Whether you want to work up to 5km or 100k, increasing your running distance isn’t just about adding kilometres.
A marathon? Fitness? Knowing your goals will help you plan, train consistently and keep you motivated when your tired, over it, or facing yet another cold, rainy run! When you increase your long run distance SLOW DOWN.
This will help your longevity. Run at a pace where you can still hold conversation comfortably. Increase your distance conservatively to avoid injury, build confidence in your own ability and decrease your risk of injury. Generally around 15-20% of your distance each time is standard and manageable.
Consistency is really important when building endurance. Keeping your long run to the same day each week as well as the shorter run in between is important for the body, and the mind.
Shorter, mid-week runs serve a purpose. Recovery runs help you, well, recover intervals sessions (speed work and hills) increase your overall pace but also your stamina and endurance during your long runs
But it’s not just about continuously adding kilometres every week. Our bodies go through peaks and troughs of energy and performance (and for us ladies, hormonal changes) that mean there should be weeks where your training is more relaxed to allow your body to restore itself in preparation for the next increase.
Let’s say you want to run a half marathon and you already run 10km with relative ease. In training you won’t run the full distance of your goal race; you’ll find though last few kms on the day! Your long runs that build up to 21km could look like this:
After we run, we rest. Rest is as important as running! The day after your long run should be a recovery day, they are in every training plan you will ever read. Ignoring these will lead to injury. Fact.
To support your long runs, and greatly increase your level of enjoyment, success and love for the sport, there are a few extra tips that I would highly recommend:
1. Get it done. Some runs are awesome. Some suck. Everyone has bad running days.
2. Cross Train. HIIT classes, weights and swimming are fantastic ways to compliment your running, build cardio vascular fitness and strength.
3. Stretch!!! Yoga is a vital part of my training; it keeps the body limber, builds strength, aids recovery, improves concentration and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.
4. Invest. If nothing else, get the right shoes for YOU. Get properly fitted for shoes properly. Blisters aren’t fun!
5. Get a plan, or a running coach. There are squillions of training plans available online for all fitness levels. They are methodical and will help you get the best from your time and training. Running Coaches are ideal for anyone, regardless of age or fitness. They provide a tailored plan to suit your needs based on your lifestyle demands and goals. They are also extremely affordable, not just for the Olympians out there!
6. Nutrition. One of the biggest changes I saw to my running came from understanding nutrition and learning how to fuel before, during and after a run. It is not just about mountains of pasta. Educate yourself about the value of nutrition and it will pay off in dividends.
7. Buddy up! Running Clubs, online communities, a running friend…whoever and wherever you find that support, take it. They keep you up when things get tough; they inspire you and keep you accountable.
8. Enjoy! Celebrate your successes along the way. Learn from the tough runs and remind yourself how lucky you are to out there!
9. Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat.