Long distance running is one of the most simple and satisfying forms of exercise out there. Finding the determination and commitment to run mile after mile is beneficial to both your physical and mental health.
But all those hours spent pounding the pavement can take its toll on your body, so it's crucial to be prepared. Whether you’re building up to your first 10km run or are a seasoned marathoner, it’s important to know how to prepare for long distance running. We’re here to help you understand the physiology of running, how to properly nourish your body, and how to choose the right gear for you.
Long Distance Running vs Sprinting
Generally speaking, long distance running can be considered anything that is over 3km (1.9m). From a 5km fun run to a grueling ultra-marathon, long distance runs are characterized by lots of time spent on your feet. Compared to the fast, explosive motion of a sprint, long distance running is often completed within a lower heart rate zone and at a fairly consistent pace.
With the extra time spent on your feet while running long distances, your gear and technique become more important than ever. Hours spent sweating into socks can lead to blisters, and an increase in step count puts you at higher risk for injuries caused by overuse.
While the technique for sprinting involves pushing off your forefoot and toes to gain maximum speed and power, forefoot striking can lead to overloading the tendons over long distances. Instead, a midfoot strike is the ideal way to manage your cadence and center of gravity. And remember to avoid heel striking - this can double your risk of repetitive stress injuries!
Nourish and Hydrate Your Body
When running long distances, you can expect to sweat a lot and to burn a lot of calories. This means that you’ll have to really focus on nutrition and hydration to replenish what your body is using up during activity.
Sweat is a normal part of exercise, and is designed to cool the body down during physical activity. But to avoid dehydration, it’s important to replace all that liquid that you sweat out during a run. Make sure to drink plenty of water the day before a long run, and then aim for 5-10 fl. Oz (a few long sips) every 15-20 minutes.
And as well as the liquid, it’s important to replace the salts that are lost through sweat. Also known as electrolytes, these salts are necessary for muscle and brain function. Sip on a sports drink or add an electrolyte supplement sachet to your water bottle (though be aware that many brands have a lot of added sugar!)
To fuel your body for long runs, it’s important to include enough carbohydrates in your diet. Carbs are converted to glycogen, which is then stored in your muscles as fuel. Try to eat a balance of whole grains (e.g. bread and pasta), legumes (e.g. lentils or beans) and starchy veggies (e.g. sweet potatoes) alongside healthy proteins and fat.
Wear the Right Running Gear
Long distance running can affect your entire body, but you’ll likely feel it the most in your feet and legs. To prevent discomfort and injury it’s important to have the right running gear, including the proper shoes and socks.
Every runner will have a different preference when it comes to factors such as support, heel cushioning, flexibility and shoe weight. A good running store will be able to assess your gait and make recommendations for your unique stride. Proper arch support is a key factor that will help keep your body in alignment, relieving pain from issues such as overpronation, plantar fasciitis, shin splints or Achilles tendonitis.
And just as important as your shoes are the socks that you wear with them. The factors of a quality running sock include moisture-wicking fabric to prevent blisters, cushioning to absorb the shock of repetitive impact, and compression to provide support and improve circulation. To keep cool and dry during city runs, try a thermally balanced fabric such as CF2, or try a slightly taller sock in moisture-wicking Isolwool for those long trail runs.
Make Your Next Long Distance Run a Success
When it comes to long distance running, your preparation is just as important as your endurance. By understanding the physiology of running, fueling your body with nutrients, and using the right gear, you will prepare yourself for success and prevent the risk of injury.As you gear up and learn how to prepare for long distance running, Fitsok is here to support you. With technical fabrics engineered for athletic endurance, Fitsok’s range of men’s and women’s socks will keep your feet dry, supported, and comfortable mile after mile. Invest in your foot health by choosing performance running socks.