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
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Vega has amazing strength and training plans for 10Ks, half-marathons and full-marathons. Nutritional plans are included as well!
- Revisit my Tips for a Successful Long Run.
- Recover with Yoga Poses for Runners.
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?