Training and Running Tips

Increasing Distance

Learn How to Increase Your Running Distance

Running techniques and tips to help advance your mileage

Running long distances requires not only physical endurance but also mental strength. It’s a satisfying reward when running past your previous landmark, or completing another lap.

But increasing your running distance takes time and planning – you can’t simply push your body to work through the pain and expect effective long-term results.

You’ll need to train and adjust your running schedule to help your body adapt.

So where to start? We’ve put together advice and techniques on preparing your body for an increase in endurance, stamina, and running distance.

Create a long-distance running training plan

The first thing you need to be doing is measuring your run. Once you know your current distance, you can plan how much you want to increase by, and when you want to achieve it.

Plot your route on an online map, app, or use a watch with a GPS function.

When to increase running distance

Know when it’s safe to increase

If you want to start running further, there’s a simple rule: don’t increase your distance by more than 10% at a time. And maintain that distance for at least 1 week before trying to increase it again.

This rule is to help prevent injury – due to attempting too much, too soon. By increasing your distance at a safe rate, you will:

  • Avoid burnout: If you push yourself past your limits you won’t yet be equipped to deal with extra stress, and you could crash quickly.
  • Listen to your body: Keep training to increase your distance, but only add it on when your body has been properly prepared to get there.
  • Better understand your progress: You can monitor your progress by measuring your normal weekly run, and seeing if you’re ready to add on that extra 10%.

Training to increase your distance

Having variety in your training is a great way to boost your running distance. Mix up your schedule with these tips and techniques, and put them into your long distance running training plan.

Tempo run

A tempo run is performed at a ‘comfortably hard' pace – meaning you’re challenged both physically and mentally. The idea is to maintain the same pace for the entire length of the run, but the pace shouldn’t be easy.

Tempo runs are an effective exercise for building endurance. Essentially, they train your body to use its oxygen intake for metabolism at a faster and more efficient rate – assisting your overall running technique and increasing your lactate threshold.

Your optimal tempo pace can be determined in several ways:

  • Heart rate: Generally a tempo run should be held at 80 - 85% of your maximum heart rate. You can check this through heart rate monitors.
  • Breath: The rule for a tempo run is that you should be challenged. Your optimal speed means you should be able to speak a sentence, but not hold a conversation.

Tempo runs should be performed weekly.

Because a tempo run is working to build up your endurance, it’s important to make it a regular part of your weekly training. Those running for general health should incorporate a tempo run into their weekly routine, and runners training for an event should regularly participate in tempo runs during the peak of training.

Tempo running
Interval training

Interval training

Interval training is done by running between 80-90% of your maximum efficiency for a measured length, jogging the way back, and repeating several times. This is a powerful running technique that works to improve overall stamina – meaning your running distance can be extended more easily.

It’s not an easy work out. In fact, intervals are notorious for being the dreaded feature to a long distance running training plan. They are however, extremely effective in increasing your endurance.

You can practice interval training in 2 different ways:

  • Sprints: Run your lengths by going all out, and sprinting at about 90% of your maximum efficiency. This is best used for runners who have experience with interval training.
  • High cardio: Run your lengths by running up to about 80% of your maximum efficiency. In other words, you don’t need to run as fast as you possibly can. Those trying interval training for the first time should start with a high cardio interval running technique.

Interval train weekly to improve your running distance.

It’s efficient for runners without a lot of time on their hands, because a workout can be done quickly while still achieving fast results. It’s crucial to always thoroughly warm up and warm down with interval training – since the activity is demanding of your body.

Practice breathing techniques

When training, maintaining a proper breathing technique will help you become more comfortable with a longer running distance. It will ensure you’re getting enough oxygen to your muscles, and able to maintain a high heart rate.

To ensure your breathing is helping you get the maximum performance from your body, try:

  • Breathing from your stomach: This gives you more oxygen at a faster rate than through your chest. It will also help prevent you from developing a stitch while running.
  • Rhythmic breathing: This is done by regulating your breathing with the steps you take. Count your steps for your breath in, and your steps for your breath out. The most common rhythmic breathing patterns are 2:2 or 3:2.
Running breathing techniques

Feeling like your training plan is hitting a wall? Take a look at our other training and running tips.