your body will talk to you if you pay attention.
Some aches and pains are normal, but you shouldn’t feel severe pain. Also look for signs of fatigue and exhaustion which can be signs that you are pushing too hard at the moment and need to give yourself a break.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take a day or two off before a race. Rest up and restore your energy so you don’t face exhaustion on the big day.
#4: Smoother, softer surfaces are best.
It is easy to find a sidewalk or perhaps a concrete path to run on, but it is best to go for a dirt trail or some other surface that is softer. Long distance runners can develop joint and back problems over time because of the pounding their body takes during those long runs. The softer the surface, the more you spare your joints.
You can also do some of your runs indoors on a treadmill to go even lighter on your body. Just make sure outdoor running is part of the plan as well.
#5: Every workout doesn’t have to be ball-busting hardcore.
You don’t have to run your body into exhaustion every time you set out for a run. Some of your runs should be light, casual runs that work the body with less stress. You should also do some interval training that doesn’t focus directly on increasing your distance.
Long distance running is about going further, but it is also about form, speed and control. If you are just beginning as a runner you may want to do a lot of reading to learn why these other things are so important when running the distance.
It takes a lot of dedication and passion to survive in the world of long distance running. Do you still think you have what it takes?