Long distance runs mean different things for different people. For you, it may be the 6.2 miles you need to conquer in an upcoming 10K race. Or maybe you're training for your first marathon and want to build up your endurance for a 26.2 mile run. Regardless of your target distance or your reasons for increasing your mileage, you can reach your goal by systematically increasing your mileage a little at a time.
Practice Makes Perfect
When you first start a running program, jogging for one mile or even 400 meters is a challenge. It takes persistence and patience to build up to two or three-mile runs. Once you reach a major distance goal, whether it's three miles or five, it's natural to feel like you've maxed out distance-wise. However, your body adapts to the jogging patterns you settle into. Unless you challenge yourself by adding distance to your runs, you won't see improvements to your cardiovascular endurance.
One long run a week is key to increasing your capacity for distance running. It's not necessary to work on distance more often than that. The Road Runners Club of America recommends that you add no more than 10 percent to your longest run each week until you reach your distance goal. For example, if your longest run is five miles, add half a mile on your next long run. After one to two weeks at this distance, add another half a mile, making your longest run a six-miler. Continue this pattern until you reach your mileage target.
Although one long run a week is sufficient to build distance into your jogging program, supporting runs and cross-training are also part of the process. Schedule three to four runs per week, including your long run. Your shorter runs may range from two to five miles or longer, depending on your fitness goals and preferences. You can use your shorter runs to build speed or just to keep your body conditioned to run on a regular basis. Strength training with light weights, walking, cycling and yoga all make effective supporting workouts.
As you're building distance into your long runs, don't shy away from walking breaks if you need them. Switch to walking for one to two minutes or until you're ready to pick up the pace again. As long as you maintain your weekly long runs, you'll find that occasional walking breaks are useful and productive. With practice, you'll be able to run the entire distance if you choose. Consult your doctor before undertaking a distance jogging program if you have a history of heart or orthopedic problems.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.