How to Safely Increase Your Running Distance - Scott Cathcart

Many experienced runners will tell you that following the 10 percent rule is the best way to increase your running distance. This means that you should increase your mileage by 10 percent every week. For example, if you’re running 10 miles one week, you should plan to run 11 miles next week. That can be an effective way to increase your running distance if you’re in good shape and you’re used to running regularly, but not if you’re not used to running long distances.


If you’re not used to running regularly, following the 10 percent rule will only lead to an injury. Instead of pushing yourself right away and focus on how far you can run every week, focus instead on how many days you spend running every week. Run between three and four days every week, and run the same distance every time for about three weeks. The goal is to get your body used to distance running, which takes more time than people realize or want to admit to themselves. Once you’ve been able to run the same distance for three weeks consistently, you can start following the 10 percent rule and increasing your distance.


As you increase your running distance, pay attention to your body. Feeling fatigued towards the end of your run is normal, but if you start to feel any pain, give yourself a rest. Either take some time off from your running routine or run shorter distances until you feel like you can run without any pain. Some pain may be weakness leaving the body, but it’s also a sign that you’re headed for an injury that could leave you unable to run for several weeks.


If you’re running along an unfamiliar trail, don’t be afraid to take things slow. Run for shorter distances until you can get a feel for what’s ahead of you. Once you’re sure that your new running trail is safe and you know what you can expect, you can start to run at your usual pace. Checking out a new trail should be exciting in itself; you don’t need to ruin things with a possible injury.