How to Get Better at Long Distance Running


If you’ve never been a runner before, the idea of lacing up your running shoes and heading out for a five, seven, or double-digit mile run can seem quite daunting. Learning how to get better at running is a process–one that doesn’t happen overnight. However, with dedication and the right training plan and running tips, you’ll learn to excel at the sport and even fall in love with the cardio rush of running on a regular basis.

1. Get the Right Running Gear

If you want to get better at running, you need to invest in the right gear. While you don’t need to break the bank to be comfortable and efficient on the run, you do need some basic necessities. Here’s what to look for. 

  • The right running shoes. Don’t leave this up to chance. Visit your local running store and have a specialist look at how you run in different shoes. Try on several pairs and pick ones that feel comfortable and supportive. 
  • Running clothes. You’ve got to consider the weather and your comfort level. Everyone is different. For example, I like to wear shorts if it’s over 40 F outside because I know I’m going to warm up. If it’s colder out, I layer a shirt or two and wear leggings. Pick clothes that wick away sweat like dri-fit material. Experiment with what works for you. 
  • Sunglasses. Wear shades that fit snugly around your head but are comfortable. Pick a pair that has UV protection to protect your eyes and the surrounding skin area. 

2. Create a Training Plan 

Without a training program, you’re planning to fail. Whether your goal is weight loss, becoming a better runner, being more healthy overall, or completing a half-marathon or triathlon, you need to have a plan. Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Start slow. Don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 percent per week. This helps ease your body and muscles into running and reduce your risk of injury by not overdoing it. 
  • Join a running club. It helps increase accountability and you’ll learn a ton of training tips from more experienced runners, especially if you’re a new runner.  
  • Do a variety of workouts. Don’t get stuck in rut going the same pace and the same route every day. Incorporate some speed workouts, trail running, and longer runs into your training plan. Don’t forget to have one “easy” run per week, too. 

3. Eat Right

salad, fruits, and eggs

The best training regimen in the world goes to waste without proper nutrition. It’s the gas you put in your tank that fuels every run. So, if you want to get better at running, you have to treat your nutrition as important as your training runs. Here are a few helpful tips: 

  • Running regularly doesn’t give you permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Sure, you’re burning lots of calories, but a run that burns 500 calories is easily outdone by an 800 calorie, fat-laden cheeseburger. 
  • Fill your plate with green veggies, colorful fruits, and lean meats. Aim for whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and two to three servings of dairy per day. 
  • Everything in moderation. It’s great to eat 100% clean, but it’s also okay to indulge in sweets or nachos every once in a while. It makes it easy to stick to an overall healthy meal plan. 
  • Drink a LOT of water. It helps your body recover, prevents headaches, and most importantly, hydrates your entire body after a sweaty run. 

4. Incorporate Strength Training

woman running

Getting in regular runs is one thing, but strength training for your entire body makes you a better runner and reduces your injury risk. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on strength training, but 10-15 minutes two to three times a week can make a big difference. Here are a few tips: 

  • You don’t necessarily need to do an extra workout session to incorporate strength training–you can bring it right into your run. Break up your run by stopping for 30 seconds every mile or so and firing up those muscle fibers with 10-15 lunges, squats, or high-knee skips. 
  • Don’t forget about your upper body. You don’t need to get into heavy weightlifting to work your arms. Do bodyweight exercises like planks and push-ups. A simple 10-15 pound medicine ball is also great for upper body exercises. 
  • Make strength training part of your cool down. End your run with 10 minutes of planks, stretching, push-ups, squats, and lunges. A little bit goes a long way! 

5. Get in Some Cross-Training

Running can be tough on your body at times. Your lower body is taking on a lot of impact and stress with each stride, but it’s not the only cardio activity that can improve your running performance. Here are a few cross-training activities that you may enjoy: 

  • If you want to get in some cardio without the impact, try an elliptical training session. It replicates running without the pounding on your legs. 
  • Go to a spin class. It’s an excellent way to burn calories and work out your entire body without hitting the road or trail. 
  • Try yoga or pilates. While it’s not a high-cardio exercise, it’s great for flexibility, strength, mindfulness, and muscle-toning. 

6. Practice Self-Care

Living an overall healthy lifestyle is one of the most simple ways to become a stronger, happier runner. It’s not all about nutrition, training plans, and personal records. Here are some of the best ways to incorporate self-care into your daily routine: 

  • Meditate. Meditation is proven to lower stress, increase productivity, and make us happier, Plus, it only takes about ten minutes per day. Try a meditation app like Headspace or Calm to get started. 
  • Get in some downtime. In our fast-paced society, it’s tempting to feel like we need to be productive ALL THe TIME. Enjoy some time yourself whether it’s going to a movie, reading a book, or even taking the occasional nap. 
  • Remember, you don’t have to work out EVERY day. I like to take one day per week where I don’t run, go to a spin class, or strength train. It’s up to every runner how much time you take “off”–some people thrive on once a month and some like once a week. Just don’t forget to give your mind and body a break now and then. 

Are you ready to use these tips to become a strong, healthy long-distance runner? Let’s do this! Don’t forget to download our new mobile app for access to coaching advice, daily video workouts, injury prevention tips, and complete training programs that will help motivate and inspire your training program!