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Long-distance running: a guide to upping mileage

Whether you’re competing against yourself or hyping yourself up for a big race, mileage is important. However, when you’ve got a set running routine or you’re used to smashing out the same satisfying runs week on week it can seem tough to push those miles up. So, in this blog, we want to lay out all of the steps and changes you can make to reach your mileage goals. 

Recovery - yes you heard that right 

One of the core reasons why runners find they plateau is that they simply are not allowing enough recovery. If you’re used to doing 4-5 runs a week all at similar mileages, you’re not giving yourself enough time to replenish your energy stores and build up to increasing mileage. The body can only take so much. Instead, consider moving to 3 runs a week where you focus on different techniques and mileages (see below for more info). Once you feel comfortable with 3 varied sessions a week then gradually increase. Building up mileage is and should be a slow-paced process. On your rest days be sure to keep moving - going for a walk and incorporating some gentle mobility movement into your day. 

Look at your overall weekly mileage 

Now this one is relatively simple - instead of running your standard 5k, 10k or 15k run for every session, mix up your mileages. This could be one short, one medium and one long run a week (based on the 3-run model mentioned above). Each week you can seek to add a small amount of mileage to your overall weekly number, rather than a set amount to your average run total. 

Change up your running styles throughout a week 

As well as varying the length of your runs, incorporating different training types can also be super useful. Hill sprints, fartlek and interval runs can help to build your mental and physical capacity. The shorter running periods allow you to really push yourself without fatiguing you to a point of injury. Try swapping out one of your base runs a week with an interval-style session. This will be enough to see improvements in your capacity for intensity without making an impact on the mileage of your consistent-pace runs. 

Being properly prepped for your runs 

Now you’ve got your runs mapped out for the week, it’s time to plan them out and get ready for your session. For every run, have a route that fits in with your desired mileage or training style. For example, find a hill you can easily get to for your hill sprints, map out your 10k route for your long run and your 5k run for your base. This will not only mean that you can track your progress but mentally it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re trying to reach your goals. 

Also before each of your sessions, be sure to warm up fully. This should include some dynamic movement and stretches to prep your whole body. 

Keep a close eye on your pacing 

Incorrect or untracked pacing can be the undoing of all of your careful prep work. Blowing yourself in the first half of your run will increase your chances of tapping out earlier than planned. This is especially important on your longer run of the week, or one where you’re planning on adding a smidge more mileage. So, be sure to keep a track of your pace, maintaining as much as possible throughout the duration of your run. Pacing should be another aspect which can help you tell when it’s time to increase mileage. If your average pace increases and you’re knocking seconds off of your total time, look to make some subtle increases to your weekly mileage total. 

Keep in tune with your body and mind 

Finally is keeping in tune with your mind and body. If you’ve been in the habit of sticking to the same distance repeatedly, you’ll likely not know the feeling of being truly challenged mentally or physically. When you’re running with increased mileage, really tap into how you’re feeling. If the mileage you planned seems too difficult, dial back your pace to get it done. Or, if you’re starting to feel mentally fatigued there are some great tips to help distract you. Try finding a mantra, visualizing your route, using imagery or playing counting games. They can be the difference between sticking it out and giving up. 

Now you’re clued up on these 6 key aspects to upping your mileage, what’s stopping you from smashing your running goals? But if you’re needing a little more advice, be sure to check out our other running articles on our blog. 

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