Want to move from being a 5km runner to a 10km runner? Or stepping up the mileage to do your first half or full marathon? These tips will help you get there!
There is a reason we don’t suddenly go from crawling to running – we need time and practise to get the body used to levelling up.
The 10% Rule
You may have heard of this, and while it might require a bit of mathematical work, it’s a safe way to gradually increase distance without injury. The rule states that you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week.
For example: If you run 5km three times a week, that’s 15km per week. Following the 10% Rule would look like something like this:
Week 1: 3 x 5km runs
Week 2: 3 x 5.5km runs
Week 3: 3 x 6km runs
Week 4: 4 x 5km runs
Add kilometres to your long runs
If you’re a more experienced runner and you’re already running 25 to 35km per week, start by increasing your long runs. Typically a running programme may look like: shorter runs in the week, including hills and tempo runs, with a longer run on the weekends. If you’re running say, 15km on a Saturday, increase this run gradually by 1.5 to 2.5km each week, while keeping your runs in the week of a similar length.
Include Recovery weeks
It might feel counterintuitive to gradually build up mileage and then suddenly cut back down again, but the truth is that your body needs time to recover during the building phase. So for example, on every 4th or 5th week of training, create a “recovery” week. This doesn’t mean no exercise. Instead it means, slowing down and bit and cutting back some distance.
That long run on the weekend? Cut it back by about 50%. So if you’re running 20km on a Saturday, for the recovery week, simply run 10-12km, while keeping your mid-week runs about the same distance as usual, but decrease your intensity and speed. This will help to prevent burnout and injury.