Thursday, December 15, 2011

After the Couch to 5k: Making Your Runs Longer

This is the third post of a three-part series. Here are the first two:


Every once in a while, after someone finishes the Couch to 5k, they have the strong and immediate realization they've caught the disease. The distance disease. It's such a strange thing--the fact that people want to run and run and run and run--but it's a true thing. A true thing without an explaination.

 I mean you have see Forrest Gump, right?

Most of the time, runners make one of two or three mistakes when they have the itch to add on distance:

1) They assume, that since they were mostly running the same work out 3 times a week during Couch to 5k, that they should keep running the same workout 3 times a week. So, if their goal is to work up to a 10 mile run, they're under the impression that they should do 3 10-milers every week.

2) The Couch to 5k maxes out around 10 miles per week of total running. Rather than tacking on a mile-or-so each week, some people mistakenly add a mile-or-so to every single run.

3) They jump right into the Bridge to 10k program--which is fine for some people, but way too much too soon (TMTS for short) for others.

The good news is, you don't have to be so intense to up your mileage as a distance runner. Here are a few rules to play by:

1) Stick with 1 long run each week (tack .5-1 miles to the long run each week until you reach your goal), 1 medium run (65-75ish% of your long run), and fill in the rest of the week with easy runs. You can add a tempo run and some speed work if you want to get faster, too.

2) You don't have to stick with a 3 day training schedule. A good way to increase your total mileage is by increasing the number of days you run.

3) There's no need to rush. If you want to be a life-long distance runner, take it slowly. I like to have brand new runners focus on the 5k distance for at least 6 months before bumping it up to the 10k. I think a half marathon is a great goal after a year.

4) Before you set a major distance goal, work your way up. In other words, before you register for a half marathon, run a 10k. Before you register for a marathon, run a half marathon. And before you register for an ultra, see a good therapist, a good life insurance agent, and a good attorney who has experience drafting up wills.

5) Give yourself a mileage cutback week every third or forth week. Either cut your long run in half, or scrap it all together.

6) Replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. You'll buy new shoes all. the. time.

7) Just have fun with it. If you're starting to dread your long runs, take a hiatus and focus on something shorter.

8) Try to take in 100-200 calories ever 45-or-so minutes. Gatorade, Gu, and Power Bars all work for keeping you moving.

9) If you feel an injury coming on, back off for a week or two.

10) If people ask ridiculous questions like, "Why do you run so much?" Just ask them something back, like, "Why don't you?"

Here's a sample 2-week plan for a Couch to 5k grad who's looking to run farther. This example assumes that they can already run about 5 miles in a single pop.

MONDAY - 3 miles
TUESDAY - 4 miles
THURSDAY - 4 mile tempo run
SATURDAY - 5.5 miles

MONDAY - 3 miles
TUESDAY - 4.25 miles
THURSDAY - Speed Workout (6-half mile repeats)
SATURDAY - 6.25 miles

Questions on going farther? Post 'em in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amy! Very random, but any chance you're going back to Vermont this year? I just found out I'm going back again, so hoping maybe to catch up longer this year :)