Running Long Distances – A Little Guide


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When it comes to the National Fitness Physical Award (NAPFA), or any fitness test, the running component is arguably the hardest event to ace. Requiring both physical and mental strength, the 2.4 km run is the bane of even the best student athletes. 

However, by implementing the following steps, you might just find yourself improving a bit more than your peers in this dreaded NAPFA component.


The first step to improve long-distance running will involve, obviously, training. It’s common knowledge that training is especially important when you are trying to achieve a desired level of fitness. To begin, we should first make a training schedule for ourselves. A schedule should include the day and the time for the training to start. A possible schedule could be as such: once during the weekend and once during the week. Be sure not to train for two days back to back, as it does not give your body an opportunity to recover. 

A fixed schedule will come a long way to help you improve too! Scheduling allows you to be more aware that you have very limited time on your hands. This will motivate you to give your best during training.

Now, on to the substance of the training. How exactly do we train? Training involves the Principle of Progressive Overload, which states that the toughness of the training should not be too hard, and any increase in volume or difficulty of the training should be gradual. 

For example, if you have just started training for your 2.4km run, it is not logical to immediately start running that distance. You could start small, running about a kilometre first. Then, after every training session, add about 200 metres. If your training is too tough from the onset, you might feel demotivated or intimidated by the goal, and thus unlikely to improve. 

This does not just apply to running. It can also be used in training for other sports, like swimming, or even studying. 

At the same time, one thing people usually overlook when it comes to efficient training is consistency. There is no point in intense training if you are only going to perform it once every 2 weeks. Instead, you should abide by your training schedule, and remind yourself to stick to it weekly.

Last but not least, if you find yourself lacking motivation at some point, start this training plan with friends. Training with friends will allow everyone to improve together at the same time. Friends also give you some competition and allow you to train better. When you lack the motivation to run that day, it is these friends that will encourage you to go on a run with them.


After training, recovery is also an important part of the process. 

Figure 1
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During training, you will surely experience some form of fatigue which lowers your fitness, as seen in Figure 1. As a result, recovery is especially important for an increase in compensation and eventually overcompensation, and leading to a higher level of fitness. 

Failing to recover well will result in a lesser amount of compensation and lower level of fitness gained.

So, how do we make a good recovery? Of course, sleep is important, along with a good nutritious diet. This would mean eating vegetables too. However, this does not mean that you cannot consume anything unhealthy. Surely, after breaking a personal record by storm, you are entitled to a meal at McDonalds! This just means that you’ll need to cut down on fast food and save it for more special occasions.


Let’s move on to some tips on running. When it comes to running, what we really want to focus on is our form. Proper form is important to allow you to go faster, for longer. 

1. Running Tall and Upright

The first step to a good running form is to run tall. You don’t want your shoulders scrunched up near the ears, but at the same time, your shoulders shouldn’t drop to the point where your back arches. Instead, you want them relaxed enough to keep your spine in a neutral position, which will allow you to lean forwards and engage your glutes properly. 

2. Forward Lean

 As you run, you will find yourself leaning slightly forward, which is a normal occurrence. However, you should ensure that the slight lean comes from your feet and not your hip. A way to do this is to visualize that you’re going to fall forwards.

3. Arm Swing

As with all forms of running, arm swing is an essential part. However, to run a 2.4km, there are some ways to improve your arm swing to your advantage. 

Firstly, you should relax your hands. The arms do not need to be rigid but you should not relax them to the point where they start flailing. When swinging your arms, envision that you are putting chips in your mouth. This means that you swing your hands towards the center of your body, yet your hands do not cross your midsection. That makes for a good arm swing.


Keep in mind these tips and tricks and you will find yourself hitting your targets for the 2.4km NAPFA test, or even the Inter-House Cross Country Competition. Continuous hard work is the key to success! You can do it!