When I first started running my goals were simple. I wanted to be able to run around the block without stopping – then I wanted to progress to running a 5k. At the time a 5k seemed like the impossible dream, I mean I hadn’t run since high school and I was in terrible shape. Running across the yard after the dog was the extent of my fitness abilities. But I was tired of feeling like that. I felt like I was missing out on so much because of my physical condition. As a family, we made the choice to change, first by changing our diet and then by adding in exercise. We have never looked back and now I am expanding my running goals to try for a 10k. In pursuing this goal I have had to learn a few things including how to increase run farther without hurting yourself.
Preventing injury is a strong concern of most runners. There is no doubt that while running provides us with an amazing feeling and health benefits, like all sports, it can be hard on you. Listening to your body and going at a pace suitable for your skill level can be a hard skill to learn. We all want to go faster and farther and we all want to improve. Having the patience to do so properly will pay off in the long run!
4 Tips to Run Farther without Hurting Yourself
Increasing your run distance is a race against no one but yourself. When it comes time to stretch out those miles you have to give your body time to strengthen and adust. You might consider going back to basics and returning to walk/run intervals for the miles you want to add.
If you are used to running 3 miles but want to go five then run three and a half or three and a quarter miles and take a walk break. Walk for a quarter mile or until you feel sufficiently recovered and then run for another half or quarter. Repeat until you reach your desired distance.
As time goes on the goal is to decrease the amount of time you are walking and increase the time you are running. As your strength and stamina improve so will your distance! Remember – it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach your distance goal, every extra step is still a step in the right direction!
There is a pretty good chance that you started off running slowly. Most of us do! The urge to log faster and faster times, however, tends to pull us in eventually. You might be able to clock a fast mile or two now but if you didn’t start out that way it’s unrealistic to believe you can tack on more miles at your current pace right off the bat!
You have to slow down to build your stamina before regaining the speed. Learning to slow down again can be challenging. Many of us don’t have an innate sense of pacing and odds are we are running slower or faster then we think we are. Thankfully there are a lot of online trackers which can help you keep up with pace and cadence. My favorite is called Map My Run but look around and see what suits you best!
I tend to run my long run at about half the speed I do my short runs. Sure it might feel like I am moving at a snail’s pace but its worth it when I get to the end and realize just how far I managed to go! As you get stronger your speed will increase again!
Add Distance Slowly
It is generally recommended that you only increase your typical mileage by about 10% a week. Sometimes I find even that is a bit too much. Sometimes I have to hold at a new distance for a couple of weeks before adding any more. It’s far better to increase your distance slowly and be able to keep running then to push yourself too hard, too fast and end up sidelined for weeks or months due to injury.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Adding distance to your running is very much a story of slow and steady ultimately wins the race! But finally, as the last tip –
Add Strength Training
Strength training is something that I need to get more on board with. In fact, I am currently working out a plan to do a 30-day strength training regimen to see how much it helps in much the same way as I did a 30 Day yoga trail. I ended up liking yoga – maybe I will end up liking strength training too.
Regardless of my own current dislike for strength training the fact of the matter remains – stronger muscle perform better. Strengthening your muscles will mean they fatigue less quickly and that they will support your joints more. Having well-supported joints is essential if you want to run farther and avoid injury. It’s a no-brainer that putting in the time to make sure your joints are well supported and your muscles are strong will help you out in the end! No matter how much we all want to avoid it!