What Should I Know About Endurance Running?

Dan Cavallari

The most important thing to know about endurance running is that it is incredibly strenuous on the body and therefore requires an immense amount of training. Endurance running is a sport that involves running, sometimes over rough terrain, for long distances — from 30 miles (50 km) to up to 100 miles (161 km). The body is not naturally equipped for such distances, so runners must prepare their bodies for the strain long in advance. Some of the difficulties associated with endurance running include dehydration, muscle cramps and tears, energy consumption, and managing food and water intake.

Endurance running is strenuous on the body.
Endurance running is strenuous on the body.

Endurance running requires the runner to not only be in top physical condition, but also be in a mental state that will allow him or her to endure pain, exhaustion, hunger, and thirst. The mental aspects of the sport are just as difficult as the physical ones, and consequently a runner must mentally prepare for endurance running. This preparation may include not only thinking about the pain and suffering they are bound to experience, but also preparing for the many exhaustive tasks they will perform during a race, such as planning food intake, water intake, clothing and equipment choices, and so on. A pre-race checklist is almost always necessary for the runner to be properly prepared.

Running increases a person's heart rate and burns calories.
Running increases a person's heart rate and burns calories.

Physical preparations for endurance running include managing running training as well as rest days to maximize the benefits to the body without overdoing it and actually harming the body. Endurance runners often want to maximize their VO2 max levels, which is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during strenuous exercise. Runners also want to ensure their muscles and bodies are prepared for the extended strain of running, so they may load up on carbohydrate-rich foods the night before a race while drinking plenty of water.

Running on trails or dirt roads adds an extra degree of difficulty.
Running on trails or dirt roads adds an extra degree of difficulty.

Knowing the course is also an important part of endurance running. While many endurance races take place on a paved course through city streets, other endurance races are done off-road on trails or dirt roads. Such races add an extra element of difficulty, and a runner has to prepare for the challenges. Off-road endurance races sometimes include long sections in which the runner is on his or her own, without support or nearby aid stations. Such a race takes extra preparation, both physical and mental, so the racer is safe during the entire race. Racers must further be prepared for all weather conditions, as races are not often canceled for rain, wind, or other inclement weather unless the weather puts the lives of the runners in danger.

Endurance runners need to be prepared for all weather conditions.
Endurance runners need to be prepared for all weather conditions.
Endurance running requires an immense amount of training.
Endurance running requires an immense amount of training.
Endurance running may result in knee swelling.
Endurance running may result in knee swelling.
Running endurance races require proper training and can create challenges a runner may not be prepared for.
Running endurance races require proper training and can create challenges a runner may not be prepared for.

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