How to effectively increase running distance

Running is an integral part of training for any sport to improve stamina. Especially during off-season, strength and endurance training takes the majority of the focus. Training should be targeted and calculated to ensure proper progression and injury prevention. Let’s take a look on how to safely improve your running distance.

Especially with running, it can be tempting to go from running 1 or 2 miles each run to attempting to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) the next week. Increasing your running distance too quickly can lead to increase risk for injury.1 If you are injured, (hopefully not) you will lose valuable time rehabilitating when you could be training.

Off-season running training should be done with a good amount of time prior to the start of the season to avoid the feeling of needing to increase training (running) volume in a short period of time.

When considering how much to increase your miles by, many different components play into the equation such as prior training, endurance level, and health conditions to name a few. However, when looking at the novice runner/athlete, increasing your miles by 10% over a two-week period is a good estimate to use when training for a race or improving overall fitness. On the other end of the spectrum, increasing your miles by more than 30% over a two-week period has shown to have an increased risk for developing patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee), iliotibial band syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee), greater trochanteric bursitis, and injury to the gluteus medius or tensor fascia latae.1

Using the 10% increase, here is an example. Let’s say you are currently running 20 miles/wk, it is a good estimate to increase your miles to about 22 miles/wk in a two-week time-frame.  Looks like you can’t escape that math after all.

When it comes to training, lets all train smarter!

Written by: Robert Rojas PT, DPT