Distance Running: Improve Your Long Distance Running Step By Step - Elle Petersen (2016)

Introduction

Allow me to thank you and congratulate you for purchasing the book “Distance Running”. Good decision. If you are planning to become a better distance runner and don’t have a proper guideline; then I can assure you that you have found an adequate resource of information about distance running. This guide can be used by beginners, but it can also be useful to more experienced runners looking to enhance their long distance running.

    We all know that running is a great way to exercise. It ensures our body stay fit, sound and healthy. Briefly, running increases the level of good cholesterol which helps our body to function well.

    Running is not an easy task to perform for everybody. But the benefits that you will reap from running are priceless. It is also said to be the most ancient form of exercise. It does not necessarily require any senior expertise or any specialized equipment, but it requires regularly practice. Good tips along the way can improve your running tremendously. Hence this book.

    Running also boosts our immune system and reduces the risk of diabetes and blood clots. Running is an equally good exercise for both men and women. For women, it eradicates, to some degree, the chances of breast cancer. Physicians often suggest people to make running a regular exercise as it decreases the chances of high blood pressure and osteoporosis. I could go on about the benefits of running, but I think you all get the point. We should all do it.

    So, if you might be going through health related problems, and the physician has prescribed you to perform exercises on a regular basis; then you can take up running (or jogging or even walking) as your first choice (but don’t forget to consult the same physician about it). In this book, I have tried to cover many aspects of running and I hope it becomes a helping source for your queries about running and distance running in particular. Let’s get started running!


Adjusting your running to your individual preconditions

A famous proverb goes by: –

“Grass doesn’t grow faster if you pull on it”.

Knowing your body and general health before taking up distance running is important. Injuries are common when running regularly. Every year, two thirds of all runners across the globe get injured while running. Preventive measures and preconditions must be considered.

    While running, our muscles are used extensively. Our bones and joints get exposed to massive pressure. As a result, if you are not a bit careful it may cause injuries. Ideally, you should follow different steps while getting started running.

    When you start running for the first time (or maybe in a long time), you should make frequent pauses and rest when you feel it is enough, it all depends on your present physical condition. After a short break or a little workout, you should start running again. Once it becomes a habit after a few days, or weeks, the pain will soon go away.

    Two major factors are essential to maintain a good shape for running: time and patience. A balanced nutrition and a regular solid sleep is also necessary. You should also, if possible, customize your shoes for running purposes, or buy a pair of high quality running shoes from a serious running/sports store, this will most likely prevent fractures and other less grave running related problems. The footwear should preferably not be too old.

    Every day, or as often as you can, you have to run with a specific time limit and speed. The moment you get used to it, or feel comfortable, you should start increasing your speed and distance, but the set time limit should be less. In this way, step by step, your accuracy and speed will become balanced, as well as your capacity of running.

    You can also combine your running with walking. As for example, you can consider running for half an hour, within this time frame, 15 minutes can be taken for running and the other 15 minutes for walking. In this way, by then increasing the time, you can balance your walking with running. This should also minimize the time consumed for resting.

    For a smooth and efficient running style, you need to consider your weight. If you are overweight, you have to start with walking first for a few days, or weeks, and after that start jogging or running. Once you start losing a little weight you can concentrate on your running style.

    If you are having problems with running, you can appoint a coach for training. He will run through your basic training and provide you important suggestions. You can get guidance on different running and stretching techniques quickly, which will be very helpful to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it might be sufficient with hiring a private coach for one or two hours a week, for a month or two.

    You can alsoconsider a“jump start” as a part of running. In the initial stage, minor jumps and rope skipping can be considered. This will help in running too. So in order to improve your running and have a safe and sound start, you should abide by the different techniques and preconditions for a better way of learning the running process. Listen to your body, be careful in the beginning and please consult your physician or doctor before starting, to make sure everything goes well.


How to run long distance-step by step

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself."

