Back when I first started running, I couldn’t even run a mile without feeling like I was going to just keel over and die. Like, seriously leave me on the street to die because I refuse to run 50 more yards. It’s not happening, home slice. But I kept running for the same reason a lot of people do: to get in shape.
Somewhere down the line I had this really good run, and I experienced for the first time, the famously life-changing runner’s high. I was hooked. And now, here I am. And accomplished marathon runner who frequents in races and actually enjoys running.
But upping my mileage wasn’t easy for me. I started out maybe doing 4-5 miles a week, now I run on average between 20-30 miles a week. There are various steps you can take to actually upping your weekly mileage, and here are some of the things I did to help myself become the runner I am today.
I’ve found a lot of times it was hard for me to determine how many miles I should be increasing a week. There is a common rule known as the 10% rule, which basically states that you should take your weekly mileage and increase that by 10% every week. So if you start at running 5 miles a week, the next week you should run 5.5 miles. If you start at 10 miles, up it to 11 miles, and so on. For me, the rule worked sometimes, but I never felt like I could follow it. So I set a new running workout schedule for myself that seemed to work better for increasing miles:
- 1 day dedicated to a 30 minute interval run (degree of difficulty increased as I improved)
- 1 day of hiking and trail running that is more of a “fun run”. I still wanted to enjoy running and not have it be all about miles.
- 3 days focused on increasing miles.
For the trail run and the interval run, I didn’t care about mileage. It was all about getting a good workout. For the 3 days I focused on increasing my mileage, I followed the 10% rule. It ended up working for me because rather than having 5-6 days a week focused on improving my mileage, I had 3 solid days to work on it and in between those days were just workouts that I consistently did.
Get the right shoes
Mainly shoes. I learned very quickly that what kind of shoes you are wearing vastly improves how fast and how far you run. It’s all about comfort. For me, I wear really light weight shoes so I can feel like I’m running barefoot. For others, you may need more ankle and arch support. Go to a running shoe store where they know what they’re talking about and get the right shoes.
Enter a race or set a goal
A huge factor of motivation and remaining motivated for longer periods of time is having some kind of goal in sight. An end game that you will eventually achieve. I NEEDED this kind of thing for me to stay motivated when I was a beginner. Whether it was a goal weight or a goal time or a goal distance, I needed it to keep going. I entered a 10K when I first started running so I would have a reason to run further and more frequently. Running was also a huge weight loss factor for me, so that kept me going as well. Have that end game, but once you accomplish it, set a harder goal!
Get a watch or an app that tracks your time and distances
Keeping track of your progress is not only a motivator but it is a great way to see how your runs change depending on different variables. It’s like a damn science experiment. Science is neat.
Incorporate interval training
Interval training is not only beneficial for weight loss, it’s beneficial for improving distance running. It causes your heart rate to quickly rise and quickly fall, and builds up endurance for the runs you do for the rest of the week. I usually do one interval training run mid-week and my interval treadmill workouts can be found HERE.
Do different routes
Whether you are trail running or running on the street or beach or whatever, switch up your route. Getting a variety of hills, terrains, and scenery will prevent you from getting bored and keep your endurance up on a variety of runs.
Drink enough water
I can’t express this enough. You’ll be peeing like a pregnant lady in her third trimester, but you also won’t die of dehydration, so there’s that.
Stretch at the end of your run
There have actually been several studies done that say stretching prior to a run can actually slow you down. I always felt like that as well, so I tend to save my stretching for post run. But really take the time to stretch out your legs well AND your back and neck.
Finding the correct pre and post-run snack is important. In addition to finding that good carb-to-protein ratio, eating healthy foods throughout the day will just be fuel for your workouts. I’ve had days where I’ll give into that sugar craving and eat ice cream or chocolate and I get so hyper and then crash mid-run and can’t even finish. I’m not saying don’t eat dessert because dessert is delicious and you should, but it’s all about that balance and portion control.