Have you always wanted to run longer miles, but didn’t know where to start? Here is some simple, helpful advice to run farther, stronger and longer miles in no time.
Running has long been a favorite sport around the world, as well as a great way to burn fat and get fit. It is free, accessible to anyone and easy to do for anyone who doesn’t have pre-existing health conditions preventing them from high impact exercise. But even if you don’t run or haven’t had much experience with adding miles, you can reach those goals with some simple tips. SureFiz trainer and health coach Jenn Ryan has run over 40 races in her career, spanning from the 5k to the full marathon, and she offers some advice to any runner who wants to expand their mileage and get stronger at running long distances.
Benefits of Running
Running offers many benefits to the body and your overall feelings of wellness. Here are a few of the main benefits you can see as you begin to run and increase those miles:
Increase health-running can help boost your immune system and can help boost lung function, raises levels of good cholesterol and improve cell function
Strengthen your knees-Although many people believe running is bad for your knees, running has actually been shown to improve strength in the knees and the joints. Along with a strong cross-training program, you can see great improvement in knee strength by adding some running.
Improves feelings of confidence-Running is a great way to boost your overall confidence. Especially if you train for a race. The feelings of crossing that finish line are unmatched-you will feel like you can conquer the world!
Fight Depression-If you’ve ever heard the term “runner’s high”, this is where it comes from. Running increases endorphins and can help fight feelings of sadness and depression. It is felt more after the first few miles though, so make sure you get past the first mile or two where it feels challenging, and the reward will be very sweet.
How to Start Running
If you are a beginning runner, don’t be afraid to start. It can be as simple as lacing up your shoes and getting out the door. Here are a few tips I have for anyone wanting to start running, no matter your current fitness level:
Make a playlist: Have some good music that pumps YOU up, no matter what it is. I have clients who listen to a range of music from heavy metal to Disney soundtracks-no one else hears it but you, so find what you like and make a list!
Have good shoes: They might seem expensive but it’s much cheaper to invest in a pair of good running shoes than to pay for physical therapy when you have a running injury.
Start small: Begin with a low mile run/walk. Plan on jogging or running at a comfortable pace for you, and go for a minute. Then walk for 30 seconds. Repeat for one to two miles.
Relax: Keep your shoulders pulled down and back, make sure you aren’t holding any tension in your neck, relax your body. This will also help cut down on injury possibilities.
How to Increase Mileage
If you are a seasoned runner but haven’t ever tried to push your distance, or a novice runner who wants to increase mileage, these tips are for you. With a little planning and attention, anyone can run farther, stronger and without risking injury.
Run at least 2-3 times per week-Practice makes perfect in anything, including running. If you have a regular schedule you will get better and stronger.
Vary the lengths of each run-you don’t need to run the same distance every day. Varying the lengths of each run will help with speed and endurance. Choose one day a week for a longer run and use the others for shorter distances.
Increase by one mile for your long run-The best way to get more efficient at longer distances is to gradually add. Each week, add one mile to your long run until you reach your distance goal. If you are adding too quickly, you can add a half mile a week or one mile every two weeks.
Cross Train-Cross training will keep you from overtraining and risking a running injury. The best way to cross train is to incorporate full body strength/resistance training, and other forms of cardio such as biking, swimming, walking and HIIT interval training.
Speed train-To become faster and more efficient in your running, one of your shorter runs during the week should be focused on more speed work. If you’re using a treadmill this is very easy to do, as you can adjust the speed easily. If you are running outside, a fitness tracker or running app can help you know your speed so you can adjust it accordingly. Try to aim for intervals of 30 seconds to a minute where you push your threshold and run faster, then slow down for a jog or walk and repeat.
Take time to stretch-Many runners and fitness enthusiasts fail to stretch enough or any at all. Make sure you carve out 10-15 minutes after each run to stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and hip flexors. These muscle groups get a lot of work during your run.
Choose a rest day-Don’t forget to rest! The body recovers and repairs on rest days, so allowing 1-2 days a week will ensure that your muscles can adequately heal before you hit the road again. I usually recommend that runners take their rest day the day after a long run, as the longer miles will tire out your legs more than shorter runs.
Running offers many benefits, physically and emotionally. Anyone who wants to run more can do so fairly easily. No matter who you are or how much you are running right now, adding mileage can be done safely and consistently if you follow these steps. And remember to fuel properly, hydrate before and after, and always listen to your body. If you are adding miles too quickly, you can risk overtraining and injury. Take care of your body through the miles and you’ll reach your goal no matter what it is. Happy running!
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