How To Increase Running Distance: 8 Pro Tips To Up Your Volume Safely

The article is primarily aimed at the serious runner, who wants to run for longer and run faster. The article will provide you with useful tips on how to structure your running workouts to always improve as a runner. The keyword is progression. 

Whether you are a casual jogger or a relatively new runner who has reached a point of standstill, you will also be able to find inspiration from the article. The most crucial ingredient in every successful running program is the ability to make progress in your workout. 

For this reason, any successful running workout is based on the principle of progression. Regardless of what type of running program you are following, progression is “a must.” 

But what even is progression, and how can you make progress in your workout?  When you have read this post, I hope that you will become a true “progression master” and that you will feel comfortable incorporating it into your running workouts.  

 Increasing your running distance will help you progress to tackling longer races like the 10K, half marathon, and marathon, and it enables you to burn more calories and get an even better workout if weight loss is a goal.

While a simple approach to how to increase running distance would just involve adding mileage to each of your runs, because running is a high-impact sport and stressful on this body, increasing mileage too quickly is ill-advised.

What is progression?

Progression involves the process of changing and reaching the next stage of development. You make progress when you constantly increase the training load in your training program. 

If you want to become a better runner, you have to constantly increase the training load to stimulate your body to become stronger.  If you do not increase your overall training load, your body will become ‘lazy’ and the improvements will be fewer and fewer until there ultimately will be no more improvements. 

If you wish to evolve as a runner over several years, you have to incorporate progression into your long-term strategy. In other words, you have to increase the training load for each workout to become better year after year. 

It is easy and uncomplicated to increase the training load – simply run more miles at a higher tempo! It is much more complex to increase the training load in a way that will allow you to progress and simultaneously prevent injuries. Ideally, you should always be balancing on the line of getting an injury – without getting injured. 

This is the line you should challenge and find if you want to reach your full potential. When you want to increase your training load, you need to approach it in a structured way.  

Some running coaches and various experts have throughout the years stipulated that the training load should only be increased by max 10 % every week. However, the reality is different, since this rule is rarely being observed.  Therefore, you should only use this rule as a guideline and try not to get bogged down in it. 

This is how you increase your training load

You can increase the training load by running more miles, increasing your pace, or both. Normally, try and focus on either increasing your training load or increasing the pace. 

The risks of injuries will surge exponentially if you increase both the pace and training load in the same period.  When you increase your training load, it is important to give your body enough time to recover. 

The renowned American running coach, Jack Daniels, believes that the body needs roughly 6 weeks to recover and adapt to the new training load. It is important, however, to point out that there is no scientific evidence to back up this statement.

Nevertheless, the point is that, if you rush the progression, you will risk injuries because the tendons and joints will be too slow to adapt to the new (increased) training load. 

How Much Should I Increase My Running Distance?

Although the concept behind how to run further is very straightforward—gradually run a little longer with every long run—it’s important to distinguish that to increase your run distance safely, you need to take a measured and conservative approach.

The 10% rule is sometimes considered the “Golden Rule” in running. The 10% rule in running basically states that you should not increase your training volume by more than 10% from one week to the next.

In other words, if you are currently running 20 miles per week, you should run no more than 22 miles next week and 24.2 miles the following week.

This well-worn rule has stood the test of time for a reason—it tends to be sound advice for how to increase running distance safely from week to week.  There’s even some evidence that demonstrates the validity of the 10% rule. 

A study with 874 healthy novice runners who were followed over one year found that runners who increased their running volume by 30% or more over two weeks (roughly 15% per week) were more than 1.5 times as likely to sustain a running-related injury than runners who increased their mileage by less than 10%.

8 Tips For How To Increase Running Distance Safely

Slow Your Pace

Slowing down is the single best way to run farther without stopping. Running slower reduces the workload on the cardiovascular system, so it becomes easier to breathe. Moreover, running slower isn’t just a good tip for how to run further; it’s also a good tip for how to increase your run distance safely.

Any run is stressful on the body, as exercise is perceived as physiological stress. However, the further and faster you run, the greater the magnitude of this stress. 

High-intensity runs like speed workouts, tempo runs, hill repeats, fartleks, and even regular distance runs where you’re pushing the pace to the North side of “easy” are taxing on the body.

These workouts can increase the risk of injuries and overtraining, especially when not offset by adequate rest and recovery.

The key here is that you shouldn’t increase your intensity and distance at one time. So, if you want to increase how far you run, dial back on the speed. Once your body adapts to increased training volume, you can focus on bumping up that intensity again.

