The most important thing to remember when increasing your weekly mileage is to ensure you are doing it gradually and consistently. Keep a check on how many miles you are doing each week. This way you can check you aren't making any big leaps and are steadily progressing.
You can also keep a note of how you felt and any nagging pains. Consistently feeling tired and sore can mean you are doing too much, too soon. You can also keep a record of the surface you ran on, which can really affect how hard a run is. Be aware that a run on a very hilly, difficult route might actually be equivalent to more miles on the flat.
Slow it down
When increasing your distance, it's important not to increase intensity at the same time. When you up your miles, make sure you keep the pace steady and conversational for most of your runs and resist the urge to push it on every one.
Make sure your easy runs really are easy and go as slow as you need to feel comfortable with your new distance. When building up mileage, walk breaks are allowed! For more on pacing, check out the benefits of slow running
One of the biggest reasons people struggle to up their running is that they break down. This doesn't have to happen. Progressing mileage gradually will help with this, but there are other things you can do.
Make sure you are running in good running trainers and get a new pair every 500 miles. If you've struggled with injury in the past, it's worth getting a check over from a physio. They can find your weaknesses and tight areas, and help you combat them before they lead to pain. Most injured runners find out they have weak glutes (bum muscles). Wouldn't it be great if you knew this before it started to cause a problem? Prevention is always better than cure.
Find your sweet spot
Most of us have a level of mileage we can tolerate before we break down. However, finding this involves a lot of trial and error. It also changes throughout your running life.
Spend a little bit of time doing some analysis. If you've experienced an injury, look at how many miles you were averaging for four to five weeks before this occurred.
Had you increased it much more than usual? You might need to be careful trying to increase past that point again. Consider that you might need to spend a bit longer just below that level before you can safely increase it. Focusing on strength and conditioning will help to push your safe mileage threshold upwards.
Don’t forget the shorter stuff
Ok, so we know we said to slow it down when ramping up the miles, but adding in small injections of shorter, faster running, such as interval training, will actually help you build up your distance. Just make sure your steady running is done at a much slower pace and ensure the speed work isn't too intense or long. It'll make your normal running pace feel a lot easier and actually make you more injury resistant by improving your technique.
You can do a simple session of strides: run hard for 80-100m and repeat 4-6 times. This is a great little session to keep some zip in your legs, while increasing mileage without causing too much fatigue. You can also add in some progression runs (run the last 10-15 minutes of a run hard) but don’t do this too often while increasing distance.
Words: Marcus Scotney