If you are new to the sport of long distance running welcome to a fantastic way to stay in shape and challenge yourself.
Long distance running is an art form. Society says you have to run fast to create art.
This isn’t always the case. You create art by committing to your own individual goals without wavering from your goals.
It is beautiful to see the Kenyan athletes running flawlessly in a marathon as if they are on autopilot but running fast does not make one athlete more worthy then the next.
I’ll be discussing a few fundamentals all long distance running enthusiasts must keep in mind to enjoy the sport that they love and run their best.
It isn’t Just About The Accolades
We as runners spend a great deal of time worrying if we have done enough work.
We worry sometimes that our best days are behind us, if we will measure up to the competition.
The moment we take our mental focus on performance away from the performance itself is, ironically, when we seem to perform at our highest levels.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi termed the word, ‘flow’, that moment when everything goes right.
We are in an effortless state of mind where time and our pace seems to speed up yet we feel effortless, no pain.
A common error runners make is over thinking the process. The focus is on the end result, the event.
Our society seems to glamour over the former and disregard the latter that took to get to the achievement.
We salivate over the great performance yet don’t seem to focus on the enormous commitment and time it took to make that achievement a reality.
It is the process, the patience to see your fitness goals through and believing in delayed gratification, where the real power lies and the truly successful understand that well.
The point is to always be yourself, follow through on your goals and have fun in the process. Have the patience to see your goal through until you complete it.
Don’t expect it to be easy. If it were so everyone would be doing it but you can do it well and create a masterpiece through your diligent training.
Mileage Is Overrated
I was coached for three years by the last American female to win the Boston Marathon.
Her name is Lisa Raisnberger.
She changed my life and helped me break the 2.20.00 marathon barrier but it was a change in training philosophy that created a lasting impact on my running career.
Runners are already very dedicated individuals. We come from different backgrounds and have different goals but we realize that it takes dedication to achieve them.
They won’t fall in our laps and running is a sport that demands respect for that very reason. Running high mileage doesn’t always yield the results we desire.
Quality vs Quantity
Runner A has a goal to run a marathon at 8.30 mile pace and chooses to run 80 percent of his or her weekly mileage at 85 percent of their maximal effort with the last 20 percent at a comfortable effort.
This individual is running 60 miles per week
Runner B has the same goal but runs 120 miles per week, yet only 20 percent of his or her weekly mileage is comprised of running at or below their goal race pace.
Which runner do you believe will reach their goal more efficiently?
It is safe to say the runner who trains at and practices their goal race pace more often will get to their objective faster and more efficiently.
They have trained their bodies to withstand the build up of lactic acid and have trained in a way where their bodies are able to still convert it to energy at higher efforts.
Form A Smart Plan
Strategize what will work for you and highlight the areas of your life or things you have done in the past that have hindered your athletic performance.
Could it have been lack of sleep?
Were you staying up too late while still juggling a full-time job and running over 80 miles a week.
We’re you practicing taking in the proper amount of fluids conducting your long runs on the weekends?
Was the same results happening in your races?
A strong, well-written long distance running training schedule that fully explains all aspects of what you are doing and why you are doing it will set you up for success.
Seek that out and you will run faster, more efficiently and will be able to react in races to any move your competitors throw at you.
Training Should Always Be Harder Then The Race
Do you ever look at the Kenyans and wonder how they can look so relaxed at the start line, smiling and in a good mood and look the same way in the race?
There is a reason for that.
Their training is so demanding that once they get to the race, they have tapered so much of their weekly mileage that they can run much faster and for a longer periods of time.
They are rested and therefore their muscles are more fully stocked with carbohydrates and are less fatigued.
Train hard, win easy is their motto.
I have lived and trained with them for the past 23 years and can tell you from experience that they are normal people with extraordinary drive and commitment to their goals.
Find What Motivates You
Your goal may not be to run as fast as an elite Kenyan.
The fact that you are making the attempt to do something that is hard will give you the focus and drive to get through the ebbs and flows of training.
It isn’t an easy sport. Losing weight is hard and it isn’t always easy to go out in bad weather conditions when you are training for a 5K to marathon race.
You have to find what brings you alive.
What instills in you the want to get out the door at 4am in the morning while your friends and family are still sleeping?
There is a great quote by Minister Eric Thomas that has had a powerful impact on my life.
“When you want to succeed, as badly as you want to breathe, then you will be successful”
How many times have you asked yourself that question?
If you have a goal of running the half marathon in under 2 hours, have you done the work to create that reality in your life?
Do you want to break 20 minutes for the 5K?
What can you do for the next 8 weeks to make that goal come to fruition?
Practice Your Goal Pace
This is a technique any athlete, regardless of ability level, can practice and create long-lasting results from.
Runners sometimes self-sabotage themselves into believing they don’t have the capability to hit a specific time goal that may seem impossible to them.
What it takes is a change in the way we train and in our mindset.
If the athlete seeks to run a marathon at 7 minute mile pace but is conducting long runs at 9 minute mile pace how is that bringing the athlete closer to their goal?
So it isn’t simply the desire that gets athletes to their goal.
There are many runners who have enormous potential in their chosen distance but far too many are training too slow.
What will separate you from the rest of your competition?
Easy Days Vs Hard Days
Results come in long distance running over time but they come more efficiently to athletes that have trained in that manner.
There is a place and time for easy running and that is to build fitness, burn fat and recover from the hard workouts.
We as runners cannot continue to run hard day in and day out and expect to get a return on our investment.
The fundamentals have to be followed and that is knowing when to push and when to back off.
When to attack the workouts and challenge ourselves in tempo runs, long interval track workouts and long, sustained long runs and when to jog to recover on easy days.
This is but a short list of brief fundamentals you can use to keep our training into perspective so that you get to the finish line in top shape and mentally sharp to run your best. Please visit us if want to read more about distance running tips, you’ll be glad you did!