One of today’s popular sports is distance running. This popularity could be attributed to the fact that the sport does not require much in terms of gears (running clothes and shoes) and in terms of athletic qualifications (you just have to know how to run).
You may have read and known from people that distance running promotes good health, is fun, and can be a source of popularity if you have a talent for long races. There are other good reasons for training to be a distance runner. The reality though is that distance running is hard.
The first hurdle is your mind. An untrained body will resist any exercise. Breathing is hard, the muscles ache. You get tired. All reasons are there for you to stop. With a tough mental attitude, you can continue and overcome them.
The secret? Start slow.
You may find your lungs will complain at first. But as you continue, the breathing eases up. The stiff and sore muscles eventually relax. This is the ‘second wind’. Keep the pace slow at first. You are not just training, but building your muscle strength as well.
First, pick a distance not far and not too long either. Of course, first runs are always disastrous, or so you may think. Do the runs three to five times a week, with rests in between. Then, you can progress on your own, or with a running consultant. Running with a companion makes it more fun, too.
Your sports store clerk can help you choose your clothes. More important though are good shoes. They should be made for running, must fit well, and do not cause injuries.
Avoid “black toes”, those bruised toenails common to runners. Pick a shoe size with about a thumb’s space between your toe and the shoe’s end. If there is heel slippage, experiment till you get the correct one.
Distance running needs specific nutrition. Carbohydrates are on top of the list. These are for stocking glycogen needed for strength and endurance. A good helping in proteins would be needed too if your body still need to build strong muscles.
Distance runners must have carbohydrates during the run. (Carbohydrates drinks are now available.) Lack of carbohydrates results in low blood sugar and low muscle glycogen which would weaken endurance leading to muscle fatigue.
Water, lots of it, is also needed all the way. Make it a habit to drink fluids (water and those power drinks) every 10 to 15 minutes, notwithstanding whether you are thirsty or not. Body fluids are constantly depleted, dissipated via sweat as you run.
When you become strong and comfortable with your running, you may want to increase the distance. Do it gradually. The rule is to increase not more than 10% every week.
You may begin increasing your speed, too, if you reach two miles. This is the time where you can set long-term goals. Goals will help improve your game and keep you going.
Your final goal might be running long distances or whatever are your ambitions. The very important aspect to remember is to go for that goal one easy step at a time, and the slower the better.
You have to pace your mind with your body. Bodies are different from person to person.
Aside from a good pair of running shoes, another valuable tool is a detailed training log. There are examples on how to do this everywhere. The important thing is that you record all the details of your running (pulse rates, distances covered, rest days, dates of changes in anything, comments on being tired or achy, etc.)
The log is for your review as well as for planning future activities, based on all the details in front of you.
The log is done daily.
These are some of the general things to keep in mind if you decide to do distance running. The details you will discover later as you go – from friends and coaches, from magazines, books and the internet. The most important thing is that you are already in it and enjoying yourself.