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Whether you’re aiming to run a 5K or an ultra marathon, logging miles can be daunting—no matter the skill level.
The very first mile I ever ran was the hardest eight minutes of my life. However it was the most amazing, free-feeling moment in my life. But that was just one mile. The moment I wanted to try a half marathon, I panicked, as many beginner runners do. How the heck am I supposed to run that 13 miles?!
Regardless of how many miles or races you have under your belt, increasing mileage can be tricky. There are many training plans to choose from to help you reach your mileage goal. Some increase weekly, while others focus on monthly. So what’s the secret?
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Emma Coburn, a 2012 Olympian and 2016 hopeful in the steeplechase, was used to only running about 15 miles per week in high school. When she made her way to University of Colorado, the task to get 85 miles per week under her belt seemed daunting.
Coburn’s coaches created a running plan: increase miles slowly. Every few months, she would up her mileage.
The summer before her freshman year of school, she started at 35 miles per week. Every few months, she increased that number by five miles. Over the course of 5 years, she slowly reached that 85 mile goal.
“I slowly transitioned. Every few weeks I was bumping up my mileage. It took me five years to build up to 85 miles per week, but I never had an injury—until my last week of college,” expresses Coburn. “It might seem frustrating at times, but really taking it slow is the best method.”
Coburn says runners should map out their goals. “I think for the everyday runner, it’s important to have a plan for several months that will take you to your mileage goal. Just commit to that and add distance every three months.”
Don’t look at the time it took you to run the distance. Instead listen to your body. “If your body isn’t feeling it, then back off. Your body will tire out or you’ll burn out if you do too much too soon,” says Coburn.
In addition, Coburn says you need to warm up the body, no matter how many miles you run. Try these drills before your run:
- Donkey kicks
- Bird dogs
- Hip bridges
“These drills fire up my glutes and get them ready to work,” Coburn shares. “These moves make me feel fresher and smooth during the run.”
Follow this action plan to increase miles safely:
- Write down your mileage goal.
- Map out your increase timeframe and stick to it.
- Commit to the miles and don’t worry about time. “Time will come later,” expresses Coburn.
- Always, always do dynamic warm-ups to open up the hip flexors and loosen up your legs.
- Give yourself some time to stretch and foam roll after your run—this will help you avoid any injury.
- Hydrate and feed your body with good-for-you nutrients to keep your energy up and inflammation down.
Related: 6 Ways To Build Endurance