So you’ve done it. You signed up for your first 5K, 10 miler, half marathon, full marathon – and of course, it’s a runDisney race!
But you’re not even close to that final amount of mileage needed to complete the race.
Have no fear! Even though it may seem completely out of reach – you can work your way up to the mileage needed to cross that finish line! Here are some tips on increasing your running mileage.
§ Start Slow – I know that part of you that just wants to go out and see how far you can go. Don’t do it. You are just asking for injury! It is important to build up your base first. Start with smaller mileage, with one long run a week. And slowly add to that long run. Slowly. And don’t think you have to run the entire time! Most distance runners have a running/walking ratio that they run.
§ 10% Rule – Once you are ready to start adding to that long run, the 10% rule (usually) applies. Basically, only increase your weekly mileage by 10% from the previous week. (Runners World explains it in this article.) As long as your shorter runs are staying pretty much the same, you can usually increase your long run by a mile each week. Now, I did say usually. Everyone is different! Some may be able to add on mileage quicker – some slower. (As stated in this NY Times article.) Basically – listen to your body. It knows when it’s too much!
§ Fuel Properly – On shorter runs, fueling isn’t as necessary. (Yes, you still need to eat well and hydrate!) But when your mileage starts increasing (for me – anything over 6 miles) – I need to fuel during my run. Many runners rely on GU gels, however I enjoy Sports Beans. There are also Clif Shot Bloks, GU chomps, Sharkies and many more. Find what works for YOU!
§ Prepare Your Body – During those long runs, your body goes through a lot. Make sure your muscles are stretched and loose. Make sure you are hydrated. Make sure you use Body Glide. That’s right, there will be a lot of rubbing during a long run – and the last thing you want is blisters or chafe marks! Also, prepare your mind. Part of a long run is the mental battle – make sure you are up for it!
§ Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – I can’t stress this one enough! I must admit, whenever I feel stinky after a run – it’s usually because I’m not hydrated well enough. It doesn’t matter if it’s the hot summer months or the cold frigid winters, you need to stay hydrated during your long runs. On top of water, many runners include electrolytes as well. (Think Gatorade or Nuun.) This replenishes your body so that you are ready to continue on and tackle those miles!
§ Bring Some Good Entertainment – Long runs are…long. Hours even. So make sure that you have something to keep you entertained throughout your run! Whether it be a new playlist on your iPod, an audio book, a movie for the treadmill, or even prayer time – make sure that you have a way to keep yourself going for that run.
§ Stay Safe – This is probably the most important tip. When you are out on your long run, you need to make sure you have what you need to stay safe. I always wear my Road ID so that if something happened to me, my husband could be contacted right away. I also bring my phone so that I can contact someone quickly if needed (and my husband can track me on my run with the Runkeeper app). Since I’m still trying to convince my husband to get me a guard dog – I’ve thought about bringing pepper spray on my runs. Sadly we live in a world where we need to think about these things – so make sure that you are safe.
It IS possible to work your mileage up to whatever distance you can imagine! Just make sure that you are smart about it – the last thing you want is injuries, or even worse, to not be safe. Take it slow – and you’ll do just fine!
Consider looking at Jeff Galloway’s personalized training plans for upcoming runDisney races that will help push you forward in a SAFE way.