                                                                   -John Bingham

This quote will motivate you for running long distance even though it is thought to be impossible for a lot of people. Definite steps have to be followed for long distance running.

    The 1st and foremost step is to have a balanced diet and to bring an adequate amount of water with you when running. It is good not to eat just before your running, this will keep away cramps. The second step is to plan the run. For how long time will you run? Which route will you follow? How long will you run? All of these questions should be dealt with prior to running.

    For example, if you chose a high cliff or a mountain as a goal for your run, in that case you should try to calculate the time you will run, the rest and the amount of water that you will need. The approximate distance that you can cover with your required time in the very terrain is also important. All of the points lifted above will be beneficial for you in many ways.

    The 3rd step that you have to follow is wearing light weight shoes that fit well. Uncomfortable shoes are the worst thing you can have when running uphill and long distances. Comfortable running clothes will allow you to wick your sweat off and help you run long distance at ease.

    In the 4th step we could follow an easy process which is a warm up run. You can run along a school area or a road of a specific area, which is usually a short route that ends within a short time. After that, you can continue on running towards a bigger area or route as part of a regular routine. While running, it is essential to keep our focus on the legs and steps. But you must not forget to stretch your arms which is equally important.

    Maintain an exact and consistent pace while running. If you feel that you get tired after running a while, then you can slow your pace, or change to walking for a short time, then start running again. Try not to stop when you are running until or unless you get tired. Drink as much water as you feel needed.

    Breathing well is very much important in long distance running. During humid and summer weather after running a while, you could, as an experiment, urinate and check for ample hydration as a measure on your present condition.

    In the 5th step, try to follow a specific target/goal every time you run. If you can make a proper plan and execute accordingly, you will obviously achieve your target distance. Try to increase a little bit of distance every day when setting your target, or every week. By maintaining this process, you will be able to run effectively and efficiently.


Posture, breathing techniques and the importance of stretching

“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind”.

                                                             - Morihei Ueshiba

The process of holding one’s body upright against gravity while sitting, standing or lying down can be considered as posture. Posture is an effective process that helps the muscles and ligaments during movement. A good posture can prevent backache and muscular pain.

    Doing regular yoga is also a good way of keeping a good posture. Combining yoga with running is actually something many do, and something that works well. Also, if you are lifting a lot of stuff in your daily life, you should learn proper lifting techniques and an adequate posture for lifting, or else you risk hurting your body in many ways.

    Breathing and stretching properly are important and play useful roles both mentally and physically. If they can be combined properly, not only for walking or running, then it will be helpful for all kinds of sports related activities. Breathing exercises are a very natural and simple way of exercising, and yet not many people do them.

    Breathing exercises doesn’t require much time or equipment and they can be performed anywhere. You can follow these steps: exhale completely through your mouth and inhale through your nose by keeping the mouth shut for some time. You need to hold your breath for 5-7 seconds and then slowly exhale. If you continue this 4-5 times and then do it regularly, it will be very helpful later when you are out there distance running. Comfortable breathing doesn’t require a physician, you can learn it by yourself with the exercise above, and you can find many more breathing exercises if you just search for it on the internet.

    According to one John C. Maxwell “Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them.”  Stretching is an important part of regular life, yet we often forget about stretching. It influences confidence, enlightenment and a cheerful life. if you stretch everyday it will increase your blood pressure and help you to keep a healthy and sound mind and body. A sense of invigoration and energy becomes improved thanks to stretching.

    People with desk jobs or office workers have to spend a lot of time working in the office sitting. This inactivity causes stress of muscles and joints, often resulting in serious pain in the knees and the lower back. Stretching can help reduce this kind of pain and discomfort. Rotational stretches for example, can reduce the pain in the thoracic spine. Stretches should be done for at least 10-15 seconds and it’s better to focus on a specific muscle while stretching. Again, if a person can stretch only 10 minutes per day within work time, it will definitely be very useful. Stretching exercises need to be made a habit.

