Runners looking to bring up their performance and distance level is a great way to challenge yourself physically, mentally and make yourself a better runner. After a while, running the same distance can get a bit boring or not as motivating to train. Training for longer distances can bring up your inner strength. Once you increase your running distance, shorter distance runs or races seem much easier. Running a half marathon after you’ve ran a full marathon or 50K race, will make it a lot less stressful, and feel easier physically and mentally. Upgrading your distance doesn’t have to be much longer distances. You need to increase your distance according to your current running distance; 5K to 10K, 10K to half marathon, half marathon to full marathon or 50K, 50K to 100K, 100K to 100miles. Increasing your running distance needs to be handled and planned properly to avoid any injury. Follow these tips to be able to run longer, feeling stronger and faster.
Tips to Increase your Running Distance:
1. Run longer: Make sure that your weekly long run increases by no more than 10%, 10 to 15 mins. Adding longer distances too quickly can cause potential injury risks and more fatigue. Run your long runs at a slower pace and effort, this will provide more aerobic training, build more red blood cells and capillaries to carry more oxygenated blood. Once you build up your distance, you will be able to cover the long-distance run feeling comfortable, then you can occasionally pick up your pace in the final third of the long runs. Make sure you don’t do this every single long run so you don’t create too much fatigue. Another good tip is to lower your long distance run once in a while by a few kms to give your body a chance to recover.
2. Add some threshold blocks in your long run every other week: These threshold blocks will help build up your fitness and stamina to help you run longer and faster. While running threshold blocks you should still be able to talk a few words but not a whole sentence. Threshold blocks: Add these intervals towards the end of your run. Start with 4 X 5 mins, step up to 5 X 5 mins, then 5 X 6 mins. Make sure you include 90 secs to 2 mins of recovery between each interval.
3. Increase your speed: Tough interval, speedwork sessions will help build up real strength and speed. Include interval sessions once/week, focus on increasing the duration of the intense effort and reducing the recovery time. Speedwork session- 5 X 400m at 5K pace with 60 secs recovery and 3-4 mins jogging in between sets. After a few weeks 6 X 500m at 5K pace with a 2 min recovery jog.
4. Uphill training: When running long-distances, you can still talk and breathe towards the end, but your legs, hips, muscles and body starts to feel exhausted. Getting your muscles to last as long as your lungs is all about building up strength and endurance. Hill training is one of the best way to build up strength and endurance while running. Add some hills in your long runs and steady runs, you can also add some hill sessions once/week, alternating with speedwork sessions.Hill sessions: Run uphill for 45-90 secs at threshold effort and run down. Start with 5 X 45-90 secs progress to 10 X 45-90 secs. Make sure you recover in between each uphill.
5. Fuel according to your training and body: Proper refueling and nutrition while training for longer distances is very important to avoid illnesses, injuries and support your energy levels and performance. The meals and snacks you eat need to include the essential nutrients according to the intensity and distance. You need to focus on adding more protein, eating healthy carbs and healthy fat. Good snacks include bananas with nut butter, oat cakes or rice cakes with hummus, fresh fruits and nuts… You also have to make sure you hydrate enough and eat some recovery foods post-long run- 4:1 carbs and protein. Also focus on getting enough vitamins and minerals into your system through healthy fruits, vegetables and supplements. Electrolytes are necessary during long runs so your body doesn’t crash and get depleted of the essential minerals and vitamins.
6. Rest: More rest with more training is very important for proper recovery. It’s not only based on the amount of rest days (at least one/week), but the quality of sleep. To add an extra ½ hour of sleep per night will help your body to recover from the higher volume and kms.
7. Strength and stretching sessions: Adding more distance and intensity can increase the muscle damage and the risk of injury. Adding some strength training sessions 3/week to activate and strengthen the glutes, core, legs, upper body will help to support the proper running form, increase your performance and speed. Make sure you stretch every day, even on rest day.
8. Keep a training diary to stay motivated with your goals: Keeping daily records of your training sessions will help you stay more motivated and positive. Making honest reports, reflecting on what you have learned and experienced will help you learn how to readjust your training to increase your performance and endurance while feeling better.
9. Add new routes: By not repeating the same course for every run weekly, will add a bit of mental training and challenge. Running a new course will be more interesting and adventurous, and you won’t need to focus on your pace or timing. Just enjoy a new route occasionally, then return to your old routes, you will surprise yourself with how much you’ve improved and you will feel stronger and better overall.
Train Well, Train Long, Feel Strong!