How to Program Long-Distance Running

James FitzGerald’s Weekly AMA: Long-Distance Running

In this week’s Ask Me Anything sneak peek, James FitzGerald, dives into long-distance running and provides a sample progression for getting a client ready to run long distance.

James’ View of Long Distance Running

The AMA begins with James giving his personal opinion of long-distance running. “ It can be effective depending on physics and [the client’s] capabilities, we are put to together to run” explains James. “But we need to ask the question why isn’t everyone running long-distance” adds James. He then proceeds to explain how changes in our environment have led us to run less making it tougher for current humans to pick running back up. 

Running or Surviving?

Right away James wants to dispel the notion that a client can get ready to run a marathon in seven weeks. “If you cannot run for four hours, have lunch and then do it again the next day without pain, you are not actually running your are just surviving,” says James. With that being said James still believes that through the proper program and time frame coaches can get clients ready for long-distance runs.

How to Program Long Distance Running

Before programming, coaches need to ask their clients about their history with running. This doesn’t have to be overly complex it can be as simple as “Have you ran before? When was the last time you stood up for four hours straight?” James typically gathers this information during the initial consultation and assessment, learn James’ method for assessing and consulting client for free here.

When programming running James recommends using intervals to build volume and stride efficiencies. Intervals do not mean HIIT (high-intensity interval training) in this context it refers to repeatable aerobic efforts. A sample interval progression could like:


A Sample Running Progression:

5-minute block

30 seconds of running 4:30 of walking x 1-3 (multiple days a week)

2 weeks later 

60 seconds of running 4 minutes of walking x 1-3 (multiple days a week)

Continuing the progression every two weeks


(Resource: This sample progression is an example of periodizing a training program. Periodizing is one of the three P’s of program design, learn the others in this free coaching course.)

The end goal of this progression is determined by the client and through the ongoing communication between the coach and client. While this sample program might seem excessively long it will prepare the client for long distance running for the rest of their life.

Progressing a client to run long distance takes time, but it is something that you can easily program for any client. However, the trick is creating a good relationship with the client through your monthly consultations and assessments. Learn James’ personal method for consulting client’s and his fundamentals of program design in the Free 7-Day OPEX Coaching Course.

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