How to Start Running Long Distance

If you’re like us, you get jealous when people share pictures of a long distance runs on their smart watches. No matter what you do, you just can’t seem to run more than a few miles. A marathon (or even a half-marathon) seems like a distant dream. If running long distance doesn’t come naturally to you, the good news is that it is something that can be learned! After reading these few tips and tricks along with a positive mindset, you’ll start running long distance easily with this how-to guide.

Running long distance has some incredible benefits whether you’re already running short distances or looking to switch up your normal workouts. That running high you always hear about? It’s so real a Swedish institute did research on it. Those who run daily for at least 30 minutes are more likely to live longer. If you’re looking for more reasons to run longer and farther, check out these 6 Science-Backed Ways Running Improves Your Health.

Focus on Fuel

When you’re running long distance your body needs proper fuel, AKA nutrition and hydration. If you don’t fuel your body properly before a long distance run, it will be like a car running on empty. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and are essential for fueling a long run. The amount of carbohydrates you need to consume will depend on the length of your run. For those who running 60 minutes or longer, it is important to fuel your body similar to the way an athlete fuels theirs.

Hydration is also key for long distance running. The longer you exercise, the more you’re at risk for dehydration. You need to hydrate prior to running, during, and afterwards. If you are hydrating during your run, take a water bottle with you! Or keep an eye out for water fountains on your route.

Have a Positive Mindset

Mindset is everything, in your day-to-day life and when it comes to running. If you tell yourself you can’t run long distance, your body will listen. The quote “if you’re not a confident person, pretend to be one,” by Caitlin Moran, applies perfectly to those with a goal to run longer. Pretend you’re already a long distance runner, your body will start to believe it. Soon enough you’ll be running long distance and realize you don’t have to pretend anymore.

What works for you mentally, will be different than others. If 10 miles seems daunting to you, try breaking it down into five 2 mile runs and take a walk in between. Ten miles is still 10 miles even with breaks! If you need some motivation during your run, try listening to motivational speeches on YouTube. Or try running with a friend, it will get your mind off of the distance while also keeping you company. They can also push you to try harder when you need it.

Pace Yourself

If you’re already able to keep a pace of 10 minutes per mile for 2-3 miles, don’t expect to keep the same pace for 4-6 miles at first. If you’re tired at the end of 2-3 miles for your current pace, don’t push yourself to do more when you’re not ready. Try slowing your pace down to preserve energy and you’ll be surprised at how much farther you can go. Once you’re able to successfully reach your mileage goal, try picking up the pace!

If you’re a sprinter, slowing your pace down can be difficult at first. Your natural instinct is to go and go fast. Entertain yourself with distractions that will keep your mind off of going faster. Put on one of your favorite podcasts or curate a special playlist of your favorite songs. If you’re not a fan of running with headphones try changing up your routes so you’re busy observing new scenery. The easiest way to slow your pace down is to track it with a smart watch or smart phone. All you’ll need to do is glance down at your phone or watch and it tells you your pace! If you’re more into old school methods, run on a path that has mile markers with a stopwatch to monitor how fast you’re going.

Start Using a Running App

Technology might just be your BFF when training for long distances. There are several running apps that exist that serve different purposes. Your smart devices probably have a built in running app that cover your basics being time, mileage, pace, and a map. If you’re looking for something more, check out your app store.

For the sprinters who need something more than just one pace, try an app that breaks a longer run into intervals. If you want a thoroughly detailed training schedule, try out an app that plans out all of your runs for you. There are even apps that match your current running speed with a song that’s rhythm matches your run. Or if you thrive off a community with a similar mindset, try out an app like Strava! We recommend doing some research on the different apps that are out there for your smart tech. Then have some fun testing them out!

Don’t Forget Post-Run Care

It can be easy to get home, kick off your running shoes and just jump in the shower. But remember, you’re pushing yourself more than your normal exercise – which your body is not used to yet. Cool down for a few more blocks than you normally do. Do a deep stretch right after your run to loosen those muscles. Catch your breath and reflect on the amazing run you’ve just completed!

You’ll probably be sore and your body will require more post-workout nourishment. Don’t be afraid to eat some extra carbs since you’ve just depleted your body of energy. Invest in a quality foam roller to massage those sore leg muscles. Lastly, hydration is vital after a long run.

With these easy 5 how-to tips you’ll be able to start running long distance in no time! When you set your mind to being successful, you can achieve your goals. As you start to get the hang of running longer distances, try signing up for a 10k or a half marathon, the races might push you to run your quickest time yet.