Training

Long Distance Running: Four Week Training Plan

It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular runner or looking to get started, long-distance running can be for anyone. Long-distance running, or endurance running, is a form of running continuously over distances from 3km up to marathons and ultra-marathons.  

This means there’s a distance for anyone to start working towards, no matter your level of experience. We’ve put together the perfect training plan for anyone to get into running or take theirs to the next level. Challenge yourself to longer distances and see how far you can go 

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Benefits of long-distance running

Running Plan

Key tips and tricks for long-distance running

 

Benefits of long-distance running 

All forms of running can provide an effective full-body workout. Running is a high-calorie-burning exercise that can help muscle strength but is also a great social activity. Long-distance running can also have many benefits for your physical and mental health. 

  

Improved cardiovascular endurance  

  

Running is an aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate and puts demand on your respiratory system, meaning blood flow is increased throughout your body and your body needs more oxygen.  

The further you can run, the more you develop your aerobic system and build up your body’s ability to work harder for longer. It also means your overall cardiovascular health will improve.  

  

Improved muscular power and size 

  

Running requires plenty of rigorous movement, meaning many of the body’s muscles are worked during exercise. 

Longer runs require the use of both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibres: the more developed these muscles are, the better runner you will be.  

Running can also help increase the size and number of mitochondria in muscle cells, helping to provide them with more energy.  

 

Burns calories and uses body fat as fuel 

  

Running is an effective and efficient full-body workout that burns calories, so it’s a firm favourite for those who want to lose body fat. It’s a long, slow form of exercise, so the body uses stored fat as an energy source. 

At the beginning of a run, your body will use glycogen (stored carbohydrates) to power your movement. But once these stores are depleted, your body will tap into stored body fat for energy.  

  

Builds mental resilience  

  

In addition to its physical benefits, long-distance running can have many mental benefits too. All endurance exercise requires mental endurance. Every run challenges you to stay focused and focus on pushing through barriers when your body wants to stop.   

The longer you run, the more you are required to overcome the mental urge to stop, pushing yourself on to go further and faster to beat your personal record. 

 

Can increase overall wellbeing  

 

Running, like most exercise, can also play a vital role in our mental health. We all know the feeling of the post-run high. Running can help clear your mind and help you think more clearly. 

 

Running can also be an incredibly social sport. By joining a running club, you can enter a community of like-minded people from all backgrounds. 

Long Distance Running Plan

  

Running Plan 

  

Ready to get started on this four-week training plan? It’s designed for those who want to run 5-10km and wish to improve their time. This plan is designed for people with a good base fitness level, so if you’re a complete beginner, spend four weeks running 1-3km first. 

Always remember to warm up before you work out. Start with a brisk walk or slower jog. This will increase your body temperature and get your joints and muscles ready for the run. Also take some time to do some dynamic stretches. 

Running pace is described using the perceived exertion scale (PES), going from 1-10. 1 is a light intensity where you can easily breath and talk, and 10 is maximum intensity with heavy breathing and no possibility of talking.  

Week One   

Day 1  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 2   

  • 3-5km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • If you are a beginner, alternate running and walking every 1-2 minutes 

Day 3  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 4   

  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • 4 x 60-second runs 
  • Fast pace (7-8 PES) into 2-minute rest  
  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 

Day 5  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 6  

  • 8km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • Try and run continuously, but you can walk sections if you need a rest 

Day 7  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  

Week Two   

Day 1  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 2   

  • 4-5km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • If you are a beginner, alternate running and walking every 1-2 minutes 

Day 3  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 4   

  • 3km  
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • 4 x 90-second runs 
  • Fast pace (7-8 PES) into 2-minute rest  
  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES)   

Day 5  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 6  

  • 8km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • Try and run continuously, but you can walk sections if you need a rest   

Day 7  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  

Week Three   

Day 1  

  • Rest or mobility circuit   

Day 2   

  • 4-5km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • If you are a beginner, alternate running and walking every 1-2 minutes   

Day 3  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  Day 4   

  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • 4 x 120-second runs 
  • Fast (7-8 PES) into 2-minute rest  
  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 

  Day 5  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  Day 6  

  • 9km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES)  
  • Try and run continuously, but you can walk sections if you need a rest 

 Day 7  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  

Week Four    

Day 1  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

Day 2   

  • 5km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES)  
  • If you are a beginner, alternate running and walking every 1-2 minutes   

Day 3  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  Day 4   

  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 
  • 4 x 90-second runs 
  • Fast (7-8 PES) into 2-minute rest  
  • 3km 
  • Easy pace (4-5 PES) 

  Day 5  

  • Rest or mobility circuit 

  Day 6  

  • Rest 
  • Make sure to consume a good amount of carbs on this day but there’s no need to carb load 

  Day 7  

  • 10km 
  • Aim to run continuously and smash your 10km record 

Long Distance Running Plan

 

Key tips and tricks for long distance running   

Don’t be afraid to slow your pace  

It can be easy to go off with a bang when running and feel like your lungs are on fire when you’re only 1km in. When running longer distances, it’s OK to go slowly and at a comfortable pace. You should be able to hold a conversation while you run. 

  

Build up slowly 

Taking your time is key. Don’t start adding an additional 1km too quickly. Instead, allow your body to grow and build, as with strength training you should be working in clear blocks to progress. This will help you avoid injury and burnout.  

  

Walk it out if you need to   

It’s OK to walk, especially when running a distance you’ve not done before. Take your time to catch your breath and go again — keeping moving helps your body build that resilience. You’ll soon find these walking sections occur less frequently.  

  

Break down a run into smaller chunks 

It can feel like there’s so far to go on a longer run when you start — breaking down your run into sections can help you stay motivated but also cope easier with longer distances. Focusing on smaller parts at a time can make things easier.  

  

Invest in good sportswear 

Running can be tough on joints and the body, so it’s vital that you invest in the right kit. Most important is a good pair of running trainers; everyone has different strides and gaits, so we recommended heading into a running shop to get this analysed. They can recommend the style that will suit you best.  

Smartwatches are great for helping with time tracking and routes, and running vests are highly useful. They’re comfortable, well ventilated, and some are designed to carry water so you can stay hydrated on long runs. A good running vest can really make a difference. 

  

Take Home Message 

Whatever your reason for wanting to go long-distance running, it can be great way to stay fit, achieve a sense of accomplishment, and do something fun with others. This plan will help you build fitness and challenge yourself over a four-week period and beyond. Once you’ve got the running bug, it’s hard to stop.  

 

 

 

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Amy Golby

Amy Golby

Writer and expert

Amy has been a sportswoman for over 18 years playing rugby and netball up to a national level, she has been a qualified personal trainer for 5 years and further her nutritional knowledge with a diploma in sports and exercise nutrition as well a psychology degree. She has been training in a gym and weightlifting for over 10 years and continues to learn and improve her training in order to reach her goals. She believes in both the physical and mental advantages of sport and fitness as well as a balanced diet and lifestyle. Amy has created programs around sport and fitness for Red Bull, Look magazine, Spartan UK, as well as Mental Movement UK around how fitness can help improve your mental health. In her spare time, Amy enjoys playing sport, socialising with friends, and fuelling her shopping addiction to gym wear. She can be found here - https://www.instagram.com/dreams_and_dumbbells/?hl=en