    If you are aware of proper breathing and stretching techniques, you will be able to get rid of a lot of unnecessary problems. The basic rule is to follow the steps in a correct manner and taking step by step action when implementing new exercises, start slowly.

    Now, you may think that this chapter was basic, that you already knew all of this. Well, I wanted to keep this at a basic level, since it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to breath, stretch and keep a good posture when you want to become a better distance runner. All of these pieces are key, and need to be worked on from a basic level and learned properly.

    When you are out there and running for perhaps one hour, it is crucial to have a good posture, otherwise you will get tired quicker. The same goes for breathing. Accurate and stable breathing whilst running will help you continue and reach longer distances. Before and after having run a long distance, stretching is imperative.  Without stretching, your body will sustain injury and you won’t be able to continue running for long. My advice is to buy a poster with good stretching exercises and put it on the wall at home. You can look at it whilst stretching!

Improving your running speed

“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.”

                                                                           -Joyce Carol Oates

Running is arguably the best exercise for people of all ages. In order to increase the speed and distance of running in the long term, the first and foremost thing to think about is the distance. Will you last for the whole distance you have planned to run? Is your present shape good enough?

    In order to sustain pace you need to know how fast your body can burn energy. If you are a regular runner, you should know your speed limit and capacity. Before you start running every day, stretch as a warm up process. Slow jogging can be done for 5-15 minutes.

    Running in an easy pace several times a week allows you to gain essential endurance. In this way, when your fitness then increases, you can increase the distance and the running speed. Every week, or month, you can increase your speed little by little. Don’t overdo running too much if you are not used to it, or if you are not in a good physical shape at present. Your body will need time to adjust to your new running speed and running distance.

    A tempo run can also be helpful in increasing running speed. For example: you can run twenty minutes at full pace, slow the speed a bit, take some rest for 5 minutes, then start running back again for another twenty minutes. Repeat this exercise every week.

    Patience is an important factor for all runners, and especially for distance runners. Getting too confident of your running abilities too soon can cause problems, it’s essential to take good care of the body before you reach your full potential, and to advance your skills step by step.

    It’s a good thing to have a proper plan or goal before running. Many of us run for different reasons. A person trying to increase the health status by running will have a different running style than those who are practicing running before a marathon or similar. We who love distance running need to focus a lot on endurance. We want our body to be fit and to last for a longer running time.

    Your distance running exercising will also be more fun if there is variety in your running. You shouldn’t always run in the same location; you need to change your location after a while so that you learn how to adapt to new running environments, and to different weather conditions as well. Suppose you have become an expert in running long distance straight roads, then you could start practicing running mountain roads for a while. This will help you earn experience in running from low roads to high hills and vice versa.

    Before long distance runs, it is better to avoid large meals. Digestion requires a lot of body energy. If you consume a lot of food right before running, it will take a lot of time to digest, and as a result you will feel uncomfortable while running and it can result in stomach ache. You can always consult with a coach or a physician about nutrition and running/exercising for your convenience.


A runner’s nutrition

Running is a form of exercise that has various nutritional requirements. In order to improve your running skills, you need proper endurance and stamina. Every long distance run requires protein and strength to succeed. After 15-20 minutes of running, have some water.

    If you have more weight, your body will require a lot of protein-rich food. If you are not a good chef, then protein can also be found today in various tasty drinks that you can buy almost everywhere, designed for exercising. Just read about the ingredients before you buy them, so that they don’t contain too much sugar and other things that you might not want.

    Every day, fresh vegetables and fruits should be eaten. I try to eat 4-5 fruits a day, starting with making fresh orange juice every morning and making smoothies with various fruits in them in the afternoon and in the evening. This has given me unpredicted levels of energy and has helped me to stay alert and have better endurance when distance running.

