Running the distance: Want to run further?

Long-distance running requires significant training time, especially when you are looking to take the leap from fun runs to a more advanced style of the sport such as marathons.

A periodic exercise program designed by an Accredited Exercise Professional is the best way to ensure you’re gradually building up your long distance running and fitness safely, and minimise the risk of injury.

As a long-distance runner, the human body is required to utilise all muscles, joints, heart and lungs over what could be a few hours to complete the required distance. Your longer distance runs will be performed at a slower pace and therefore classified as an aerobic activity requiring the body to exert energy over a longer duration.

Accredited Exercise Scientist Beth Sheehan explains that from a joint perspective, running sends 1.5-3.0x an individual’s body weight through their body. This repetitive impact over a longer distance and time will potentially have long term affects if an athlete is not adequately prepared.

The extended energy demands on the cardiorespiratory, endocrine, and neuromuscular systems also affect the metabolic demands on the body.  It is therefore important to be mindful of your energy input and energy expenditure and the impact this can have on gut health and hydration whilst running for extended periods.


A good training program to assist in the prevention of injuries and serious health concerns will involve:

Use technology – movement trackers can help you assess your efforts or download a free app, such as the free Nike Running Club, that can provide you with guided, mentored runs.

Strength – Separate sessions to work on strength particularly leg strength (focusing on glutes and legs and core).

Stretching sessions – such as yoga to assist with flexibility.

Warm up – start your running slowly and build up.

Cool down – prevent stiffness by foam rolling, stretching – try this straight after when your body is warm or in the shower.

Footwear – ensure that you are wearing the most appropriate shoes for your feet.

Clothing – breathable is best.

Hydration and adequate fuelling – ensure you are able to drink water during long runs and take a gel with you especially if you are the type of person that has fluctuating sugar levels.



Constant pain

Listen to your body, if you are experiencing increasing pain or it doesn’t go away with rest, seek professional advice.


Ever gone for a run after taking a break and woken up as stiff a board the next day?

This typically means you either a) are not conditioned to run that far or hard and/or b) you did not undertake a significant warm up or cool down. This can be easily prevented with periodised training and an adequate warm down.

Spacing your training runs will also assist with appropriate recovery required to ensure your body is working at its optimised level.  Consult an appropriate marathon training program alongside an accredited exercise professional for best results.

Excessive fatigue

You will naturally be tired from longer runs but if training and eating appropriately for a marathon you should still be able to function during your daily household and work related tasks.  If loosing ability to focus, stay awake etc consult an appropriate health professional to ensure you are not over training.

Urinary issues or complications

If experiencing such issues during and post marathon training consult your doctor.

It may be worth purchasing a fitness watch or app. This will allow you to track figures such as heart rate to ensure you are always safe, when running.

Advice from a pro

Before you lace up your shoes, Nike Run Club coach Lydia O’Donnell provided Exercise Right some helpful advice for runners wanting to run further.

 How you should prepare for a long-distance run/what is important to remember?

Before heading out the door for a long run it is important you are well prepared for what is ahead. Focus on your nutrition and hydration leading into any long run. Be sure to be well fuelled to get through the long run, keep the pace on throughout and to make the most of your it.

Spend some time before the long run warming up. It is important that you allow the body to slowly warm up before hitting a long run so that you have activated the right muscle groups and created some mobility throughout the body. The ‘7 Minute Runners Warm Up’ on the Nike Run Club app is the perfect way to get the body ready for any run, but especially a long run.

Top tips for someone looking to take their training to the next level?

If you are in a position to step up your training and you are ready for a new challenge, there are a few steps to take to push your barriers.

1. Set a goal that is challenging but realistic. If you can create a goal, whether it is a distance or a pace, it will help you stay motivated throughout the training. Goals create a purpose and a purpose gives your training meaning. This will help to inspire you to keep going on the tough days.

2. Make sure your load increase is gradual. As you are pushing your training and increasing your running time each week, you need to allow time for your body to adapt and become conditioned to the load. Be smart with how much more distance or intensity you are giving yourself. If in doubt, reach out to a running coach who can provide you with advice on how specifically you can increase either, or both, in a smart and sustainable way.

3. Be sure to continue to give yourself easy days. With stepping up your running training it shouldn’t necessarily mean increasing how fast you run every single day. It is important to keep easy running days in your schedule for recovery. Rest and recovery are just as important as your training, so allow yourself to have 2-3 days throughout the week that you pull the pace back and allow the body to recover. If you can make your easy days easy, then you will find it more motivating to push it hard on your harder days.


Image by Matt Smith

Need guidance to run further?

 Consult an exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist prior to starting a training program, or if you are experiencing any pains whilst exercising.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started. 

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We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.