What Is Long Distance Running?

endurance running training

This sounds like a bit of a bimbo question to ask right? I mean really, the term “long distance running” is self-explanatory, many might argue.

Is it really that simple a term?

And why on earth is it even important to define long distance running?

I’ve been a long-distance runner for a couple of years. When I first started running, 5kms was almost unimaginable because I was incredibly unfit. Today, I can literally sprint for 5kms.

I eventually graduated to running my first half marathon. Back then running the Comrades Marathon, four times the distance of a half marathon, was crazy to say the least.

Quite clearly from the above, the term “long distance running” is relative based on your objectives.

In this post, I want to address the term “long distance running” in three parts by:

  1. Defining as per Wikipedia
  2. Defining it in terms of your objectives
  3. Highlighting the importance of defining it appropriately

Wikipedia definition

Wikipedia defines long-distance running or endurance running as a form of continuous running over distances of at least five kilometres (3.1 miles).

This is probably the most basic and straight to the point you’ll ever come across.

So, if you’ve ever run around the neighbourhood block and it was a distance longer than five kilometres, you can proudly call yourself a long-distance runner.

Definition in terms of your objectives

There are two main objectives of running a distance longer than 5 kilometers.

The first objective is to stay fit. So, you are not the crazy type. Yet! You simply do it – twice or thrice a week – just to stay healthy.

For you, you couldn’t be bothered about your speed or why your core is a vital component of your running. For all intents and purposes, you are a long-distance casual runner.

The second objective is to prepare for a race.

You are not merely looking to stay fit, but there’s a race coming up and you need to be ready. Needless to say, race distances vary. The common ones are as follows:

  • 5km
  • 10km
  • 1km (Half Marathon)
  • 2km (Marathon)
  • 2km and above (Ultra-marathon)

From the above, we can conclude that a 5km athlete and an ultra-marathon athlete are both long-distance runners. However, you’ll agree with me that the two athletes are in two completely different leagues based on their objectives.

Whilst a casual runner can easily achieve running long distances of 5kms or even 10kms, successfully completing a distance of 42.2kms is not a casual effort at all.

The significance of defining “long distance running” appropriately

Understanding that the Wikipedia definition and an “objectives-based” definition are worlds apart, helps you to approach long distance running with caution and perspective.

Each year, an incredible number of athletes suffer common running injuries.

One of the reasons they suffer injuries is that they simply don’t understand the fundamentals of long-distance running.

Whilst running a 5km is considered casual in many ways, once you start running distances in excess of 10kms, you need to comprehensively understand the dynamics of long distance running. In my Free Training Programme, you get access to “The 8 Laws Of Successful Distance Running”, where I cover the fundamentals in detail.

Understanding these fundamentals will not only help you to enjoy your running much more but you’ll also be able to run for many years and eventually make running a part of your lifestyle – whether you are a casual long distance runner or an athlete that participates in races.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the post.

God Bless!

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