Long distance running may be defined as a form of continuous exercise over distances of at least 3 kilometres. It is considered to be a largely aerobic exercise in nature and may require stamina and mental strength. It seems to have multiple purposes in today’s society. People might practice running for recreation, physical exercise, as a mean of travel or for cultural reasons. Endurance might also be used as a tool to improve cardiovascular health. Furthermore long distance endurance might improve aerobic fitness by increasing activity of enzymes and hormones, which may stimulate the muscles and the heart more efficiently. Historically, running may have been used as a method of hunting. American Indians and Australian aborigines might have ran at a slow and steady in pace for the purpose of hunting in certain areas. When agriculture developed, long distance seemed to be considered having other purposes.
Sandra Hjelm is a former coach and states running might have many health benefits. She states it might help to improve the lung capacity and might be good for the brain capacity. “If you feel down or are pondering on things exercises may be one way aiming to get out of it. Each time the heels hit the ground so release endorphins, which make you happy and positive. This is why it may be addictive if you get through the first few weeks.” She believes it is a big difference between running outdoor and inside on a treadmill. Treadmills are slightly gentler on your body however the benefits from exercising outside are overtaking, she suggests. Long distance running might also be a way of getting in general better shape. Especially hills seem to be a healthy way of practicing and improving endurance. She considers the main health benefits to be the general fitness, both for the body, the heart and the lungs. Sandra refers to how the body might create endorphins, which might make a person happier and more alert. “It is also a way of balancing the calories, while running a person burns many calories, so the longer the run is, more calories might be burned.” She also thinks running might improve peoples’ ability to focus in school and at work, since running may improve the general health and create a more calm and relaxed lifestyle.
Sandra suggests mixing long passes (running outside for many kilometres in a steady speed) with long intervals and short intervals. “Long intervals are considered to be when a person runs fast for certain minutes and between walks or rests, and might be an affective way of achieving a more developed endurance. In short intervals the person runs shorter and faster, and it seems to have a similar effect. She also states it being important to sometimes go out and run slowly together with a running partner. This might help with relaxing and calming down. Rest may be important meanwhile practicing endurance. A runner has to rest to allow the body and even the head to recover. It is important every year to take approximately 2 weeks without any exercise at all, so the body has time to heal before going back to serious training.
Diets while exercising seems to be individually unique, Sandra states. She believes every person is different and means a varied diet filled with a little bit of everything is the best for a long distance runner. If a person runs more for fun, the diet seems to be of light importance. It seems to be more thought of first when a person runs on elite level. Sandra states it being important to eat regularly and drink a lot of water. “It is important to eat on a certain time before running, in general the body may store energy for up to 2 hours, then it is time for a refill.”
Why might this type of endurance training be a popular spring activity?