Whether it’s completing a 100km ultra marathon or just managing to jog to work every day, as runners most of will have goals that we want to achieve. It is the way we measure ourselves, and how we set targets that will hopefully push us to improve, little by little. These targets can be about beating a specific time – maybe a sub-three hour marathon – or perhaps you might have a certain number of kilos you’d like to shed.
But often these goals also come down to simply increasing the distance we can run. As beginning runners we might start by trying to jog and walk 5k, and then gradually increase the length of our route – but it can be hard. So, what are tips for achieving your goals of running that little bit further?
Build in recovery
We’ve spoken here before about the need to build recovery into your fitness regime. Whether you’re a body builder doing an intense workout programme or someone training to run a charity 5k, recovery time is essential. That’s not to say it is easy to do it – as active people we all know just how addictive exercise can be.
The ‘runners high’ that you get out on the road is hard to quit – but it is important to give your body a break sometimes.
This is important not just because it allows your body to repair itself. It is also an essential tactic for increasing the distances you are able to run. For example, someone running six times a week will find it much harder to increase the distance they are running than someone who runs three times a week, simply because they aren’t giving their body time to recover and to adapt to the increased distance. So, let your body rest, and you’ll be in stronger condition when it comes to your next run.
Don’t worry too much about pace
We have access to more data about our running performance than ever before, from heart rate to calories burned. And, to be fair, your pace is a fairly basic number to keep your eye on – it can be a very helpful guide to understanding your overall performance and a useful tool for projecting finishing times.
But it can also be a distraction sometimes, and our next piece of advice is to ignore it for a while – at least while you’re trying to increase the distance you’re running. With this in mind, we recommend just concentrating on increasing the distance you’re running, and forgetting about trying to maintain your normal pace. There’s a good chance that you’ll be going slower that you usually do for a while, but that really doesn’t matter – the key is simply to gradually increase the number of miles you can run. The speed will come later.
The 10 per cent rule
This is a widely accepted rule of thumb within the running community and it is a helpful way of increasing the distance you’re running safely. Simply put, it means increasing the total number of miles (or kilometres!) you run each week by 10 per cent. So, if you run 20k (in total) in week one, don’t run any more than 22k the following week.
The idea is to gradually increase the distance in a way that gives your body plenty of time to adapt. If you’re building in enough rest days and increasing your distance in this way then you are far less likely to sustain an injury, and it also gives you time to do general body work outs (other than running) that focus on equally important areas such as core strength.
Keep it interesting
With the myriad apps, social networks and route sharing technology we have available to us, there really is no excuse now for not building a bit of variety into your running programme – it keeps things interesting and it is one of the surest ways to increase the distance you can run too. Variety is an absolutely critical part of being able to run further, because it helps to keep us motivated and engaged in what we’re doing.
So, build up through the week doing different distances and routes, and then on your long run day (usually at the weekend) just try and increase the distance you’re doing gradually. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you make progress.