Image of running coach Kim Clark outside wearing Shokz OpenRun wireless headphones
Image of running coach Kim Clark outside wearing Shokz OpenRun wireless headphones
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Training Tips For Long Distance Running Newbies

Are you training for a long-distance race but you’re not quite sure where to start? Runner and coach Kim Clark (also known as @trackclubbabe) is here to help! Get her tried-and-true training tips and prepare to clock a new personal record in no time. 

One thing I really love about running is that anyone can improve in this sport with patience and consistency!

If you want to experience amazing progress in your own running, here are the things you need to be successful–

Tip 1: You have to form Habits! 

So many people get motivated to run, start off strong, and fizzle out after a short season and eventually end up saying, “I tried to be a runner once…” But you don’t have to do this! We are all motivated by something, but motivation wavers early in the morning or after a long day at work. You have to develop habits of getting out the door regardless of your present feelings, on days when you just don’t feel like it. Habits and schedules form consistency and generate progress. Once you’re out the door, you’ll snap back into motivation mode and that habit of getting out the door will be reinforced!

For general training, running at the same time and keeping a set schedule is helpful to stay consistent, BUT for relay training, you need more variety. You have no idea what time you’ll be running during a relay so it’s helpful to schedule some runs at different points in the day to get used to running at all different times.

Tip 2: Focus on Form! 

Almost all of us start running with poor form- even worse if you’ve been working a desk job or years of inactivity. Since all bodies are different, there’s no exact right way to run, but there are some universal ideas and drills to practice that will help anyone become a more efficient runner. And more efficient running means less injury, faster paces, more ease while running, and more enjoyment overall.

Tip 3: The #1 thing to start with to improve your form is Cadence!

The general standard of ideal running cadence is 180 steps per minute, but most runners have a much slower cadence than this. Cadence is easy to work toward improvement since it’s so tangible. No other form concept or fitness metric is as easy to count and track progress as your cadence. 

Tip 4: Work on your Speed!

Fast running develops muscular, aerobic, and cardiovascular strength. Developing a higher top-end speed will make all other paces feel easier and more comfortable, and make those paces faster. Running at your typical easy pace will feel more effortless so you’ll be able to run longer and enjoy it more!

Try running fast in short increments after a short warmup of easy jogging:

Example 1: 12x 10 second Sprint with 1 minute walk/slow jog rest

Example 2: 8x 30 second faster stride (not sprint)  with 1 minute jogging rest

Example 3: 5x 3 minute moderately fast run with 2 minute jogging rest

Tip 5: Learn how to Fuel!

What you use to fuel your body always matter to performance, but it’s even more important in a relay situation. You have limited time between runs to refuel and recover, so it’s essential to get in high-quality fuel that is easy on your stomach to maximize that time and be ready to go again! In training, learn what foods work well for you and just as importantly what foods do NOT work for you so you know what to avoid!

You may also need to fuel during runs. Use longer training runs to try out different gels and drinks so you can learn what you like and what makes you feel strong and fast!

Tip 6: Develop a strong Mental Game! 

Running is not all about the legs- so much of it is in your head! Becoming a strong runner mentally is the only way to become a strong runner physically. Your mind has to will your body before it can do anything! Learn how to be positive and hopeful throughout your training. Practice being confident and brave during workouts and races. Develop patience and diligence during injury.

Tip 7: The most impactful way to have a strong mental game is Positive Self-Talk. 

Speak what you want to accomplish & speak it into existence. Use mantras during workouts and races to remind yourself of your strength and ability. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Most of all, listen to those words you’re speaking to yourself and believe them, and don’t believe the negative things others will try to speak over you! You are a champion!

More Tips: If you are looking to do a running relay, like the Shokz Team will be doing at Hood to Coast– here a few tips:

  • Make sure that you run up to the distance of your longest leg so that you feel prepared going into it.
  • Practice fueling and know what you’ll want to eat between runs and during runs.
  • If you’re mostly training every other day, make sure to have a few times in training where you run 3 days in a row to get your body used to shorter recovery times.
  • Don’t let your gear be underrated. Back to back runs are a prime opportunity to develop blisters. Bring plenty of dry pairs of your favourite synthetic socks!
Follow Kim for more running tips on Instagram here.