Some running techniques for long distance success have nothing to do with physical training.
Oddly, we spend so much of our time training physically that we neglect the mental side of training.
The name of the game in this sport is being surrounded by positive people.
Fortunately, most of us don't have a problem with that.
We have friends and family who support us.
People are rewarded for running fast times and those that don't measure up to what the groupies feel is a good time are ignored.
Groupies are the ones who like to sit back and talk about other runners who aren't competing with the best in the world. These folks will belittle world-record holders yet couldn't maintain one mile at the same pace these athletes can hold for 26 miles.
1. Focus on positivity
I like to think of these athletes as the know-it-all's.
They will hold nothing back in making your efforts feel worthless.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone makes you feel less of a person or an athlete simply ignore them.
Life is too short to let anyone take your mental energy away from achieving your goal.
Focus On Form
2. Practice running with a lower arm carry
One of the first things that usually occurs in racing is we tense up. There is a lot of wasted physical energy that occurs when we are not relaxed.
Have you ever been in a race and you can feel your arms and shoulders tightening? I have. The good news is you can consciously correct this while running.
Take a few seconds to remind yourself to relax, drop your arms, shake them if need be and then get back into your rhythm.
It is really difficult to change form.
Do what feels natural for you and stay relaxed. In addition to that, monitor the tension in your body.
Once you feel your shoulders riding higher than normal, drop your arms, relax and take a couple deep breaths.
Get back into your rhythm, stay focused and repeat positive words.
The sooner you get it over with the better but that doesn't mean you can't be more in control during a maximal effort.
Less wasted energy means you can spend more of it on the task at hand.
3. Incorporate strength training into your weekly training
I was fortunate to have had my own strength and conditioning coach while assigned to the Army World Class Athlete Program.
A few of the strength training techniques we used was medicine ball throws, box jumps, balancing drills, among others.
Our strength coach would also like to take the marathoners and make us drag a 75-pound sled on the 40-yard field in the back of the complex.
We used this drill to improve knee lift and sprinting capability.
You can assist the body in recruiting more fast twitch muscle fibers via higher intensity runs and workouts. Additionally, it takes strenuous aerobic capacity-type workouts running at heart rates above 175 beats-per-minute.
These are extremely hard efforts and unfortunately this physiological change simply doesn't occur running at relaxed paces.
Core work was also very important.
The core stabilizes you as you're running. Also, the stronger mid-section is the less fatigued you are going to feel at maximal efforts.
Plank workouts are great options to incorporate into your weekly training regimen.
4. Implement fartlek training into your training
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran of the sport nothing spices up training like a good ole fashioned fartlek session.
It keeps things interesting and that is why I like utilizing this running technique in my own training.
A few recent workouts I have used are…
12 times 2 minutes of hard running at 5.00 mile pace (12MPH) on the treadmill followed by 1 minute of easy running at 6.00 mile pace (10MPH).
I don't advocate spending too much time on the treadmill. Also, you will run much faster outside than on the treadmill.
If there is inclement weather you always have this second option.
I also like doing farlek sessions such as 60 minutes of 1 minute of hard followed by 1 minute easy running.
I got my first taste of this particular workout when I was attending Malone University in Canton, Ohio years ago.
Train With Better Athletes
A 2.10 kenyan marathoner that was living and training there introduced me to the pain of this workout. His name is Gilbert Rutto.
Needless to say, I wasn't strong enough at that time to maintain contact with him throughout the whole run. That being said, I was able to hang on for 40 minutes with him.
Farlek running is a great way to change up the monotony of doing tempo runs at a set pace or long, boring miles with no change in pace.
Additionally, they can teach the body to adjust to pace changes when you are fatigued.
That being said, that will make the biggest difference in your racing once you adapt to this running technique.
You most likely will encounter, if you haven't already, runners passing you.
Fartlek workouts will help you to react to whatever your competition throws at you.
Focus On Your Goal Pace
Practice your goal race pace
This is probably the most important of the running techniques for long distance running success in our sport.
The problem with this technique is that it is painful.
Plain and simple.
If you want to run a 5K at 8.00 mile pace you have to get to the point where 8 minute mile pace feels totally in control.
Regardless the race distance, practicing at speeds that exceed your goal race effort must be practiced.
How is this done?
You have to spend some time at 7.30 mile pace and absolutely must stress your body's energy systems.
This is where fartlek running can really be a useful tool.
Running at 10 seconds per mile slower than your goal race pace will build strength. That being said, you have to spend some time going much faster than you intend on racing
Adjust your pacing and force yourself out of your comfort zone.
It isn't easy but will pay huge dividends in the long-term.
There is no substitute for training at or below goal race pace.
Lastly, remember to have fun with this. Don't lose the joy of what you are doing over a failed workout or race. Remember some of the greatest success stories in any area of expertise was built on failure.
The greatest running techniques for long distance running success is not losing your enthusiasm when you fail. Take your easy days, easy. Relax about a missed run. You won't lose any fitness even if you took a week off from training.
Don't lose sleep over it. Your body will adapt to the training you place on it. Keep it simple, stay motivated and use these techniques.
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