While there are risks to long distance running, there are many benefits as well. Not only is it a great way to exercise, but it can also help memory and even protect against cancer.
Training for marathons or even just for the health benefit of long distance running, there are three key things to be aware of and include in your training.
- Long slow distance runs (LSD) Training in LSD prepares the body for all forms of distance running. It builds endurance in the joints and muscles, making them ready for the more intense runs. Your heart and cardiovascular system adapt, opening your system while strengthening your heart to allow the muscle tissue to receive the oxygen it needs over an extended period of exercise. LSD also helps teach your body to store energy more efficiently as glycogen instead of fat so that it can be easily burned when needed.
- Interval Training As important as LSD is in a training routine, it’s equally important to change it up. Interval training is mixing the long slow distance running with faster, more intense training that focuses on greater speed and strength over the slow burn. Interval training not only helps strengthen the system and increase VO2 max, but it does it in a mere fraction of the time of LSD training. Interval isn’t about sprinting all out, but instead controlling the pace while pushing out of whatever your comfort level is.
- Building Lean Muscle Training your body to run over long distance requires to do just that: run. However, if you want to focus your body on building the necessary muscle and tone that you’ll need, hitting the gym 4-5 times a week enters the picture. Due to the frequency of the workouts, it’s necessary to allow them to be shorter for the sake of recovery. Going too hard, too long, too often can often lead to injuries, or at the least a heavy fatigue that can make it impossible to work out. While running helps your body’s efficiency of motion as it learns to propel itself as easily as possible, compound movements use a range of muscles and helps build muscle efficiently. These include overhead presses, squats, and deadlifts
While training, keep an eye on any areas of the body that may be lagging due to lack of focus. Isolation movements can help build up those specific areas that can be hard to target with the normal regimen. Calf raises and bicep curls are good examples of these.
With a focused, fluid routine, balanced nutrition, and plenty of recovery time, distance running can be one of the most rewarding experiences while helping build a lean body capable of some of the greatest feats of endurance.
Kevin Jones is a freelance writer, researcher and fitness instructor/consultant. He had helped hundreds of people find ways to become more fit and healthy through a balanced life focusing on an individualized approach to their nutrition and fitness. In addition, Kevin has written extensively in the fitness and health industries, including writing for companies such as a ICON Fitness brand NordicTrack. Connect with Kevin online; LinkedIn – Twitter
Sources: Muscle & Fitness, British Journal of Sports Medicine