How to prepare for long distance running – top tips from Sweat It PT, Jamal Kurdi

Long distance running is no walk in the park, it takes training, hard work and dedication. Here's Jamal's top tips for maximising your training

Jamal-Kurdi-Sweat-ItJamal Kurdi, PT at boutique training studio Sweat It

Jamal Kurdi is a personal trainer at Sweat It, a boutique training studio that incorporates treadmill interval training alongside functional strength and conditioning training in Aldwych, London. Jamal is passionate about boxing, yoga, running, strength and conditioning training, football and swimming. While he’s never stepped up to complete a full marathon, he has competed in many long distance running events, including approximately 10 half marathons throughout his running career. His proudest and fastest long distance run to date was The Bath Half Marathon in 2015 where he clocked an impressive 1hr 20m and a 10km split time of just 38 minutes. Here he’s given us some top tips on how to prepare yourself when undertaking long distance running.

What is long distance running?

Long distance running can be considered any distance from  5km/10km all the way up to a half marathon or full marathon. Whatever the distance, setting realistic benchmarks for time and pacing yourself accordingly will help tackle what lies ahead. In preparation for a race it is important to commit to running a set distance several times a week, usually between half and three quarters of what you will run on race day.

Focusing on the following tips will help to build your confidence and get you ready for long distance running in no time:

1. Plan ahead

Find a set route near where you live that you can  use to help you track distances visually. I am based in South London and my local park has a lake, where one complete lap is 1km. This helps me keep track of my progress, my speed and I’m more aware of how my body is feeling at different stages of the run. Familiarity will help you stay relaxed during your run and allow you to focus on your breathing, your technique and even sing along to your favourite tracks. If road running stresses you out, my advice is to find a park and build your own mini race track. Increase your distance gradually, be patient and make sure to take rest days and stretch regularly.

2. Use technology

Using an application like ‘mapmyrun’ or ‘Fitbit’ to track your pace will give you real time feedback on your speed and split time. This will allow you to build a database of every run you complete, giving you the opportunity to reflect on your progress and piece together days where you felt sluggish and the days where you felt you performed stronger. As you build your stamina and endurance you can start to track your increase in pace and, when you feel ready, your distance.

3. Think about your nutrition

By tracking your performance and how you feel during your runs, you can start to draw links between what and when you eat and how strongly you performed. I, personally, like to run on very little or no food first thing in the morning as I feel lighter and more at ease. I also tend to be more motivated knowing that after my run I have a big post workout meal to tuck into! If you opt for the morning run make sure have a meal rich in carbohydrates the night before. If I am feeling in need of a little snack before my morning run, a cup of coffee and small slice of toast with peanut butter does the job.

4. Hydrate

Staying hydrated prior to and during your run will directly impact your performance. In the days leading up to a long run drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids. For shorter distances (less than 60 minutes), consuming a cup of water every 20 minutes or so is adequate. For anything longer, a sports drink or gel is more appropriate to replace the electrolytes lost through sweating.

A few tips for race day:

From all the races I have competed in I always run faster on race day. The atmosphere and all the other runners always helps push you faster than those lonely mornings in the park. Staying close to runners that are of a similar pace or ever so slightly faster than you is a great way of keeping you on track for a great time.

You might find a music playlist that is a similar length to your 1km or 1 mile pace, and you could use that as a mental checklist to know how far you have gone and how far you have left.

Whatever your method to get you through race day, rest assured you have trained hard and be proud of your progress.

To find a running event near you, short or long distance, check out our Events Calendar.

Sam Walker
the authorSam Walker
Sam is a regular gym goer who loves a strong spin or step class. Her main fitness goal is to tone up and be a healthier / fitter version of herself.

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