Distance Running Tips
1. Practice running fast.
Anyone can run slow. It takes skill to hold faster paces for longer periods of time.
2. Practice running slow.
You cannot benefit from all those hero or shero miles and workouts unless you take easy days just as seriously.
You adapt in the rest, not in the workout itself.
3. Don’t lose hope. Live the bad race for a couple hours, then let it go.
Be a zen running genius.
Don’t waste your energy on a race you cannot bring back.
Pick the pieces out of that race that went great and make the necessary changes the next time on things that you could have prevented.
4. Don’t pay attention to talkers.
They like to brag about how many miles they ran last week or today. Focus on the fundamentals and yourself.
How can you better your own training?
There is a big difference between wanting and doing.
People want to run a fast 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon. Training hard to make those objectives attainable takes a lot more doing.
If someone tell you they ran 100 miles …to him, who cares, the magic isn’t in the 100 miles, the magic is in you – Bill Bowerman, Legendary Oregon University Distance Coach
I coach myself now, but all of my knowledge I took and tweaked from some of the world’s top distance running coaches.
I thought I had all the answers when I was in my early teens, mid 20’s.
I still don’t, but I have become a better runner on account of coaches that gave a damn about me.
A coach will catch things you do that you don’t notice and suggest training methods that you never even considered.
6. Consume more iron rich foods and take a 65mg Iron tablet daily.
Foods such as spinach, nuts, red meat are all high in iron.
Far too many runners mistake their poor races or training on overtaining. It could very well be you are running low on ferritin.
The lower your body is on iron the less oxygen capacity it has to deliver to your muscles during training.
Guard yourself against this. Runners lose so much iron in sweat and foot strike hemolysis and women are at an even higher risk.
Yes, visualize your goal race. See yourself doing it.
When I was in college my coach, Jazk Hazen, would have us lay down and visualize our goal race for 15 minutes.
Billy Mills put it best,
The subconscious mind, cannot tell the difference between reality or imagination – Billy Mills, 1964 Tokyo 10,000m Olympic Champion (28.32)
Get your mind thinking for you and not against you.
Stressing causes muscle fiber firing capability.
You will run your best races in the future by letting go of stress, over thinking and overanalyzing pre-race and relaxing. Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest.
8. Be happy with small improvements.
Treat yourself out for a personal best. If it is a second improvement, it is a second faster then you have ever run.
Rejoice in the small improvements, because it is far harder to deal with a poor effort and no improvement at all.
What if your best was a 3.00 marathon and you ran 2.59. That is big and you have broken a time barrier.
Big improvements are wonderful but rejoice in any improvement, no matter how small it is and you will be happier and a more determined runner.
9. Practice race pace.
If your goal is to hold 6 minute pace for a half-marathon. You have to stress the systems of the body by running at a higher heart rate and gradually extending that distance over time.
It isn’t easy but the pain and struggles you had to endure in training will go away immediately and be replaced with you rejoicing at the finish line under the goal time because you trained hard.
Again, it comes down to harder running.
Anyone can run slow.
It takes skill to run fast and anyone can teach themselves to do it. It also takes skill to run slow when running slow is called for.
Running miles 1 to 2 minutes slower then goal race pace 90% of the week isn’t a wise attack plan for achieving a fast race result. Segment your training to work for, not against you.
Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast.”-Emil Zatopek – 5000,10000m and marathon Olympic Champion
10. Hire a strength and conditioning coach. I was fortunate to have been in a military unit that assigned me one.
There is so much I didn’t know when it came to how important strength and conditioning is.
My strength coach had me doing box jumps and sprinting on the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s campus ground dragging a weighted sled around my waste.
It was an eye opener being a marathon runner, but think how much better of a runner you would be by considering a strength coach?
You teach your body to utilize muscle fibers that otherwise would remain dormant had you not implemented your running with strength sessions.
11. Take a day off. How many runners have you known who have overtrained or just burned out because they were too caught up in getting that extra mile or two in for the week.
Train smarter, not necessarily harder. There does come a time when a day off should be mandatory. Listen to your body. It won’t lead you astray.
