If you want to know how to run for longer, you’re either frustrated with a very slow build or you need to increase your distance for an imminent race.
Either way, you’ll need to work out how to increase during distance without risking injury.
In this post, we’ll cover the main risks of injury, how you can improve performance and how to increase your running distance quickly.
What are the risks with building distance quickly?
The riskiest time for an endurance runner is when they are building their long run distance.
This is because of muscle fatigue leading to technique inefficiencies.
As your muscles get tired, they are no longer able to support good running technique.
This increases the load on specific areas of the body and begins a cycle of overload.
For example, as your glutes start to fatigue, your stride length will increase to compensate which will in turn overload your hamstrings.
How can you improve running performance?
The secret of how to run for longer is directly linked to your muscle strength and ability to maintain efficient technique.
So the secret to good running performance is strength training.
It’s not just for those looking to run faster but for anyone looking to run better.
Strength training for distance running should focus on single leg exercises with elements of control and strength.
You can find some examples of a distance running strength program here.
To ensure the strength program is effective, your strength should always be two steps ahead of your running volume.
This means that you should be strong enough for the running you’re doing and then some.
The best way to make sure that you’re strong enough for your current running volume is to add strength training at the end of your long run.
It doesn’t have to be the full program – even just a few sets is enough to test whether you still have strength in the legs after your long run.
If you struggle with the strength training, it’s a warning sign that your strength, and therefore technique efficiency, hasn’t lasted as long as your long run.
The best session to increase your running distance quickly
Let’s be honest: when you’re looking at how to run for longer, you want to get there as quickly as possible.
One of the most effective, and safest, long run sessions is a long run:walk.
In this session, you run for a set interval (usually 4 to 8 minutes) followed by a 2 minute walk break.
You can repeat as many cycles of this sequence as you need.
The 2 minute walk break serves to purposes: firstly it give your muscle the chance to recover and avoid fatigue.
Secondly, it works similar to an interval session, where you’ll start every running block with a lower heart rate and less oxygen supply to active muscles.
When you’re calculating how to run for longer with a run:walk format, work out your current long run time.
Then divide that time by the run interval of your run:walk.
So a 60min long run becomes 15 x 4min running intervals.
Add in your 2min rest breaks x 15 and you’ve got a 90min long run:walk session.
Because you have walking breaks to avoid muscle fatigue, you can probably round that up to 120 minutes quite safely.
So your 60min long run becomes a 120min long run:walk without additional risk.
And you’ll likely travel around 50% further in that time too!
Just like that, you’ve figured out how to run for longer in just two easy steps – strength training and run:walk.
Side note: this advice goes against the old “10% rule” for weekly increases. Read why that rule is wrong here!