Running, especially long distances, can be extremely rewarding but it’s a heck of a task to take on. It will test your willpower and challenge your tolerance to physical pain. Competitive runners are broken into several classes. There are ultramarathoners, who run a grueling 50-100 miles, marathoners complete 26.2 miles, half-marathoners go for 13.1 miles and endurance distance runners trek extensive distances over the course of several days. Regardless of what your end goal is, to get there, practicing the right techniques comes first.

“Endurance runners are a strange breed,” says Jim Lubinksi, an endurance sport coach, professional triathlete, elite runner and NASM certified personal trainer. “We, as athletes, always want to be bettering our performances. Rarely do we cross the finish line without one regret—there is always something we could have done better and we want to show that we can do it.”

“Milestones for a runner vary depending on ability,” says Lubinski. “Rarely do you see a new runner attempt a marathon. This must progressively build up—usually in the order of 5k, 10k, half-marathon, then the marathon.” He continues, “26.2 miles is a long way to go and you must put in the proper training and commitment to running in order to achieve this feat.” Lubinski offers some tips to get your body in shape to run triple-digit distances.

Stay Positive
If the heart and mind aren’t in it, your progress and results will lag. The thought of the task at hand can be intimidating, but with the right frame of mind, you can do it.

Lubinski’s Training Advice
“I would say the best way to motivate would be just to sign up for a race. That way, you have to train. Once you feel the accomplishment of crossing the finish line, you want to push further and see what else is possible. When I'm running a marathon I'm in pure pain the whole way. I ask myself, ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ But, as soon as I cross the finish line, I ask myself, ‘When is the next one?’”

Keep a Schedule
To hold yourself accountable, remain consistent and always make sure you're progressing. Going into training without an adequate schedule will break that consistency.

Lubinski’s Training Advice
“You never want to leave your house saying, ‘I think I'll run 30 minutes today.’ Know what you want to accomplish with each run before you even think about tying your shoes,” Lubinski says. Pick a days, have your goals established for those days, and check them off on the calendar as you go.

Ease Into It
Considering how tough running is on the body, it must adapt to the new stress. Starting out modestly will allow for proper recovery and adaptation to the training. The ultimate setback to any athlete is injury, and jumping in full swing could just end with you getting hurt.

Lubinski’s Training Advice
“Start with four 20-minute easy runs per week for two weeks, then build to five 20-minute easy runs per week, and keep building frequency and distance gradually week over week.”

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Adopt Consistency
The saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Endurance training is no different. Putting in the time on the track or trails is what makes achievements happen.

Lubinski’s Training Advice
“One day of workouts don't matter; one week of workouts don't even matter. What matters is week after week, month after month, year after year of consistent training. The more consistent of a runner you are, the quicker your body will adapt, and the more stress your body can handle. This will lead to the ability to hold a sustained effort for a longer period of time,” Lubinski says. Working off the base you have established, continue to build your distance and keep smashing benchmarks.

Embrace Variety
Once you have established a schedule, maintained a level of consistency and built up some endurance, the next step is to spice your sessions up with variety and experimental training. Incorporating new training practices will amplify your progress and keep things interesting.

Lubinski’s Training Advice
“You can start adding variety in the form of speed work (alternate 30-second sprints with 30 seconds at an easy pace, five times), hill repeats (alternate 30-second uphill runs with 30 seconds of easy downhill, five times) and tempo runs (run three miles at your race pace with three minutes of an easy pace between each). These workouts will further enhance your fitness while building your speed and strength.”

Power Through Ruts
All athletes face a variety of different setbacks. Runners, like other types of trainers, hit plateaus. Periodization, which is the cycling of training regimens, will assist in breaking out of a rut.

Lubinski’s Training Advice
“You must remain consistent but, occasionally, you have to decrease your volume for a week, giving your body the chance to recover. That way, the following week, you will come back stronger than ever with the ability to push the limit on fresh legs,” Lubinski says. As an example, “I usually use the three up, one down approach with my athletes—three week build and one week recover—which may look like this in terms of mileage: Week 1-20 miles, Week 2 - 24 miles, Week 3 - 27 miles, Week 4 - 14 miles,” he explains.