Then, when you’ve given your body a couple of weeks to adapt to those changes, you can again bump up your distance while simultaneously paring back speed again.

After your body has had a couple of weeks at the new weekly mileage, you can again look at adding more intensity. Note that dialling back intensity is referring to the pace of recovery workouts and long runs.

You can still keep your speed workouts—and doing so is beneficial for reducing overuse injuries—but you should be dialling back the pace of recovery and distance runs.

Polarize Your Training

This may seem to be contradictory to what was just said, but another important tip for how to safely increase your running distance is to polarize your training.

Polarizing your training involves taking your easy runs easy and your hard runs hard rather than floating around in the murky middle where all of your runs are run at roughly the same pace.

Where we were just discussing dialling back intensity, the emphasis here is really on dialling back the intensity of regular distance runs, not hard workouts.

Following the 80/20 method of running, where 80% of your mileage is done at an easy, conversational pace (about 90-120 seconds slower than the goal race pace) and 20% is hard, can reduce the risk of injuries because the bulk of your workout puts relatively little stress on your body.

Moreover, you’re able to fully recover between workouts, as your body is experiencing different paces and stresses, both of which reduce the risk of overuse injuries and overtraining syndrome.

Target the Long Run

Rather than unilaterally increasing the distance of every run on your schedule per week, target just the long run. This will isolate the added stress to just one workout rather than being an ongoing added stimulus every day of the week.

You have more to gain in terms of the physiological adaptations to your aerobic system by building your endurance and distance for your long runs. You can run further by gradually adding 1-2 miles to your longest run per week.

Step Up, Step Down

The 10% rule is a good place to start, but you shouldn’t constantly progress your distance every week. To reduce the risk of injury, it’s a good idea to make every third or fourth week a step-down week to give your tissues and body as a whole more recovery.

For example, if you are running 40 km per week, you can run up to 44 km the second week and roughly 48.4 km the third week. However, instead of bumping up to 53 km in the fourth week, you should step back down to 44 km and then begin another three-week progression from there.

Therefore, your second week would be 48.4 km, and your third week could be 53 km. Then you could drop down to 50 km or so and start a new build from there.

It doesn’t have to be an exact science in terms of the math you use for the step-down week, but taking a relatively easy week once a month is a good practice for keeping your body healthy.

Fuel Properly

Getting an adequate number of calories, plenty of each macronutrient and all the vitamins and minerals you need will ensure your body has the resources and fuel it needs to support your training and repair damage.

Support Your Recovery

You can reduce the risk of injury when you ramp up your mileage by taking care of your body. Foam roll, stretch, get enough sleep, ice sore tissues, fuel right after your workout, etc., to nurture your tired muscles.

Hit the Trails

Running on softer surfaces like trails, grass, cinder, and running tracks will reduce the impact stress (ground reaction force) that your feet and legs are subjected to when you run compared with running on hard surfaces such as asphalt roads or concrete. This can reduce the risk of stress injuries when you’re increasing your mileage.

However, if you don’t normally run on soft surfaces, you shouldn’t suddenly jump ship and start doing all of your training off-road. Ironically, this can increase the risk of injury because running on uneven surfaces such as trails and grass requires lots of stabilizing work from small muscles controlling your feet, ankles, and hips.

These muscles don’t have to work nearly as hard when you run on smooth surfaces like a treadmill or road, so they are prone to overuse injuries if you suddenly ramp up your mileage on uneven terrain.

To strike a happy medium, you can gradually start incorporating more of your increased running distance on softer surfaces or do one or two trail runs per week.

Another good option is to find running routes that enable you to take a trail or run along the grassy part of a park for a mile or two instead of running on the road. 

In this way, you create a hybrid run with some off-road mileage and some standard road terrain, which enables your body to have a variety of stresses and strains. This, in turn, reduces the repetitiveness of running, which usually leads to overuse injuries.

8. Replace Old Running Shoes

What runner doesn’t love a new pair of running shoes? Although it’s always important to run in shoes that are not worn out so that they provide plenty of support, if you are increasing your mileage, it’s particularly important to make sure your running shoes are in good shape.

Replace old running shoes every 300 to 500 miles, depending on your body weight, the durability of the shoe, your injury risk, and the terrain that you run on.

When your running shoes are too worn out, the materials that provide the support and cushioning your foot needs are no longer up to snuff.

This can increase the risk of injury and can make your legs feel heavy and tired because more of the vibrations or oscillations from running, as well as the impact shock, are transferred to your feet and legs.


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