5 Tips On How To Run Your First Long Distance Race

Today’s post is from another mother runner, the lovely Grace from With Some Grace. Like me, Grace is relatively new to running and loving it. I have met Grace a number of times and love her energy, wit and intelligence. Today she is sharing what she has learnt in her long distance running journey.


12 weeks pregnant with twins, I watched in awe and a tinge on envy the Sydney City2Surf participants pass me by.

It was a race that had been on my bucket list but I was adamant that juggling motherhood and running was an impossible feat.

However, the following year, while the twins were only 6 months, I ran the entire 14kms.  I’ve been addicted ever since!

Without fail, I enter my favourite run every year.  This year will be my fourth.

Last May, deciding to finally up the ante, I signed up for the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon.

For anyone, especially a time poor mum, finding the time to train is just as challenging as completing the actual 21.1km race.

But I learned that with some extra planning and focus, working to achieve a physically tough goal can be incorporated into a hectic life of raising children and managing a household.

Here are some tips for those who want to ramp up the running and train for their next big race.

1. Spouse Support

My husband would kill me if I didn’t put him at the top of my list!

I would not have been able to dedicate the hours of training without the support of my husband.  Once deciding to enter the half marathon, I sat down with my husband and we worked out a rough schedule.  We discussed certain options for the days I needed 30 minutes to work on my race pace or when I was scheduled to focus on a 2 hour long endurance run.  I did most of my training at the crack of dawn before the family woke up but some days were tricky but we always did our best to find a work around solution.

2. Mileage and time

My goal was to simply run and complete the entire 21.1 kms.  So, rather than focus on speed, I concentrated on pounding the pavement as often as possible.

Even if all I had to spare was half an hour, it was about making the most of the minimum time. Sometimes this meant that the only time to run is in the rain. But that’s okay. Soggy feet are harmless!

The treadmill was a great alternative.  However, the more outdoors running I did, the more I gave my body the opportunity to be accustomed to race conditions.

3. Have a training plan

My gym gave me a 12 week training plan, with 2 days of rest. Each week consisted of hill sprints, long distance runs, weights and cross training sessions.

Most races and fun runs (like the City2Surf, the Mothers’ Day Classic) will also have a printable training plans or fitness program on their website.  There will be different ones according to your level – beginner, intermediate or advanced.

Having a specific agenda helped me calculate how much time I needed for training, which in turn, allowed me to negotiate a schedule with my husband as to when I needed half an hour or an hour for him to take over on parental duties.

4. Run with someone

Initially, running was very much a solo activity. I could escape the daily stresses and noise of motherhood and get my endorphin fix.

But my pace wasn’t improving and sometimes there were setbacks.

My gym holds a running club every Saturday morning and while I was initially intimidated at first with my turtle pace, trying to keep up with others became a great incentive.

Now my running club buddies keep each other great company.  Sometimes we’ll even have playful “sprint to the finish line” races, leaving us completely spent but with a huge sense of achievement.

5. Breathe. Just breathe.

It seems ridiculously simple but once I got my breathing right, everything else with my running fell into place.

The key was controlled deep breaths from the stomach and exhaling through the mouth, with pursed lips.

Believe it or not, breathing takes practice and I picked up a little exercise when preparing for the half marathon.

The pattern can vary depending on what feels right with you but below is what worked for me:

  • Breath in, (Tap right foot, left foot, right foot)
  • Breath out (Tap left foot, right foot)
  • Now you give your alternate foot to start when inhaling:
  • Breath in (Tap left foot, right foot)
  • Breath out (Left, right)

Then back to the breathing in with your right foot.

I practiced while watching TV, doing stretches, sitting in the car or during the children’s bedtime while sitting beside their cots until they fell asleep.

Staying with the breathing pattern kept me focus during those moments in the half marathon when my mind and body were flailing.

Long endurance running takes huge commitment and there are brutal moments of pain.  Yet, the emotional high from reaching the finish line is worth it all.  Doing it as a mum makes the sense of achievement absolutely priceless!

I hope these tips will motivate you for your next, or even first run!

About Grace:

Indonesian-born, Grace Titioka spent extensive time living and working overseas, primarily in Japan.  She now resides in Sydney where she is mum to identical twin boys and wife to an avid surfer.  While she has happily replace office life with motherhood, Grace has discovered that a 10 year career in corporate sales and being fluent in 3 languages is futile when dealing with toddler tantrums and singing “The Wheels On The Bus”.

She has recently become a run-a-holic and ran her first half-marathon last May. 

Grace blogs over at With Some Grace and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

For the seasoned runners out there what tips would you give to newbie long distance runners?