Ask any runner, and they will tell you long-distance running is as rewarding as it is difficult. It is a common misconception that running is an “easy” sport due to its lack of complex rules or parameters. However, learning to push your body properly without injuring yourself or plateauing in your progress is extremely difficult and requires research and consistent training. Mitch Vanhille, an long distance triathlon athlete and avid runner, understands the hardships people experience when starting the sport. Vanhille, now a well-known distance jogger, started off his journey as an endurance athlete later in life, completing his first ever 17km trail running race at the age of 34. Vanhille hopes to encourage people of all ages to follow their passions, and never their age or inexperience get in the way of pursuing their dreams. Below, Mr. Vanhille will share his advice to any amateur athletes looking to get started in the sport of long-distance running.
When people start off jogging, they will start off by running a mile to 5 miles every day, for months. While there is nothing wrong with running the same distance each day, this will not help to increase a runner’s stamina or distance. While training comes with a large number of rules, and most athletes have their own system, there are a few “cornerstone” rules that every runner should know. First, you should increase your distance by 10% each week. If you are on week one and committed to running a mile, on week two, you should be running 1.1 miles. This will help prevent injury and keep training consistent.
When it comes to running a race, maintaining an even pace is key to achieving your personal best. Running too fast early in the race, even to break away from the crowd, will almost always mean a slower finish. Almost all the best racers that have won national marathons have had near-perfect pace for the entirety of their race. This can be incredibly difficult, especially for new runners who may not know their natural pace. Experiment with various distancing and see what your natural “per mile” is and try to maintain that pace while slowly adding on distance.
Marathons are, historically, something new runners often rush into. This is understandable, as a marathon is perhaps one the most significant and tangible goals within long-distance running. However, improper marathon training can result in serious injury, and for this reason, amateur runners must take the time to properly research marathon training. A comprehensive training plan will generally span 12-20 weeks before a race and build up to a long run that’s at least 20 miles. The training plan depends on personal fitness and experience level; however, it should at least incorporate speed runs, hills, and rest days.
“Train hard, Recover harder.” Taking your recovery as serious as your training is essential as you engage into endurance sports. Without going too deep, recovery includes, sleep, stretching, rolling, yoga, Pilates, meditation and yes also proper nutrition. Nutrition can aid or inhibit your recovery.
Always keep in mind “Growth = Stress + Recovery”. Finding the right balance means the difference between reaching a plateau or even worse, injury.