An Overview of Distance Running

An Overview of Distance Running

By Brian Hsia

The New York City Marathon training cycle is almost here. Many runners trying this out for the first time will start in the month of June.  Beginner distance runners who dreamed of running a marathon will get their chance to prove to their families, friends and loved ones that they can conquer the large feat and claim the title of being called a marathoner. 

When we think about the words distance running, many of us think about the torturous ways in which high school coaches made you and your teammates run around the perimeter of a field as a warm up or penalization tactic. 

But little did you know that as you grew older, you would do it more to challenge yourself, keep in shape or even, dare I say, as an enjoyment factor!

Many people derive running coming from two parts: sprinting and distance.

Watching the Olympics where you see the different events such as the 100 meters to the 10k and even the marathon, we think back at the very first thoughts of how distance running was derived.

It was the ancient Greeks, who most famously used running messengers for their long-distance running.  Pheidippides, the most important (according to legend) ran from Marathon to Athens, to announce the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.  According to legend, he collapsed and died, after delivering the message of the Greeks “winning.”  In order to complement the first Olympic Games in 1896, the first Boston Marathon was only 24.8 miles.  In 1908, when the Olympic Games were in London, Queen Alexandra reportedly requested the race start on the lawn of Windsor Castle and finish at the royal box of the Olympic Stadium.  The distance between those two points?  You guessed it!  26.2 miles or 42.195 KM, the modern day distance running for the marathon.

The four pillars of distance running

When you are training for a marathon, you will need both Aerobic and Anaerobic Conditioning, Strength & Mobility training and Rest & Recovery.  These are the four pillars of distance running, which many runners may or may not know.  All are equally important to know and learn about when doing your first distance running race.

If you are reading this, you basically are wanting information about marathon running, where to start, how to even start and tricks of the trade to take that first step (no pun intended).  There are countless amounts of website articles that give you a guideline on how to even take that first step in distance running.  Articles such as this: Long Distance Running: A Beginners Guide from health & fitness help break down the thought process of how people experience themselves while running.

Mentally, you have to prepare yourself to run slower.

Distance running is all about pacing yourself and the quicker you can grasp the concept of running slower to run longer, the better off you will be.  As you become more consistent in your running and pacing, you will then find it easier to go faster and challenge yourself in picking up your speeds and seeing how consistent your pacing can get at those speeds, as you increase in distance and mileage.

All in all, these are the very basics of learning how to run your first distance race. No matter if it is your first mile to 5k to marathon or even an ultra marathon, Custom Performance’s physical therapists have you covered. All of our physical therapists are distance running coaches and can provide you with assistance for any ailments you might have along your journey. We even offer free phone or gait consults to get you started.

Be sure to check our Eventbrite page (search: custom performance) for any events pertaining to the NYC marathon.  We will go over the following topics: nutrition, hydration, beginner: tips, tricks and anything for a first time (marathon) runner.

One last tip that I will leave:  Always be healthy in your training and listen to your body.

Marathon and distance training is a long season. Be mindful of your body.  Be aware of all the aches and pains that the body is taking on with the mileage. Be sure to take a rest day in an already full week of running, cross training and strength training. Also don’t forget to get a good amount of sleep.

Good Luck!

By Brian Hsia

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