    Caffeine and alcohol in large amounts are harmful as they will dehydrate you. Even though caffeine is considered as a boost for performance, still too much of it is not good. You can do an experiment of taking a little caffeine before a run. As a result, you will probably notice that you are having too much urges for visiting the bathroom frequently, and this is not something that suits you when distance running.

   Avoid junk food as much as possible (perhaps it goes without saying, but it merits to be said…). Women also require more iron as they get tired and weak after running for a long time. Red meat and leafy green food are essential.

    Different kinds of workouts require different kinds of digestive food. If you are doing a workout for at least 1 hour without food it shouldn’t be a problem. But if the workout is going on for more than an hour, then it could be complemented with some nutritious snack, drinks or food.

    So, in order to run efficiently, it is recommended that you follow a balanced diet. You should also determine your sweat rate. You need about 16 ounces of water for every pound you lose, but of course this varies. You can also take advice from fellow runners. Join different training programs and consult a nutritionist or a physician for advice on a balanced diet that suits your personal conditions.


Useful running tools

It has been mentioned already, but one of the most essential items and running tools for a beginner is a pair of good running sneakers. You’re going to spend many hours as a distance runner in those shoes, so it is important that they are a perfect fit.

    Comfortable running shorts and a shirt that will help put the sweat away will help facilitate your running as well. The lighter your dress, the better it will be for your movement. For women, a good sports bra, tights and skirt are good. Whatever you wear, it should be reflective to prevent accidents in the traffic. Generally, runners are potentially less visible to drivers, especially during night one should be careful.

    Comprehension socks should be worn as they are comfortable and better for long distance runs. If it is summer and you are planning to run more than 3-4 km’ s, then you must take a water bottle with you. You can bring one that is light to carry whilst running, or you can get a water belt with small water bottles attached, that’s the one I prefer to use when running long distance, after a while you don’t notice it.

    You could also take a running watch with you, but a smartphone could be even more preferable if you can manage to carry it, there are holsters for this also. With the smartphone, you can download running apps like Run Keeper or Daily Mile. These will help you keep track of your speed, distance and daily progress.

    Do carry a runner’s belt containing your ID, some cash and energy gels in case of any kinds of emergencies. Sunscreen is a must for summer days. Overheat and sun rays can also cause considerable damage to the eyes, so wearing sunglasses is good during this season.

    For the winter season, you could carry a hat/beanie for covering your ears and a jacket for protection from the cold wind. Double layer socks could be worn to protect the legs from blister. It all depends on how cold it is where you live during winter time.

    Running is a wonderful exercise, but when you are running for a long time all alone, you sometimes get bored. So in this case, if you have a smartphone with you, you can download some good tunes and listen while running. Some good music can help you keep the pace and strengthens you to keep on going. Some people prefer to listen to audiobooks while running, it all depends on what you like.

    Some experienced runners also carry heart rate monitors with them, they will provide information on whether it is better to slow down or to speed up. They can also provide early warnings for illnesses etc.

    You shouldn’t lose hope and give up on running if you are hurt. If you meet all the necessaries and keep the essential tools with you, you can reduce a lot of pain and trouble. A little bit of consciousness can help you achieve your goal and your efforts can be successful. Remember, start slow and take it step by step and you will become an advanced distance runner.


The health benefits of running

Remarkable health is the pursuit of the unconventional.”

                                                                                        -Matt Gartland

Regular running and jogging has a lot of health benefits. First of all, it improves the mental condition of a person and makes him happier. According to a study published in Medicine and science in sports and exercise: 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill, could lift the mood of a person suffering from serious and major depressive order.

    Running builds up your bones and makes them strong. Your cardiovascular fitness improves and helps to maintain a better weight. If you continue running every day, or every other day, you will most likely live a longer life. Running is also said to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease even if you have a family history of it. Besides that, it helps to keep a sharp mind and prevent dementia.

