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Dæhlie 36526 September

How to become a better runner

How do you plan your training for long distance running? Short and fast or long and calm? Most avid runners go for both.

You’re running on a regular basis. Maybe you’re building up for a specific event. In any case, if you want to become a better runner with greater endurance, planning is essential. The principles are simple for both long and short runs: Do different exercises and keep up the good work.

Ask Didrik Hermansen, a top runner in international all terrain ultra-competitions, and he’ll tell you that the three most important factors in becoming a better runner are “Continuity, continuity, and continuity.”

If your week’s schedule gets too tight for variation, he advises skipping the short runs and going for the long distances.

It is logical. Hermansen does distances of 80-120 kilometers in international runs. To be able to keep the highest possible speed for several hours, he has to build up his running musculature. However, it is equally important to teach your body to quickly transform fat into energy. This also goes for half and full marathon runners.


Continuity, continuity, and continuity.

Didrik Hermansen

If you are a reasonably fit person, your stored carbs should last about 90 minutes. Fat, on the other hand, is an inexhaustible source of energy. Long distance training develops your body’s ability to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. Longer distances also develop the muscles’ endurance and your mental capacity.

Remember that “long” does not only mean distance. Many runners are preoccupied with logging a specific number of kilometers, however it takes longer to cover the distance on trails and in hilly terrainr. The terrain decides the speed, so be sure to put in the right amount of time.

Here are key factors for systematic running practice:

1. Low intensity long run

Long runs of more than 90 minutes should be done at a “talking pace.” When you are comfortable with longer distances, you can add faster part at the end of the run, but only every fourth long distance session.

Towards the end of a run, your body will be running on empty and has to learn to find alternative fuel. This increases the burning of stored fat. Everyone that has done a marathon agrees that after 30 kilometers it is common to hit the wall. Long distance training prepares you to overcome that.

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With the right running gear you can keep motivated, warm and comfortable regardless of the weather conditions.

2. Quality training

These sessions don’t last very long, but they have features of high intensity with short breaks in between. Take intervals, for instance. To have maximum effect from interval training, the total duration of the session should be at least 12 minutes, not counting pauses. This could be 4x3 minutes of uphill running, strength training, suppleness and speed.

If you only do three sessions a week, then one or two of them should be moderate quality training year round so your body has time to recover between sessions. If your schedule is for four to seven runs a week, you should not exceed two quality sessions per week and not do all the sessions all year round.

NOTE: Many people do intervals incorrectly, withg too much intensity. Start out at a controlled intensity, and rather do the last interval faster. When finishing the session you should have the feeling you could do one more. You should not end up wasted on the couch.

3. Speed games

This is an effective and entertaining form of training. Increase or decrease the speed according to your day’s condition and the trail you are running. You might get the urge to “attack” an uphill stretch or sprint towards the next crossing. With strength and experience, the flow of speed games gets easier to find. You’re not supposed to exhaust yourself, become winded or feel uncomfortable. Just pick up your pace at times, and lower it afterwards.

For beginners or those recovering from injuries, speed games can mean switching between running and walking. If you like short and calm runs, you may also end the session with a few speed games. That is sure to wake up your muscles.