Balancing distance and intensity is a constant responsibility of a runner. We’ve all been there: You’re eyeing a 10K or even a marathon — or maybe you just love how running feels, and want to be able to go farther — but you’re not sure how to boost your mileage without petering out. USATF-certified run coach and 2:39 marathoner Jason Fitzgerald, founder of Strength Running, says going the distance can be a matter of a few steps taken together. Here’s how:
1. DO ONE WEEKLY “LONG” RUN
“A long run can simply mean a few miles more than any other run during the week,” Fitzgerald explains. “The key is to simply make sure you have one long run. If you only run 3 miles on your regular days, see if you can make your long run 4 miles. The distance you add is relative to the rest of your running and fitness level.”
2. FOLLOW THE (ROUGHLY) 10% RULE
The usual 10% rule for runners is geared toward overuse-injury prevention, and involves boosting your mileage by 10% each week, but Fitzgerald suggests personalizing it. “It’s more about running more than what you’re comfortable with,” he says. “Run until you push into discomfort. That could mean adding 5–10% every two weeks.”
3. ADD A MILE TO YOUR LONG RUN
Add a mile to your long runs every week or every other week. This could coincide with your version of the 10% rule. “You could even add a mile to your long run every few weeks,” Fitzgerald says. “If that feels comfortable, add another.”
If it so happens that you feel comfortable adding weekly miles without discomfort or fatigue, Fitzgerald advises capping your seasonal mileage so that it’s no more than 15–20% greater than it was the previous season. Otherwise you could risk an overuse injury.
4. ADD A FOURTH RUN DAY TO YOUR WEEK
Adding time is an easy way to boost your mileage, as you’re conditioning your body to simply run more. Fitzgerald suggests adding a fourth regular run day. For example, your week could include three 3-mile runs and one 4-mile run, structured as your schedule allows. You don’t have to run daily, nor double up on any given day. In fact, if you can keep a rest day in between some runs, all the better.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN