Distance running

Here is an article on distance running that Lucy co-wrote with fellow Personal Trainer at The Third Space, Jon Stratford, as part of a ‘Challengers Pack’ giving advice for fundraising events, for international charity War Child.

To train for long distance running you need to condition your muscles to be able to have the strength and stamina to withstand the prolonged impact and exercise. Preparing for a marathon or half marathon you need to start training from at least 6 months before, preferably building your conditioning training up gradually over 12 months in advance. For 10k’s and 5k’s, if you are not used to running you will also need to build up the distance and conditioning from 6 months in advance.

To start with:

Ensure you have the right shoes. Have a gait analysis done (at The Sweat Shop, The Marathon Store, etc.) and invest in a pair of trainers to suit the type of support your feet need.
Make sure you ALWAYS warm up thoroughly before training. This will help to prevent any injuries, by keeping the muscles supple and stretchy. It is also vital to warm down and stretch for at least 7-8 minutes afterwards.

Here are some key stretches, for the main muscle groups:

Hamstrings (back of the thigh) – with one heel placed down in front of you and the toes up, slowly lean your weight backwards and towards the floor.

Quadriceps (front of thigh) – stand holding one foot towards your bottom keeping the knees in line and push your hips forward.

Glutes – place one foot onto the top of the knee and sit back (with the knee going out to the side). You should feel this stretch across your bottom and outer thigh on the upper resting leg.

Calves – lean forward with one leg in front. The back leg should be straight with the heel pressing into the floor.

Chest – place your hands in the small of your back, palms against the body. Push the chest out and draw your elbows towards each other behind you.

Upper/middle back – hold firmly onto some bars/railings (around the gym or a park) and let your weight drop away and towards the floor, curving your back. If you slowly bend one leg and straighten the other, you should feel a stronger stretch on one side.

Resistance Training:

With regards to a weight training programme, look at doing movements to strengthen the body overall, especially the legs. Here is a sample programme to start with. Over time you can increase the weights, to challenge yourself further once you have adapted. Do not do so until you have done at least 6 weeks of the initial programme.
Here is a programme to use when beginning your training:

  • Squats x 12-15
  • Lunges onto bosu x 12-15 each side
  • Press ups x 10-15
  • Lateral step ups x 12-15 each side – slow and controlled movement, in both directions
  • Bent Over Row x 12-15
  • Clean and press x 12-15
  • Core Exercises:
  • Russian twist x 10 (left to right = 1)
  • Plank for 20 seconds +
  • Jack knife x 10-15

Alongside this go jogging outside as well as inside. Try some interval training also; where you work hard and run for a set time and then recover by jogging or walking. Repeat this for up to 10 minutes at first. You might start by doing intervals of one minute on, one minute off then decrease that to 30:30 seconds.

Nutritional tips:

Small changes can make big differences – in your energy levels and patterns, moods, etc. so try one or two of these at a time and compare (also make note of) any changes you notice. Then you know what helps or hinders for future training purposes.
These tips are to help your body run efficiently, with regards to metabolism and using energy:

  • Eat small meals regularly throughout the day, every 2-3 hours. Don’t skip the main meals.
  • Combine complex carbohydrates (wholemeal grains; pasta, rice, bread, couscous) and lean protein at each meal.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Always eat breakfast; it is the most important meal of the day. Your body has been deprived of nutrients and fuel for the hours you have been sleeping.
  • Avoid processed and refined foods.
  • Avoid/limit sugar and alcohol.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, in a variety of colours.

A good balance of the following: NUTRITION – TRAINING – SLEEP

  •  If you haven’t trained before or for a while get a health check from your doctor
  • Be progressive
  • Listen to your body; eg if your shins start to ache get them checked out!
  • Drink 250ml of water per 15 mins of training
  • Never run on a treadmill set at 0% incline always put it on a minimum of 2% to stop yourself from bobbing up and down
  • When running outdoors, wear layers so you can tie one around your waist if you start to heat up
  • Invest in a well fitting sports bra
  • Loose tops can cause nipple rubs so try Vaseline or specific running tops
  • Be safe and seen when running outdoors – wear reflective clothing especially at night
  • Know your route to avoid getting lost
  • Vary your route to avoid boredom
  • Grab a friend to train with
  • Think about wearing a hat and gloves in the cold
  • If running for over an hour carry a snack or sports supplement to keep your energy up
  • If running on roads, run on the right so that you can see the approaching traffic
  • Try and run off roads and pavements for as much of your training as possible
  • Have a look at a local map. There could be some great places to run a short drive or bus ride away
  • Have a look at joining a local running network
  • Most of all, enjoy your training!

Training routine example:
Mon – Hard run (30 mins at a level that you can’t talk at)
Tue – Circuit *See above
Wed – Medium run (45 mins at a level that you just talk at)
Thu – Circuit
Fri – Easy run (60 mins at a level that you can comfortably talk at)
Sat – Circuit
Sun – REST