5k’s, half-marathons, marathons, and even ultra-marathons and Iron Man races are among some of the most challenging tests that humans cant put themselves through. Physically, distance races require supremely adapted cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance systems. Mentally, these races require the type of discipline, resiliency, and focus that can only be attained through diligent training and dedication to accomplishing set goals. In this article, we are going to discuss some training methods that you can adapt to any variety of distances, and show methods that will lead to physical and mental improvements that will eventually lead to accomplishing whatever distance race you want to accomplish.
For any distance race, there are four primary elements that need to be strategically accounted for: base mileage, interval training, long runs, and rest and recovery. For any distance run, you should aim to get eventually build your weekly mileage up to about 2 times the distance you would be running on race day. For example, when running a marathon, the weekly mileage goal should end up around 50 miles ran per week. Ideally, you want to be breaking these miles into 3-5 runs throughout the week. One of these runs should be your long run, which should be the longest distance ran over the course of the week. The idea is to build this long run up over time so that you eventually close are close to running the full distance of your race as you get closer to race day.
Another key part to any running routine is incorporating interval, speed, and tempo training. Incorporating intervals are an excellent way to increase your aerobic capacity and make your average run feel much easier. Intervals are short repetition runs at a hard pace, followed by jogging or even walking at a slow pace. This type of run might look something like this: 1 mile job, 4x1 mile run at a hard pace, with 5 minutes of jogging in between, .5 mile cool down. Another great way to incorporate speed training is through tempo runs. Tempo runs are longer than an interval (anywhere from 2-10 miles) and are run at an aggressive, but sustainable, pace. These workouts serve as an effective way to train your mind and body to handle challenging paces for a long period of time.
Finally, it’s important to prioritize rest and recovery. Atleast 2-3 rest days should be implemented every week, and it is critical that get the proper nutrition, hydration, and caloric intake before AND after each run. Below is an imagine of an example program from Hal Higdon, one of the premier marathon trainers, that uses many of these elements. Try out a distance race, and see what you think! You will be amazed at just how rewarding they can be.