I know a lot of people have started running during lockdown, whilst another group, myself included, found running through this time quite stressful and so fitness and mileage dropped.
With the goal of a marathon in Spring 2021, I’m trying to increase my mileage to a solid 30 miles per week consistently before I start a marathon training cycle. I’ve been using a combination of the Peloton guided runs, easy runs and run/walks to build up my mileage. Each week I have a weekly mileage goal in mind, and then run what I feel like each day (or ride instead of running!). However, I want to get used to following a bit of a plan before starting marathon training again, so this week I’ve set myself an outline to hit 20 miles. You can follow my weekly workouts here.
How To Increase Your Running Mileage
Increasing Your Running Distance
Whether you’ve completed Couch to 5K and are looking to take a step up in distance, or you’re coming back to running after an injury or just some time off and are building back up to longer runs, it’s really important to build up mileage slowly and not jump up in distance too much in one go. Doing too much too soon can increase your risk of running injuries or burning out.
- Don’t increase your mileage too quickly
- Incorporate easy runs and rest days
- Listen to your body, back off if you’re struggling with the extra mileage
- Find the mileage that works for you!
How much mileage is right?
Some people thrive on 12 miles per week, some on 102 miles per week. Honestly it all depends on the individual, their goals and their other life commitments. Personally I run best around 30-40ish miles per week, more than that and I struggle to fit all my runs in (and forget about strength training!).
One of my favourite training cycles was my Berlin Marathon where I only ran three times per week, maxing out about 35 miles. I’ve also run a couple of 50 mile weeks when training for the Edinburgh Marathon last year.
How To Increase Your Running Mileage
Build Up Slowly
General advice is to follow the 10 percent rule, increasing your week on week mileage by a maximum of ten percent per week (this also works when you’re building up your weight/reps when strength training). So if you’re used to running 20 miles per week, you’d add two more the following week etc, then another two plus miles the next week.
You could also do this in terms of running time rather than total run mileage. For those who train in minutes, like many of the Couch to 5K apps and marathon training plans, you would add 10% more time to your overall weekly run time.
Increase the Length of Your Runs
Typically when you’re building up your long run when marathon training, you would increase this run by 1-2 miles per week. If you already have a longer run in your weekly schedule, you could add a little extra mileage per week and keep the rest of your runs as they were. Alternatively you could add 1 mile to two of your mid-week shorter runs to build overall mileage.
Add Extra Runs Into Your Week
Add in an extra 2-3 mile easy run per week, this could be on a day you usually do your cross training or a day you already run making it a double run day. Just remember to keep it easy! Personally I have been using a run-walk to keep things super easy and helping me run more miles each week.
Increase the Number of Days Per Week That You Run
Are you currently running 3 days per week? You could increase the number of days you’re running to 4 or 5 days/runs per week. And split your current mileage up between these days, plus an extra 1-3 miles.
When marathon training, I’ve followed training plans that have anywhere between 3 and 6 runs per week, I think 5 runs is about my sweet spot. Building a base is a great time to establish the number of days that are ideal for your lifestyle (and body!). I know right now life isn’t exactly normal so things might change in the future, but creating a habit to run four or five times a week will stand you in good stead fo future training.
Follow a Plan or Use a Coach
If you’re increasing mileage then following a plan can help do it safely and successfully. For those that have completed the Couch to 5K plan and are looking for support when increasing running time might like the Couch to 5K+ app. There’s also a 10K Trainer from the makers of C25K that has a lot of good reviews from those that have transitioned from the 5K to 10K distance.
For those looking to increase to a half or full marathon distance, or in fact any distance between 5K and 26.2, then I really like Hal Higdon’s training plans. I used the Novice Supreme training plan for my first marathon, it was 30 weeks and started with running 1.5 miles.
If you prefer or have a big goal that you’re working towards, you could find a coach to help increase your mileage. Check out this post about working with online running coaches.
If you’re increasing your mileage, then you might want to think about what trainers you’re wearing. You should be replacing your shoes every 300-400 miles. Have a look at my post on the Best Running Trainers For Beginners.