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11th June 2019

Long Distance Running Tips

In light of Mr Pisal’s recent Ultra Marathon, we asked our fitness ambassador, Ellie Baker, for some tips on long distance running. 

  • What are the challenges of long distance running? 

The challenges of long distance running are both mental and physical.

On the mental side it’s about being able to keep your focus for the duration of the race. It won’t be easy and your mind might tell you it’s too much but you have to keep your mental strength and remind yourself of why you’re doing it!

On the physical side, your body will ache and your legs will feel heavy but you have to remind yourself you’ve done the training for it, you’ve felt this uncomfortable feeling before and to keep pushing though! 

  • How long does marathon training usually take?

 12 – 21 weeks depending on the level of the athlete (beginner- elite) 

  • What are the key things to think about when planning for a race like the Comrades marathon? 

1) Look after your feet. Blisters and other foot issues can bring your race to a stop.

2) Strengthen your quads. Most ultras take place on hilly terrain, which means your quads have to be strong to take the ups and downs of the hills.

3) Practice before the event. Test out your kit and equipment well in advance to ensure you’re comfortable with it and so you know what works for you and what doesn’t. This includes socks, leggings, technical shirts, gels and more.

4) Plan your recovery in advance. Once you have finished the race, it is important to fuel the body with carbs and protein within 20 minutes of crossing the finish line as that is the best time for your body to absorb nutrients that it will be crying out for after the race!

5) Refuel during training and while racing. While energy bars and gels can be beneficial for short ultras, longer events like Comrades should include snacks like jaffa cakes, sweets, bananas, rice pudding and potatoes, as they will fuel your body for longer.

  • What should runners do in the few days leading up to the race?

Taper down well before the race and reduce mileage over the last few weeks. It’s recommended to reduce mileage to 75% of normal, then 50% and finally 25% during the last week. You want to go into it feeling fresh and not fatigued!

  • What are some good things to consider while running the race? 

Break it down into sections, give yourself small milestones to reach as opposed to thinking about the whole distance of the marathon in one go. You’ll want to set yourself targets within the race so that it doesn’t seem so daunting.

  • How does altitude affect performance, and how should runners deal with this? 

A downside with altitude and endurance running is a drop in the oxygen content of your blood. Because of the reduced air pressure at higher altitudes, oxygen diffuses into your red blood cells more slowly. So because endurance races and runs are run at much slower speeds, this means the oxygen-deprivation of high altitude dominates, slowing you down slightly. Some people train in altitude chambers on treadmills to try and replicate the altitude and the feeling they will feel when competing at the Comrades Marathon.

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