    Running also gives you a better chance to fall asleep quickly in the evening and then sleep well. You will get a highly improved self-esteem and self-confidence. Running helps to fuel the body efficiently and improves memory and learning. Runners also tend to have an increased lung capacity because they log mile after mile. You will become more tolerant to germs as your body will be in a better shape than earlier.

    The more you run, the more physically strong legs you will have. This also means improved ligaments and joints and the chance that your legs will sprain will get reduced. It will become easier to climb up hills and critical roads. If you are suffering from overweight and need to become thinner, start walking and then running. This is the easiest and healthiest process and helps reduce weight within a short period of time.

    Research scientists have also proved that men who run long distances everyday have stronger sex drives and higher sperm counts. Women can lower the risk of breast cancer by running regularly. If we go through the courses of history, we will find out that many great thinkers were impressive runners. For example, Enigma code breaker Alan Turing and Nobel Prize winner Wolfgang Ketterle set records in running marathons. This should provide us with a great motivational factor and influence us to run.

    If you don’t have time to do long distance runs every day, short runs every day makes a person energized and more focused. As you see can see, the health benefits of running are many, indeed maybe too many to even mention in this chapter. But I think we could all agree that the health benefits of running are truly remarkable and if done regularly, a person will live a happier and healthier life.


The best places for distance running

There are fantastic places all over the world suitable for distance running. Some of these places are really great for practicing running and some of them are best fitted for highly trained athletes. I will mention a few of the famous places in the US for distance running below, but if you live elsewhere, I am sure you can find great places where you live as well. 

·           The Dale ball in New Mexico for example, consists of 22 miles of a looped single track. The trail is popular for the desert views. It heads up to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains climbing up to 12000 feet of mountainous running.

·           Boulder, Colorado is another spot famous for hiking and running. It connects a huge network of trails. If you head to the top of the Green Mountain in that location, you will have an amazing view of the city below.

·           The Madison trails in Wisconsin, consisting of 4 lakes and a beachfront is up to 12 000 miles suitable for running or hiking.

·           Then we have Austin parks located in Texas. There are about 19000 acres of parks and the famous surrounding Hill Country.

·           Pickney State is also an interesting place, consisting of 17.5 miles of creek crossings, steep climbing, racing ranges and more.

·           Washington DC houses one of the biggest Fort Circle parks. The trail is about 830 miles consisting of historical sites like the Potomac river around it.

·           Nashville is another spot of 9 individual trails from 150 yards to 4.5 miles.

·           Central Park of New Work consists of dozens of miles of running trails for various groups of people.

·           Albuquerque, New Mexico consists of mountain peaks and hilly areas.

·           These places mentioned above are widely used for training people in difficult areas. Different racing events are also held here.

    If you don’t have these places near you or if you are a habitant of a much distant place, then you could choose places around your home. Location is not always an important factor. The basic task is about running and no matter where you are, you need to learn the basic principles of endurance in your running. However, try to practice running on as many different type of places as you can imagine; downhill, uphill, wood paths and rainy roads etc. The more places for running you can master, the better.

    Good places for running include: park sites, beside lakes, village- and farmland areas and wherever you feel free to run. You need to make a habit of doing it every day or as often as you can. Choose your destination according to your capability and try to change it after a certain time. By maintaining this, you will surely become a great distance runner.


Distance running in your everyday life

You don’t need to run 26.5 miles to become a “distance runner”. You have to realize that it takes time to become a better runner. That is why you have to make running a part of your everyday life. If you take running as an extra task, it is never going to feel like a natural part of your life or something you are passionate about. But then of course, it is totally up to you how much into running you want to be.

    I have talked to some renowned runners, in order to get myself inspired, and do you know what they told me? They don’t just drive all the time to nearby places. Rather than sitting in the same old car and paying for the gas, they run to work, or to do their shopping. Whenever they have little errands, they see the possibility to run. This got me inspired and now I have started to run more in the neighborhood, try it you too!