12. Test yourself in long runs.
One of Lisa Rainsberger, my pro coach for three years, favorite ways to torture me was to have me do a 20 mile run broken up with 4 mile segments at a moderate effort(5.45-6.10 pace) blasting miles 5,9,13,17 at 4.45.50 mile pace.
I do not advise doing this every weekend, but you will nail your race times if you practice running at or below your goal race pace.
You will teach your body to buffer lactic acid and clear it faster then it is building up and when you do that you will not experience the so-called wall.
13. Take it easy.
It is also just as important to back off when it is called.
Runners are already high strung characters. A non-runner who has the motivation to become one or wants to lose weight is just as lethal because of their desire.
Hunger and dedication is far more sexy, then talent alone and cannot be measured by any exercise physiologist or Vo2Max test conducted in some laboratory.
14. Think Big.
Don’t look at other runners and discredit yourself or what you can do. What runner X ran last week should not be your concern.
Focus on what you can do to match it or better your personal best time.
You always have to be thinking about your goals. If you go out and miss the mark, dust your shoulders off, take a deep breath, regroup and move on to the next race, workout, day of training.
How can you implement what the best do to get you to the next level? Be patient. This isn’t an overnight success sport.
15. Seek balance in your running.
Too often we get caught up in paces we want to run, times we want to hit, race efforts we are seeking and lose joy in the sport.
I did a 20-mile run last last year in 1.50.02, a 5.30 per mile pace totally by myself. How do we get in those zones?
I personally think it is when you take your mind off all the underlying meaningless BS we heap on ourselves and just get lost in the beauty of the effort itself.
16. Study the Martial Arts.
This is certainly not a piece of advice I am sure many distance runners are giving out but truth is, you can learn a lot from the martial arts.
I took Tae Known Do for 2 years and it taught me the importance of relaxation, harnessing the power of the mind and achieving results by way of relaxation and focusing on what you want. This documentary of Steven Seagal is one of the best examples of this.
Bruce Lee and Steve were two (and still are) of my biggest inspirations growing up. Their razor sharp attention to their gift is equal to a multitude of distance running tips that can help any runner cut drastic time of their personal bests.
It is powerful because anyone can train themselves to have that type of dedication. It takes patience not to lose hope when results don’t come as fast as we would like them to and this is where relaxation and focus comes into play.
17. Find a mentor, coach, friend or support structure.
Find someone who is going to nurture your dream and hold you accountable for it. My wife holds me accountable and gives gentle reminders to me of time goals I want to achieve all the time. You ever hear that saying, misery loves company?
Keep the right attitude and faster times and positive people will be attracted to you.
Surround yourself with those types of people!
18. Write your goals down.
Writing your goals down on paper may not seem like much but you have creating energy.
Michael Hyatt in his article, 5 Reasons Why You Should Commit Your Goals To Writing, lists 5 important reasons why writing down your goals should become a priority for your training routine.
I will let you read them but I think out of the five, the second reason is most powerful, it will motivate you to take action.
A goal written down where you can see it everyday forces you to think about and visualize what it is you want. It is one of many distance running tips that I know works and will help you in your quest.
19. Let go of the past.
This is easier said then done but if it is not a happy, powerful, empowering memory then why give your mental energy to it?
Think of the the great efforts you put up in training, workouts and races that are coming up that you are going to achieve and surpass.
Don’t waste your time on a bad race that you can’t bring back. Look ahead to all the great efforts you are going to put up in the future and put your focus there.
20. Take the time to thank those in your life that care about you.
We don’t achieve anything in this sport alone. There is someone, whether a close friend, co-worker or family that have helped all of us along the road.
Is it your spouse who took the time to rub your aching feet after a long run? A family member who bought you a case load of gatorade or bottled water knowing how badly you would need it after that track workout?
A friend who took the time out of their day (for free!) to drive their car beside you as you were running a solo 20-miler at 6000ft? I certainly know I have and I am indebted to them all for it. Take the time today to thank someone in your life for helping you become a better runner.