With the Spring Track Season beginning this week, I feel obligated to talk about ways to become a better distance runner. Throughout years of practice, I’ve learned many techniques to running. Being a distance runner, you’re trained to keep going no matter what happens. So here are 7 ways to become a better distance runner.
1. Consistently Run
If you’re a runner, you know once you stop running, building up stamina again isn’t easy. Though if running is something you love, you wont stop. And although running every day isn’t something for everyone, you can’t give up. I run all year long, and if I skip even one day, I feel like I’m missing out on a week’s worth of running. Sometimes, you don’t have a good week, and you might miss out on exercise. No matter how bad your week is, keep running! Running lightens your mood, and no matter how much effort it takes to get up off that couch, it’ll only benefit you in the end.
2. Good Form
Distance running is all about form and stamina. Always stand tall and relax your shoulders when running, and keep your head up looking straight ahead. Lean from your ankles, not your waist. Bending forward can slow you down. Putting too much pressure on your feet and stepping too hard can hurt you. So, land heal to toe, gently. The lighter you are on your feet, the better. Raise your knees high and stride wide. And most importantly, arms. The less arms you use the better. Keep your arms low with your fists clenched. Let them stay by your side but pump far back. But most importantly, focus on your legs, they’re doing all the work.
3. Get the Right Shoes
Shoes are everything! With the amount of running distance runners do, technically you should be buying a new pair of trainers every 6-8 months. An important tip for buying distance shoes is don’t look for style, look for stability. Shoes that feel like they’re barely there are often better when running long distance. Also, your shoes should fit your feet well. Having secure shoes gives you one less thing to worry about when running.
4. Eat Right
Maintaining a healthy diet while running is key. Now, this doesn’t mean to stop yourself from eating junk; it just means don’t overload on it. It’s all about moderation. Running takes a lot of energy and burns a lot of fat and carbs, so you need to expand your food groups. Along with protein, simple sugars and fat, eating carbohydrates will help you sustain energy. The more you run, the more you need to eat to maintain good health and muscle strength. Fat and proteins can fuel you but since your body works harder to turn them to energy, carbohydrates will work faster to energize you for longer.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Although electrolyte-filled drinks are great, water is always the best. As a distance runner, it’s important to always stay hydrated. Before a race and after a race, drinking water will help prevent difficulties. Waiting until your thirsty to drink could be too late to cure dehydration, and drinking too much could make you too full. Remember, not only does drinking water benefit you for running, it helps keep you alert and healthy.
6. Don’t Limit Yourself to Running
Most runners don’t realize there are a variety of exercises beyond running that still benefit runners. It’s called cross fit! Though running does work out almost every part of you, there are so many more options. Building muscle will help you become a better, stronger runner. Strength training is important. Lifting weights is something to consider as a runner, to build muscle in your upper and lower body. No-impact cardio is just as important, too. Riding a bike or going on elliptical is something to also consider.
7. Dedicate Yourself
Running is about giving it your all. It’s going to hurt, but look past it. Always stretch for a solid twenty minutes before a good run to prevent any muscle strains or injuries. Stay determined and maintain good endurance. Run with your heart and your mind, then your legs will follow. When running distance, giving up shouldn’t be an option. Distance runners are the strongest, because people may be able to run faster than you, but you can definitely run for longer!
These are just a few things I’ve learned to become a better distance runner. The most important thing about running is to love it, because it’s always worth it in the end. What are some things you think make a good distance runner? Enjoy the running season and good luck to everyone!