When you’re starting any new sport, it’s smart to build up slowly, and it’s especially important with an impact sport like running. If you do too much too soon, you are likely to burn or injure yourself. So, if you’re looking to increase your running time, you need to start with a plan.
For the tips you need to build your race, Coach spoke with Olympian and Runna coach Steph Kessell.
How do you run more safely?
“There are two things I want to emphasize here. If you search online or talk to many coaches, they will say that the general rule is “10% every week”. Add 10% on the mileage of your previous week a next week
“But I always take this with a pinch of salt. Adding 10% in the early stages of your training is probably OK. It’s pretty safe. However, as your mileage increases, it ends up being a lot. If you run 60 km a week and then add 6km the following week, progress from there is a big deal.
“It is best to follow a running training plan that guides you through a slow and progressive build-up. At Runna, for example, we have two running plans for beginners or to resume running. These focus on starting with a series of walking/running intervals, which people often find quite painful, although it’s actually the best way to build your run. It allows your body to adapt to the load.
“You could use the 10% rule, but it would probably only work if you ran three or four times a week max.”
What are good distance goals for people starting out?
“I started with time rather than distance, the reason is that it takes many different people to run a distance. If you are a new runner and it takes 20 minutes to run 3 km, it is a long time for your first run . If you changed to the time and added walking intervals, you could be out for about 20 minutes, but you could be just six to 10 minutes. So the goal would be to gradually build those running time intervals and reduce the intervals of walk
Are you building distance and intensity at the same time?
“It’s addictive when you’re on training apps like Strava. You look at your graphs and you want the weekly mileage to increase progressively. Actually, it’s not the healthiest way to do it. You have to strive for consistency.
“If you can run 20km for a few weeks and then build up to 24km for a few weeks, that’s a much better way to do it if you want to run long-term. You reduce the risk of injury, and you can increase the intensity at the same time. Instead if you are trying to add distance and intensity, which will increase your chance of injury.”
Can everyone benefit from a training plan to get started?
“It is useful for many reasons. It controls you and prevents you from doing too much too quickly. Also, to have a structure in your training, it helps to motivate you and keep you accountable to do it. Otherwise, you may stay with something for a few of days, a few weeks, and then decrease. Whereas, if you have something that tells you what to do, then you don’t have to think about it.
Can cross-training help you run longer?
“I’m a fan of cross-training runners. When I went to the Olympic Games, cross-training was a feature of my training plan. It was something I did every day. It was also something I did when I had for the first time in proper training. I was only running three or four times a week, but, in addition, I went to the gym either for the weight training circuit or non-impact training such as swimming and cycling .
“These types of movements and exercises can be done while building your race, because you remove that load and you have less stress through the body. It is a good way to improve aerobic fitness and your endurance, but also to develop strength in the your muscles and joints.
“If you do a lot of cross-training, also make sure you sleep well and recover well in between, because these things help your body adapt to the training you do.”
How do you fuel longer runs?
“If you’re out for a training session that lasts more than an hour, make sure you think about your fuel during it. I usually use isotonic gels. I take it every 30 to 35 minutes during a long run.
“Don’t train fasted. I know it’s a great thing because people talk about training their body to run on fat, but when you wake up, your cortisol levels, which are your stress levels, are at its higher. So if you go out without eating to exercise, which is basically stress on the body, it puts stress on your body. Fueling takes some of that and helps with energy levels and recovery.
“Where it could vary is for someone who doesn’t train much and they are limited for time and they go for a short and easy run – then you can do it fasting. In any case, I think if you follow a training plan and you are an active person , besides that you have a busy job, a lot on your plate, and your sleep is not optimal, then definitely avoid that fasted training.
“The fuel later requires concentration. It is more important for people who do a lot of training. Be aware of that refueling because it helps with your recovery, which will then have an impact on the next session.
“Try for a balanced diet. If you are someone who maybe struggles to maintain a certain weight, then it is about being balanced with what you eat. Usually we are aware of what makes us put on weight, but when you are training, be aware that you need fuel. Don’t starve.”
What are your tips for getting through long runs?
“Plan your route. You need to know where you’re going, because if you go out aimlessly you don’t always know what the distance will be. You can end up doing block turns and it’s not fun. If you can get someone to join you you, which keeps you accountable and also makes the time go faster. Plan something nice for after the run, whether it’s brunch or a stop at a favorite coffee shop, this gives you something to look forward to during the run.
“Try not to be afraid of paces, splits, times and distances. Focus on the effort and start within yourself. I believe that many people think that when they start running that every race should be hard. Actually, most of your training is easy to run. To start, the race may not be easy, but the more you do it, the more you learn about the rhythms and zones. As a result, you will be able to better evaluate your effort.
“The best way to judge an easy race is, can you hold a conversation? It’s a simple way to make sure that your easy races are easy. It’s also how every race should start because we need to warm up in them. You should never start too much fast. Don’t put pressure on yourself to hit specific beats or splits at the beginning. Settle in. If you’re not running with other people, getting a good playlist together is great, like a podcast. It keeps you distracted – or it can inspire you!”
To help you decide on the right gel for you, visit our guide to the best running gels.
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