Matt Dorber, local Bristol Running Coach and regular runner with Queen Square Run Club, gives us his advice on how to increase distance. This second installment in his series of educational blog posts covers more top tips ahead of the Bristol Run Series 10k which starts next week.
The series launched in January and after the incredible success of the 5k, we’re thinking ahead to our 10k, 15k, and half-marathon. Whether you’re looking for advice to help you on your virtual 10k over the next couple of weeks, or looking ahead to the in-person inflatable 15k, you can make use of this expert advice!
This time, Matt talks how to work increased distances into your training plan, listening to your body, and looking after your mental wellbeing.
Tip 1 – The 10% Rule
The rule of thumb with increasing mileage when running is usually a 10% increase each week. However this doesn’t have to be strict – everyone is different. Some people follow training plans that are distance based, others time based, so it’s often difficult to know how much to increase by.
Often when I’m writing training plans for people, the emphasis is on the weekly ‘LSR’ (long slow run). This is increasing time on feet. It’s never a hard effort; always keep the pace on your distance runs very low (6/10 max effort). The aim with each long run should be to finish knowing you had more in the tank, so if you run 80 minutes one week, you can push that up to 90 minutes the following.
Tip 2 – Listen to your body – it’s ok to not hit every mile on the plan
We touched on the last blog post about having patience, and how important it is when running. Your body will need time to adapt when you start increasing the mileage, it’s not an overnight process. Equally, we’re not all ‘one size fits all’ – some people might have a sports background and adapt to running really quickly, others may be running for the first time.
Think of a training plan as a ‘training guide’. It may say on your plan that this Sunday is 80 minutes, but what if you didn’t sleep properly the night before? What if you’ve got shin splints, or some general muscle soreness? You’ll make more progress by paying attention to your body and knowing what’s good for it – dropping a run down to 30 minutes or skipping it all together won’t hurt you, it can actually help you in the long term.
Tip 3 – Strength!
Often so overlooked, and yet strength work can be so beneficial to a runner. Think of the last 10 to 15 minutes of a difficult run, when your posture starts to slump, and your running form becomes sloppy as you just want to cross the line. Working on your core strength can tighten up and improve your posture, keeping you stronger for longer periods.
The majority of running injuries are caused by a muscle imbalance or weakness on one side. By strengthening your quadriceps, your calf muscles and your core, you’re not only improving your overall running form, but you’re reducing the risk of injury.
Tip 4 – Build your Training plan around life, and not the other way around
You’ve found yourself a training plan that will get you to your first 10k. That’s great, but it’s 5 days a week of running, and you already have a social life, a job, other hobbies, and plans for the summer. Before you’ve even begun, it’s already become a chore.
When training for any event it’s important to be realistic – you can run 5 days a week, but will your mental health suffer? Will you still have enough time to see friends and focus on other things you enjoy? Running, like any sport, is a hobby – keep it fun!
Whether you are completely new to running, returning after a break or a season pro, it’s still not too late to sign up for the Bristol Run Series. You can take part alone or as a group with your friends, housemates and colleagues. We want as many people as possible to feel like they belong in our Run Series community, so don’t let the fear of running, or being too slow, or being a beginner, stop you enjoying being a part of it.