How to train for long distance running

How to train for long distance running

Hallie Criste


Feb 19, 2019

Have you ever considered participating in a marathon, half marathon or even a 5KM run? It can seem pretty intimidating. What about 7 marathons, in 7 states, all in 7 days? Now, that just sounds crazy!

Jess Peil is participating in the 777 Marathon run for Bravehearts, the leading charity in Australia that helps educate, protect and empower children who have been sexually abused. She is committed to raising at least $50,000 but is hoping to reach a much higher goal of $100,000 – all in effort to make Australia the safest place in the world for children. Through this running journey and training program, Jess has compiled her top tips to help intimidated runners take that first step to sign up for their own challenge.

Whether you are planning to do a 100KM Ultra Running Event or wanting to build up to your first 5KM park run, utilise these principles from Jess to help you train for distance:

1. Smile when you run. I have learnt some basic principles to remain happy, both physically and mentally, while training for different distances and types of running styles. When you smile while you run, you can trick your body into enjoying it more. It may also brighten the day of those you pass along the way!
2. Invest in a good pair of running shoes. The type of shoe you get should depend on the type of running you do (trail vs road vs track). Have a professional fit you into a pair that suits your foot shape and the way you strike the ground. Having comfortable shoes will add so much enjoyment to your run as well as help prevent injury.
3. Build appropriately. Some of the best advice I received regarding training for an event was “you don’t have to run a marathon in training, in order to race a marathon.” If you push yourself too hard too soon, you’ll likely burn out or end up with an injury. Neither are fun, and you won’t enjoy the journey.
4. Begin by training 3 times a week (regardless of what distance you want to race!). This may sound like it’s not enough if you are doing a half marathon or longer. However, if your sessions are balanced correctly, you will reach your desired distance.
5. 3 sessions per week includes one long run, one run with effort and one tempo run. Your long runs will gradually increase in distance or time, your efforts will become greater, and your tempo will get faster. There are so many great online running platforms such as ‘Savvy Fitness’ or ‘Upcoaching’. Google ‘running programs’ and find one that suits your desired distance and current lifestyle.
6. Maintain a weight-lifting routine. Building strength in your body is still super important. You’d be surprised how much upper body strength aids in your running and how much you use your arms, especially off-road!
7. Stop making excuses and get running!! Have no expectations. The first run is always the hardest – do not give up! Break the run down into manageable intervals. Run to a tree 500 meters away, walk for 4 minutes, then repeat. You’ll be amazed at how far you end up going. Next time run to another landmark that’s further away then walk for 4 minutes again. Use time as a guide rather than distance. Start small then work up, e.g. aim for 20min instead of 4KM.
8. Register for an event that is achievable. If it’s your first event, don’t lock yourself in for a crazy distance, you may end up disappointing yourself. Rather, set yourself up for success! Make that first race a sensible distance. Then, depending on the outcome, register for another race either the same distance or longer.
9. Look after yourself. Give your body time to adjust to the new lifestyle, have days off to stretch and relax. Days off are just as important as the days you spend on your feet.
10. Join a running group. Search the internet for a local group to establish some accountability and get inspired by those around you.

Whether you’ve mastered 1km or 100km, you are a runner. Enjoy the journey, stick to these tips and applaud yourself for even the smallest achievements.

Need some inspiration to get you out the door?
“Don’t be tired, just be awesome” – Angela Saville, Savvy Fitness Wollongong
“There are no shortcuts in distance running, you can’t hide a lack of consistency in your training come race day.” – Wes Gibson, Upcoaching

If you would like to donate to this cause, please click here. Any donation small or large counts and will help protect our children.