Best Distance Running Tips for Beginners

By Kristen May , last updated December 12, 2011

Beginning distance runners should follow several tips to get the most from their training. Running can be very hard on the body, so following these tips will not only help you to increase your endurance and speed, but also protect you from some of the most common injuries runners experience. The most important thing to remember when starting out with distance running is that you cannot expect to be able to run your goal distance right away. As you train, your body will become increasingly able to run longer distances.

Stretch While Warm

Take a break about five to 10 minutes into your distance run to stretch. This allows your muscles to gently warm up before you stretch and decreases the chance that you will strain a muscle while stretching it. In addition, you will get a better stretch if you wait until your muscles are warm, and this makes you less likely to pull a muscle when you increase your speed for the rest of the run. In addition, take a few minutes to stretch out again at the end of your run.

Add Walking Intervals

Rather than trying to run a long distance right away, put intervals of walking in your workouts to give your body a small break for recovery during your run. This allows you to get more mileage each day than you could without the walking. The length of your intervals will vary depending on your skill and fitness levels, and you should generally increase the running and decrease the walking as you get better. For example, if you are just starting out with running, you might run for 20 seconds, walk for 40 seconds, and repeat this for a total of 20 minutes per day. More experienced runners might run 15 minutes and walk or slowly jog for 2 minutes as a recovery time.

Gradually Increase Distance

Count the number of miles you run each week and aim to increase this by no more than 10 percent each week, or 2 miles per week if you start at a very small weekly distance. For example, if you start out running 10 miles per week, go up by 2 miles each week until you hit 26 miles per week. Then increase it by 3 miles each week until you hit 35 miles, and so on. This allows your body to adjust to running longer distances and keeps you from putting too much strain on yourself.

Use Rest Days

Your body was not made to run long distances every day, so incorporate rest days into your running schedule. In general, you should run three to five days per week, rest completely at least one day each week and cross-train on other days. For example, you might bike or swim to use other muscles and give your body a break from the high impact of distance running. If you have a long-distance race in your schedule, use a rest day or a day with a very short run just prior to the race.

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