Gearing Up for a Long-Distance Run?

With the recreational running season set to kick off, novices, amateurs and weekend joggers have an opportunity to lace up their joggers and hit the road.

Distance co-ordinator at Athletics Australia Tim O'Shaughnessy gives his top tips on preparing for the ultimate running experience: the marathon.

Even if you're not an elite athlete, the 42km distance event takes planning and preparation, O'Shaughness says.

Coming in at number one is a balanced training regime with a combination of short, fast runs and long slow distance runs - known among runners as LSD.

"It has got to be very much a progressive build up," O'Shaughnessy says.

"It's crucial that you get your long runs in but I think also it's crucial that you recover from these long runs.

"Include some turbo-runs or runs where you are running at race pace (and) some where you are running a bit slower."

Diet and good running gear are also essential ingredients for success, O'Shaughnessy says.

"You probably need to look at all aspects of your diet, your recovery, your sleep and your equipment and then the volume in your training," he says.

He suggests eating plenty of fruits, cereals and grains and investing in at least one decent pair of runners.

"Make sure you find a correct shoe for your feet and your running rate," he says.

"You probably need a couple of pairs of good shoes, if you try and be cheap on that it will cost you in the end."

And he is not a believer in barefoot marathons.

"I'm not convinced on that yet, there will be some that will swear by it and good luck to them, but it's not something that I advocate," he says.

Staying injury-free is also a crucial element of running success, O'Shaughnessy says.

"Avoiding injury is a key part of it and injuries can occur from too quick an increase in your weekly mileage," he says.

It is also important to choose your running surfaces and circuits carefully.

"Put some thought into your running courses, include some hills in them, some variety in where you are going and mix it up a little bit," he says.

While most marathons are held on sealed roads he suggests doing most of your training on grass or dirt as it is kinder on the legs.

The length of time you need to spend preparing for a marathon depends on your level of fitness but a lot can be achieved in 12 weeks, he says.

Getting into a running group and setting yourself short-term training goals can also help keep you motivated.

COMMON MISTAKES IN PREPARATION

*Increasing training too quickly

*Not wearing the correct shoes

*Trying to run hard too often

*Running on the wrong surfaces

*Not stretching before and after a race

*Not staying hydrated

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