As you start to become more familiar with running, you might want to begin increasing your mileage. Maybe you want to start training for competition. Or maybe you find such enjoyment in running that you simply want to do it more often! But when increasing mileage, you should keep a few things in mind to make the adjustment smooth. Here are 5 easy steps to raise your mileage and start running more:
Gradually increase your mileage
Although your prior running experience has helped you build up muscular and cardiovascular strength, you still have to be gradual when raising your mileage. If you increase too suddenly and drastically, you raise your risk for overtraining or injury.
For example, if you currently run 25 miles per week, it would not make sense to start running 70 miles next week. It’s much better to gradually raise the volume, from 25 one week to 30 or 35 the next. Then stay at that level until comfortable before increasing again.
Slow down if necessary
When you start running more mileage, your pace usually needs to change as well. If you currently run 3-4 miles at a time, it will be difficult to keep the same pace if you start running 7-8 miles at a time. For that reason, it’s advisable to slow the pace down as you increase the distance.
Trying to keep the faster pace you use for a short run when you increase the distance may lead to over-fatigue. As your body gets used to the longer distances, your pace will naturally tend to get faster anyway. It’s better to let your body become stronger through training, rather than forcing the pace to get faster. Your pace will get faster when your body is better trained.
Try to stay on softer surfaces
It goes without saying that running more mileage will be harder on your body. Every mile you run involves 1,000 or more foot strikes. Even if you are fairly light on your foot, that still translates to a lot of impact forces.
If you run all your miles on asphalt or concrete, you run a higher risk of injury. If you plan to increase your mileage, you can counteract the injury risk that brings to your body by running on softer surfaces. Try to seek out grass fields or dirt trails for some of your runs. The impact forces your body experiences on these soft surfaces are much lower than the ones you experience on hard surfaces like roads. 10,000 steps on a soft dirt trail is much easier on the body than 10,000 steps on concrete roadway. Multiply that by your increase mileage, and your body will thank you for the softer landing!
Increasing your miles means increasing your recovery
If you increase the distance you run, you also need to increase your recovery. This can take a variety of forms.
In the first place, make sure you are hydrating and eating properly. Running more miles means burning more calories. While that can be positive if you’re trying to lose weight, burning too many calories can leave you feeling weak, tired, and prone to excess fatigue. You have to make sure you are fueling your body properly for the increased workload you’re now placing on it.
Also be sure to get enough sleep and general recovery. If you only run 20 miles per week, you don’t need to sit in a chair the rest of the day recovering. But if you run 8-10 miles per day, it may not be a good idea to spend the rest of the day running around or on your feet. That will tend to drain you much more than it would at your lower mileages.
Back off if you feel injury coming on
The cardinal rule when raising mileage is to listen to your body. If a nagging hamstring pain or a sore calf muscle isn’t going away, that’s a signal that it’s time to back off and reduce the mileage or take some rest days. It’s much better to take a few days off and come back healthy than to push too much and wind up injured.
More mileage for performance gains
Running more is a great way to increase your endurance, stamina, and overall cardiovascular fitness. By taking the 5 easy steps to running more mentioned above, you’ll make it easier to run more. May your increased mileage also mean increased enjoyment!