Got a big event in your running future? Whether you’re signed up to a marathon, ready to take on a half or just want to smash a longer distance than before, you’ll need to focus on your speed and improve your endurance to make it to the finish line. Check out these tips for a longer, stronger run.

1. Focus on strength

Increasing your strength will improve your runs and help you stay injury free. It can be hard to find the time and motivation for gym work when you’re clocking up the Ks, but it helps maintain muscles mass and keeps your joints healthy. Do hip exercises (yoga is great!) to balance out the stress on your knees and core work twice a week.

2. Get a massage

Having regular massages (or using a foam roller if your budget won’t stretch that far) keeps your soft-tissue healthy. It’ll help improve circulation and reduce soreness, speeding up your recovery after your long training runs.

3. Fuel up right

Start with a clean, healthy diet of fruit and veg, wholegrains and lean protein and build on it to suit your training requirements. Consider your overall energy balance, as the right foods, in the right amounts will keep you healthy, lean and properly fuelled. Take time to discover what works best for you.

4. Look after your gut

One of the biggest reasons people don’t finish long events is gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea. Endurance training is tough on the system, and using gels and other supplements during races can make it worse. Add natural, probiotic-rich yoghurt to your eating plan for a dose of tummy-loving bacteria, and swap gels for more natural foods, such as dried fruit or bananas.

5. Don’t forget speed work

If you want to score a PB, you’ll need to up your speed. Include interval training (shorter, more intense periods), tempo training (lactate threshold training), and fartlek training (random bursts of increased effort) for big improvements and to keep your routine fresh.