Running is not everybody’s cup of tea. Some people would rather do anything than go on a run- especially a long-distance run. But, if you’re one of those people who know the true meaning of a runner’s high- you know the feeling of beating a long-distance run is like none other. I used to run cross country, and I was pretty good if I may say so myself. Before a long-distance race, I would be all nerves. The thought of running for miles and miles terrified me, but I knew I had to do it.
Then, during the run, I would be in pain, but I would repeatedly tell myself I had to keep running. I would be exhausted, but the second I crossed the finish line, joined by the cheers of my friends, family, and coaches- I felt like I was on cloud nine.
Preparing for a long-distance run isn’t easy- you can’t just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon and do it no problem. However, if you are on a tight schedule, there are some ways you can quickly and smoothly prepare for a long-distance run:
Don’t run right after eating
Although it might sound like a good idea to load up on carbs before going on a run, you have to wait at least 2 hours after eating before running. Not giving your body enough time to digest your food can lead to cramps, vomiting, and bloat, and no one wants that during a long-distance run.
Do a warm-up/cool down
Although you might be tempted to start your run the second you can, it’s essential to take the time to warm up. All you need is 10 minutes to prepare your body and mind for the endurance of a long-distance run, and you’ll find yourself thankful in the end. The same goes with 10 minutes to cool down- don’t just assume because your run is over, you’re completely done for the day.
Do take time off
If you’re short on time to prepare for a run, you might want to run every single day. And although that is a good idea, if you find yourself in any bit of pain- take time off! You might tell yourself to “run it off,” but that can end up doing more harm than good. Running when your body is in pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop. Give yourself the time to heal before jumping on a long-distance run again.
Don’t eliminate carbs from your diet
If you’re running as a form of weight loss, you might think that removing carbs from your diet is an excellent way to quicken up losing weight. And although some people find a carb-less diet works for them- that’s definitely not the case for runners. Load up on carbs for a few days before a run. “Carbo-loading” will be your best friend.
Don’t JUST run
It’s important to mix up your workout schedule to include more than just running to prepare for a long-distance run. Just running every day will make you prone to injury, and no one wants that. Include weight training and other forms of cardio to make your body and heart strong. That will improve your endurance and strength, therefore improving how you run and the impact it has on your body.
Do run at an even pace
There’s always that one person that starts off the race at a super-fast speed, but that person almost always slows down about halfway through. Running at the same pace from start to finish is an excellent way to guarantee you won’t tire yourself out before you reach the end of the run. The one outlier is at the very end of a race if it’s a competition and you believe you have the stamina to outrun someone running close by you.
Do have easy running days
Don’t force yourself to run super long, and intense runs every single day. If you’re training for a half marathon, which is about 13.1 miles, you shouldn’t be running 13.1 hard miles every single day. Every hard day should be followed by an easy day. 13 miles one day, five the next. Your body needs the time to reboot and recover so you can tackle your next hard day in your best possible shape.
Follow these few steps and give yourself enough time to prepare, and you’ll find yourself ready and excited for a long-distance run. Remember how great you’ll feel when the run is finished and have the confidence in yourself that you will finish. And most importantly- remember to have fun with it.