How to Increase Your Running Distance

There comes a day when your 3-mile route around the neighborhood no longer satisfies your running thirst. You need more. You want to get outta town and explore!

That’s how I’m feeling just about now. My physical therapist has ordered me to keep my mileage right around three miles for each run, but I feel ready to go farther. However, I’m a rule-follower, so I’m sure I’ll wait until I get the okay to add mileage.

Some runners may be intimidated at the thought of increasing their mileage. But, if you do it the right way, there’s nothing to be scared of. Add a little bit each week, and soon you’ll be running farther than you ever thought you could! Then there are some runners who are rarin’ to go and, since they feel good, they start piling on the miles.

Increasing your run distance isn’t hard, but you have to be careful. Add too many miles too quickly, and you can get injured. So how do you increase your run distance?

Increasing Your Running Mileage Safely

The smartest way to increase your run distance is to increase your mileage five to 10 percent each week. But no more than 10 percent!

“Leapfrogging” is a great way to increase mileage and reduce your risk of injury as suggested in the article “Training for Distance Running” on RunthePlanet.com. “Go up 10 percent one week, then down five percent the next week, and up 10 percent the following week. This procedure challenges the body, allows for recovery, then challenges the body once more.”

Runner’s World editor and 1968 Boston Marathon-winner Amby Burfoot gives an example of increasing your mileage by 10 percent in the article “The 10-Percent Rule”: “If you’re running 10 miles a week now, and you want to increase your training, run 11 miles next week. And 12 the week after that. And 13 the week after that. This may look like agonizingly slow progress, but in just 8 to 10 weeks, you could be running 20 miles a week.”

Remember that for very new runners, 10 percent may be too much. Start increasing mileage with the lowest percent first. See how you feel, then move up a percent or two the following week. This is how you build your base for distance training events, such as half and full marathons.

Jenny Hadfield, a running coach, expert and author, says the better your foundation, the better your running “house” in the article “A Runner’s Guide to Base-Building”: “Base building for the newbie is defined by building regularity in training at consistent, easy-to-moderate effort levels, while high intensity, speed work is left to future training cycles when experience and mileage are well established.”

Follow the percentage rules and remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare when adding mileage to your runs: Slow and steady!