Categories: Motivation Training
Tags: Running

How to up the ante on your running distance

January 31, 2017

What does it mean to be a better runner? For some it’s improving their race or running distance, for others it’s shaving seconds off their PB. It can also be about training smarter, learning to set goals that truly motivate you and incorporating more diverse training methods into your running plan. Coach Rachel Gaffney gives her advice to people who feel like they could go farther.

Every runner who’s run or raced any distance wonders if they could go further.

Chances are if you’ve run one mile you wonder what it’s like to run 2, if you’ve run a 5K you wonder what it’s like to run a ½ marathon. Do you have the runner mindset? After finishing a race or a run, regardless the distance, do you hear that little voice inside your head that says “you could go a little more” and “how cool would it be to accomplish that next distance?” If these things describe your mindset, you are ready to up the race-distance ante and learn how to boost your mileage to accomplish the next race goal.

Wanting to achieve a new distance is one thing, figuring out what you need to do as far as training is another.

Wanting to achieve a new distance is one thing, figuring out what you need to do as far as training is another.

If you’re like most runners, you have a busy life, a career, possibly a family, and other obligations to plan your workouts around. If you are going to race a new distance, it’ll require more training time and it’s important that you make sure you make every run count, that each one is efficient and that you maximize this time in order to ensure that you can reach your next goal.

With that in mind here’s what it will take for you to achieve each of the following race goals:

Running distance: 5K to 10K

Over the course of approximately 10 weeks, bump up your training to at least 20 weekly miles in a minimum of three runs, peaking with a long run of 6–8 miles.

Running distance: 10K to half-marathon

Over the course of approximately 14 weeks increase your mileage to at least 30 weekly miles in at least four runs, culminating in a long run of 11–13 miles.

Running distance: Half-marathon to full marathon

Over the course of 16 weeks build up your mileage to at least 40 weekly miles in at least four or five runs. Before tapering, nail one long run of at least 20–24 miles.

Running distance: Marathon to 50K

This is a completely different beast. Most races 50K and above involve single-track technical trail running and 4,000–10,000 ft of elevation gain and beyond. You will need to run at least 45 miles a week in 4 to 5 runs.  As well as spending time on the trails hiking and trail running 3–4 times per month!

3 steps to upping your running distance ante

Follow these 3 crucial steps in order to ensure your success in upping your running distance ante:

1) Set your race distance goal and decide why it’s important to you to achieve that distance. The “why” or the reason behind wanting to race a certain distance is going to help you mentally get through the tough days of training when it’s wet or cold or you just don’t feel like running.

2) Arm yourself with knowledge. If you use the free Running Program in Polar Flow, it’ll give you a progressive training plan in order for you to achieve your goal distance. This plan will include your customized training heart rate zones and distances needed. Follow the plan and achieve your goal distance.

3) Take action and sign up for the race. This in addition to your reason behind wanting to accomplish the goal will help you stick to your training make sure you toe that start line on race day.

Seeing how far you can go keeps you motivated and plugged into your training. Every time you complete a new distance you will feel invincible. Now go out and run!

In the spotlight

Rachel Gaffney

Rachel Gaffney

Rachel Gaffney, 44, a mother of four in Snohomish, Washington, moved up the race-distance ladder from a 5K to a 50K in four years. Now she’s a coach, a personal trainer and owner of Inner Athlete Fitness Studio where she encourages others to step onto the same ladder, even if they only wish to climb a few rungs. “Seeing how far you can go keeps you motivated,” she says. “Each time I complete a new distance, I’m reminded there are no limits.”