    If you have been running regularly, then you must know how good or bad you feel at the time of running; running will make you feel better afterwards. I have mentioned earlier that running actually makes you happier. You know how? well, let me tell you. While you are running your body emits the feel-good hormone called endocannabinoids, and these will give you a sense of feeling good after. So, if you make running a regular to-do in your daily routine, then I am giving you the assurance that you are going to be happier than before.

    If you are going through a mental pressing situation at the moment, perhaps in college or at the office or even in your relationship, then I would recommend you to leave your house and force yourself to run. This will get your mind to focus on other things and a chance to get those feel-good hormones flowing again.

    If you are worried about your age for starting distance running, don’t be, you can always start slow, even by walking, and then by jogging. If you want to maintain or better your body shape, but don’t want to go for the hard and fast workouts; then you can take up running as an option. Try to make it a part of your daily routine and take it from there.


Dos and Don'ts in distance running

While you are running you must keep in mind some dos and don’ts. If you don’t follow some basic rules in running, then it could hurt your body rather than improving it. Our body is a complex machine of muscles. Improvement of your body depends largely on how you are applying any new exercise to your body. Below I am going to name a few do’s and don’ts for running. Tips that have been valuable to me.

Dos

Start slow- Don’t run too fast the first times. Our body doesn’t adapt to any new exercise at the very first moment. So start slow. By the passage of time, increase your speed.

Wear comfortable clothes

Wear clothes that you find comfortable. Some prefer tight clothes while others prefer loose-fitting clothes. There are a lot of track suit in the market of synthetic cotton which will wick some of the perspiration away from your body. It will help you to avoid chafing as well.

Breathe on rhythm

The most perfect way to proper breathing cadence is to breathe in or out every time your dominant foot touches the grounds. Some people master this while some don’t. You could try it and see how hard it is for you.

Don’t forget to drink water

While you are running, you lose a huge amount of water from your body. So you have to refill your water level. Water also works as a psychological cooling agent which gives you a calm and quiet mental stability.

Take Breaks with a Regular Interval

Cool down with a break of five to ten minutes after some distance, then continue running and later do the same thing again. This is especially important for distant runners who are beginners.

Don’ts

Be Alert

Don’t wear headphones or a Walkman while you are running on the roadside or in a crowded place. It will prevent you from hearing any kind of horn or anything that might result in a clash.

Watch your arms

Don’t run with a bad arm form. Run with the arm form in which you feel most comfortable. Keep your arms relaxed and try to avoid excessive arm movements. Specialists suggest to keep the arm approximately in a 90-degree angle.

Don’t carry anything on the back

Try to run free of any heavy carriage on your back. Run freely. If you need to carry something, try using a carriage belt.

Run your own race

Don’t run to show off. Concentrate on your own race. Don’t try to compete with other people. Focus on your own destination instead and try to beat longer distances time after another.


Conclusion

I hope this book was able to help you get started with distance running, or that you have improved your running after having read it. By having studied this book, you now know about the benefits of running, and also about the importance of starting slow and taking it step by step, as well as the dangers of overdoing something and the ways to keep a sound mind. 

    I would like to recommend you to make a routine every day for the type of food to eat, the amount of exercise to be done and the daily rest that is essential. If a person can balance these elements, he or she will definitely lead a healthy life and become successful in any physical activities.

    Running is a habit that can be grown by people of all ages. It doesn’t require any additional money, expertise or skills, all it needs is a person’s initiative, self-interest, perseverance and preferably a bit of motivation from the people around you. A personal trainer can only give ideas of how to develop yourself. But you alone have to be the one who has to take all the responsibilities and take the necessary steps so that you can conquer your fear and do the “impossible”. Once you get used to it, running long distances regularly, you will be surprised of how easy it will feel and you will wonder why you haven’t started earlier.

    Finally, if you enjoyed this book, then I would be very grateful if you would leave a short review for it on amazon!

Thank you and good luck with your running!

-Elle Petersen