When you are just starting to run, and even 5 km seems like an amazing achievement, it can be difficult to understand what it is like to run a half marathon, a marathon, or even further.

Every time you run more than ever before is a daunting step into the unknown. For this reason, many aspiring runners avoid longer workouts, staying within their known physical capabilities. It’s safe, but you’re missing out on many of the benefits of running as the fun begins when you step out of your comfort zone.

Increasing your mileage on long workouts is easy. But when trying to “accelerate” the distance, especially when enthusiasm and motivation are high, beginners often fall into common traps that can lead to failure or injury.

How to safely increase mileage for a long workout

Simple ways to increase long-term

Method 1

  • Set aside one day a week that you plan to run for a long time. You don’t need to increase the rest of your runs and cross-training this week.
  • Analyze your training history and find your longest run in the past six weeks. Think over the route so that you can run another 2 km (10-15 minutes).
  • Run at an easy, comfortable pace, and if you come across steep climbs on the way, you can go to a step. The rest of the runs in the week should also be at an easy pace.
For safe progress and prevention of injury, you only need to change one variable at a time – increase either the pace or the duration.
  • Next week, increase the long distance by another 2 km, and do the same in the third week.
  • The fourth week will be a week of rest: shorten the long distance to what was your starting point (or even slightly less). This will allow you to recover and adapt to the resulting load.
  • Next week, pick up where you left off in week two and continue to increase your long run by 2K.

Here is an example of long workouts for weeks (the starting point is a distance of 10 km):

  • 1 week – 12 km
  • 2 week – 14 km
  • 3 week – 16 km
  • 4 week – 10 km
  • 5 week – 14 km
  • 6 week – 16 km
  • 7 week – 18 km
  • 8 week – 10 km
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And there it is, not far from the half marathon.

Method 2

Here, all the same, rules are observed as in the first approach – a comfortable pace, lack of high-speed training, and gradualness, but every second week falls on rest, and between them, there is a stepwise increase in mileage.

Here is an example of long workouts for weeks (the distance of 10 km is taken as the starting point):

  • 1 week – 12 km
  • 2 week – 10 km
  • 3 week – 14 km
  • 4 week – 10 km
  • 5 week – 16 km
  • 6 week – 10 km
  • 7 week – 18 km
  • 8 week – 10 km

At the end of the 8-week block, you will make the same progress regardless of the method used. There is no right or wrong method. Choose the one that suits you best and fits into your training schedule.

Method 2 is more often recommended for runners who are prone to injury or are returning to the ranks after suffering injuries, as well as for older athletes.

Some more helpful tips

Maintain a positive attitude. Getting ready for a long run starts in your head. It’s normal to feel anxious when you see a distance in your training plan that you’ve never run before, or just a very long distance.

Visualize the route you plan to run and imagine that you are doing great and feeling great at the end of your run. If you are sure that the long-term is difficult and necessarily accompanied by suffering, you will only complicate your task. Conversely, the mental resilience you train while running will help you deal with stress in your daily life.

Take a simple route. For a long workout, a relatively flat and not too difficult route is suitable. As the mileage increases, your body is already getting enough stress, do not add additional stress in the form of hills and rough terrain. Over time, you can add trail stretches or run a route that has climbs, but only after the body gets used and adapts.

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Keep track of the pace. The pace on a long run should be such that you can maintain it throughout the entire distance. It’s easy to overdo it and start too quickly in a workout, especially if you’re well-rested and energized. It is better to do the opposite – start slower than usual and add closer to the end of a long one if you still have strength.

Track your progress. If you measure your heart rate, you will likely find over time that the average pace has increased with the same heart rate. This shows that your body has become more efficient and that the necessary adaptive changes have taken place.

Listen to your body. As your mileage increases, listen for signals from your body for pain or extreme fatigue. If they do, it’s worth reevaluating your pace and slowing down, critically assessing your shoes for wear and tear, and focusing more on recovery and rest.

Nutrition before, during and after a long workout

The more you run, the more important it is to eat right. This is especially true after long runs, which helps replenish the glycogen stores in wasted muscles and promotes quick recovery and well-being.

Include all food groups in your diet, focusing on protein for replenishment and recovery, and maintain a balance of fat and carbohydrates. Refueling correctly before, during, and after a long workout can significantly affect your ability to cover long distances.

Some of the most common mistakes beginners make are not eating enough or choosing the wrong foods. The first will lead to the fact that the athlete will feel a sharp decline in strength, and at the same time, speed, and the second can completely ruin the workout.

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Before long, energize, but don’t overeat. Many runners overload their diets with carbohydrates hoping that everything will burn out like in a firebox, but in the end, they gain weight. In addition, if you have gone too far with food, the heaviness in the stomach will accompany you throughout the entire distance, and this is not the most pleasant sensation. Eat a good, low-glycemic low-carbohydrate snack 1.5-2 hours before your workout. Make sure you have enough liquid.

In training. By exercising at the right intensity — at an easy speaking pace, your body will be better able to use fat for fuel and use glycogen more slowly over time.

After 70-80 minutes of running, it is advisable to replenish your carbohydrate stores – in the form of a drink, sports gel, energy bar, or other foods (some prefer bananas, dates, marmalade, and raisins). Don’t overeat: Exercise is not a buffet table, and eating too much will definitely not help you run faster.

Aim at 30-60 grams of carbs per hour, refuel every 45-60 minutes of running.

Eating while jogging is not easy, and everyone has their own digestive characteristics, so you will have to experiment with the types of food. What works great for one athlete may not work at all for another.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated, especially during the warmer months. You need to drink in small sips every 5 km and start before you become thirsty. You don’t need to drink water so often (and you don’t really want to), but after returning home, be sure to replenish the fluid supply.

After a long time, it is important to replenish your carbohydrate stores 30-45 minutes after you finish your workout. An optimal snack or drink containing carbohydrates and proteins in a ratio of 3: 1, for example, various smoothies. If it was hot outside and sweating a lot, it will also help replenish your electrolyte supply. For example, drink an isotonic drink.

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