How to Run Farther: Tackling a New Distance

How to Run Farther - Tackling a New Distance | Almost Getting it Together

A couple weekends ago I had the brilliant idea to go look at my high school cross-country times which were embarrassing to say the least. I told Emily about it the other day and she reminded me that we really peek as runners in our early 30s. I’m glad I didn’t peek at 16 but if I could go back 10 years, I would be placing in the top 10 of races instead of last (true story). Sigh.

I bring this up because I never fathomed running more than a few miles. 3.1 miles sounded ridiculous to me 12 years ago… and now I typically don’t leave my house for less than six. How did I learn to run further?

How to Run Farther: Tackling a New Distance

How to Run Farther - Tackling a New Distance | Almost Getting it Together

A very scary sign to see the day before your first marathon.

  • Start with Small Steps
    Not literally, but figuratively. Never increase your milage more than 10% in a week, so if you’re currently running 10 miles a week, add a mile your first week and so on.
  • Cross-Train
    I know there is a serious correlation in my improvement as a runner and the integration of cross-training in my workouts. I used to run 5-6 days a week and never really do much of anything else. Now I run 4 days a week, go to yoga 1-2 times a week, go to SoulCycle once a week and usually hike once a week. Yoga keeps my muscles happy and limber and SoulCycle and hiking moves my body in ways running doesn’t.
  • Be Ready to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
    Running any distance doesn’t necessarily always feel good. Some numbers are very scary when proceeded with “miles” – 3.1, 6.2, 13.1, or 26.2 to name a few. It’s going to hurt but it’s going to be worth it. Running is 80% mental and anyone who tells you differently is lying.

How to Run Farther - Tackling a New Distance | Almost Getting it Together

  • Strength Train
    If you expect your body to be able to perform longer and harder than it is used to, you need to incorporate strength training. Runners really need to focus on core and back strength because that’s what holds you up when you’re on your feet for hours at a time – and your form is the first thing to go when you’re fatigued.
  • Get the Right Nutrition
    I’m going to let you in on a little secret – running further distances makes you really ravenous, all the time. Basically the only time I’m not hungry is when I’m sad. (I’m always one break-up or stomach flu from my goal weight.)
  • Do Your Research
    There are lots of training plans, nutrition plans, blogs, books, etc. focused on running further distances. I don’t think there is any right one, but set aside some time to do some research and be open to testing out something new.
  • Listen to Your Body
    I know that running any more than four days a week burns me out. If you’re feeling sore, tired and starting to hate running – back off for a few days and take these steps to get out of a running rut.
  • Focus on Recovery
    Recovery is so, so, so important. There’s no point in increasing your distance and pushing yourself if you undo all your hard work by getting injured because you aren’t recovering properly. Foam roll, go to yoga, eat anti-inflammatory foods and follow my other Long Run Recovery Tips.
How to Run Farther - Tackling a New Distance | Almost Getting it Together

Invest in a foam roller if you’re going to start increasing your distance. I love the Rumble Roller.

Resources

Chat with me:
Do you have a new distance you want to run? What tips do you have for runners wanting to increase their distance?

15 comments on “How to Run Farther: Tackling a New Distance

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Susie @ SuzLyfe on July 7, 2015 7:37 am

I think you have to trust in the process. So many of our new runners are terrified that they will have to run 16+ miles at some point. But that is just it–it is at SOME point. You will give your body plenty of time to adapt before that!
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Chris on July 7, 2015 10:08 am

While I won’t be upping my running distance any time soon (haha) this holds true for strength training as well. Say you have a goal of a 300 lb squat. You can’t just throw more and more weight on the bar and even if your goal seems FOREVER away, just a 10 lb increase per month means you’ll add over 100 lbs in a year! And that’s freaking incredible when you think about it. Good tips yo!

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Marisa @ Uproot from Oregon on July 7, 2015 10:26 am

I am running a half for the first time in early August and these are great tips!! I’ve been using the Hal Higdon plan to increase my mileage slowly. Going to read your successful long run post… I just ran 7 miles for the first time yesterday (longest distance yet!).
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Latoya on July 7, 2015 10:51 am

Thanks for the reminder. I’m in my second week of half marathon training
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Shashi at RunninSrilankan on July 7, 2015 10:53 am

Cassie – these are some seriously incredible tips! I wish I had read this post when I was in my 20’s! Back then, all I did was run – but, live and learn – right? Now, I love incorporating cross training – which involves strength training too! Awesome Post, lady!

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Rachel@ Athletic Avocado on July 7, 2015 11:26 am

these are some great tips because I really want to start increasing my milage as well! I always stop at 3 miles
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Rachael@AvocadoADayNutrition on July 7, 2015 11:36 am

Perfect timing because I’m actually about to put on my shoes and go for a lunch break run! Working my way up to a half marathon, but right now I’m at 3-5 miles. I used to run cross country in high school and my times were never great, but I was able to run long distances because I loved it. I think that’s most important to me as I increase my milage. Also, need to get a foam roller…
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Alyssa @ RenaissanceRunnerGirl on July 7, 2015 1:52 pm

Such a timely post as I begin to think about embarking on training for my first full marathon! I’ve only run a half up to now and feel I could do 15-16, but there are 10 more miles to go…
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Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on July 7, 2015 2:12 pm

Hi Cassie! I wouldn’t say that running a full marathon is on my bucket list … but I could see adding it one day. I ran one half, and I would not really call it a “fun” experience. But of course, your points about recovery and strength/cross training are all great. And your quote about your goal weight — hilarious. I’m pretty much always hungry too.
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Jamie on July 7, 2015 2:20 pm

I’d really love to run a 50K some day. I used to despise running… but somehow over time, slowly built up my distance to a point where I’m comfortable with running 10 miles every weekend. I like to look at it as a challenge, one with positive reinforcement. The feeling I get after hitting a new distance is really not like anything else : ) Tips = definitely build up slowly, and always remember every now and then milage should be cut back. Giving our bodies the appropriate rest is key!
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Georgie on July 7, 2015 4:05 pm

Great post! I’ve been feeling a little burnt out lately and I know it’s because I haven’t done any cross or strength training which always hurts me in the long run.
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Beth @ Running with the Sunrise on July 7, 2015 11:12 pm

I’d say in some cases taking small steps literally can be helpful, too, if you’re an overstrider, which can lead to injury. ;) Great blueprint for increasing your racing distance! I’m actually backing down in distance because I was feeling really burned out from training for marathons, so no big distances for me. It’s all about what works for you with where you’re at in life. :)
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Trevor E on July 8, 2015 12:00 pm

Incredible tips! I’m going to use a couple of these myself immediately. You’re a genius. So inspiring!
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Whitney Carney on July 8, 2015 2:43 pm

Can I just say that I loved everything about this post?! Especially..

“I know there is a serious correlation in my improvement as a runner and the integration of cross-training in my workouts. I used to run 5-6 days a week and never really do much of anything else.”
“If you expect your body to be able to perform longer and harder than it is used to, you need to incorporate strength training.” <– I can tell a HUGE difference in my running since I have started incorporating both into my routine, plus like you said I'm not burnt out on running.

"Get the Right Nutrition" <– People think they can just eat whatever they want because they just ran 10 miles when, like you said, recovery is critical!
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