I’m not a long distance runner. I’ve always enjoyed running since Primary School – I had long legs and could run pretty fast on sports days or relays – but they were usually sprints where I could use a short burst of energy.
Long distance running is very different, you need to keep a steady pace, control your breathing and keep focused for a long time.
So, here are my top tips to help you rack up the miles:
- Invest in a good kit. I know they say, “All the gear and no idea”, but having the right kit really does help, you need lightweight running clothes, that will keep you warm or cool when needed. That also goes for a decent pair of running shoes, and they don’t come cheap. I visited Bourne Sports where they track how you run so your feet land correctly in the right pair of trainers for you.
- Measure yourself. When I first started, I just ran. I had no idea of how far or for how long. However, I soon realised that when I started to use a run training app which told me how far I’d travelled, how much better I’d done than before and how long it had taken me – I knew if I was making progress – you’ll also get a satisfying sense of achievement and pride when you beat your personal best.
- Join in. There are lots of running clubs and charity runs that take place in the city – whilst I haven’t joined an official “club” I have taken up going to parkrun (a free 5k run every Saturday in Hanley park) and I’ve signed up to Potters ‘arf to raise money for charity. Running in a big group gives you more determination to carry on and reach the distance. If you’re struggling, there will be people there to give you some encouragement and cheer you on too.
- Recruit a friend. I find running alone quite daunting and although I have ran a few times alone, I much prefer having someone to share the achievement with. They will also give you the encouragement to put on your trainers and get moving when you can think of a million excuses.
- When I started running I got very bad stitch whenever I ran, and it was because I wasn’t breathing correctly. I would try to struggle through the pain, but after I learnt it doesn’t go away – the only thing you can do, is stop, walk and breathe. Take your time and listen to your body. Nobody is going to judge you if you need to take a minute or two to catch your breath.
- Listen to a running playlist. I find that when I start to struggle on a run, I can put my headphones in and it gives me a burst of energy to carry on.
- Eat and drink properly. You need to consider how many calories you burn when you’re running long distance, and that you need the energy to keep you going further. I find that before a run if I eat a heavy meal, I struggle – however, I try to eat 1-2 hours before a run, and then have a banana just before for an extra boost. I drink water before and after a run, as much as I can to keep me hydrated because when I drink when I’m running, I tend to get a stitch. However, always take some water with you – just in case.
- Enjoy it. It might seem difficult, but try to relax and enjoy running. It’s a great way to give yourself time to think and get some fresh air. You’ll feel the benefit afterwards.
I’m not a nutritionist or an athlete by any means, but these work for me! Happy running – and if you fancy it, I’ll see you at parkrun next weekend.