How to Go the (Next) Distance

© Uptall | Dreamstime.com

© Uptall | Dreamstime.com

Tackling a new distance is both scary and invigorating. Testing your body to reach new limits can give purpose to your training and allow you to set future goals along the way. Plenty of runners continue running and never have the desire to race.

But for those that enjoy crossing a finish line and sharing in the camaraderie of the sport, racing can be a great way to achieve new distance goals.

For those runners seeking to complete a new furthest distance via racing, I have a few suggestions to make your finish line story a happy one:

1) Build gradually

Maybe it seems obvious, but respect the distance. A 5K runner shouldn’t sign up for a marathon unless he/she is prepared to tackle the training runs necessary to complete all 26.2 miles. For some runners, building to the next distance can take months. Others might take years.

2) Check the boxes

There is no rule that you need to race the popular distances offered in mileage order (5K, 10K, 13.1 miles, 26.2 miles, etc.), but you should be able to complete the prior one in a training run. If a 10K is your goal, you should be able to easily finish a 5K. If a marathon is next on the bucket list, 13.1 miles should be achievable during a training run.

3) Long run, long run, long run

Do them. Mentally, this is the biggest challenge you will face on race day. If you’ve completed 10 miles on a training run at least threee times before your first half marathon, it will be far easier to believe in your body on race day.

4) Actually rest on rest days

Take them for your body. Take them for your mental health. Take them so you don’t become the person that only ever talks about running. Just don’t take too many of them.

5) Find your own equation

Everyone is different. Some runners can handle high mileage, some are injury-prone and can only manage the bare minimum. But a good rule of thumb is to be able to complete approximately 80 percent of your goal race mileage in a training run.

A runner looking to finish a 5K should be able to handle 2.5 miles before racing. Those training for a 50K should be able to tackle 25 miles.

Additionally, your weekly mileage totals should be about 20 percent more than your total distance on race day. For example, marathoners should aim to complete 32 miles in their peak weeks.

6) Find your motivator

Put money on the line by signing up for a race. Post your goal on Facebook. Make a weekly standing date with a running buddy. Put your goal into action and watch your dream become reality.

7) Know that success is not linear

I’ve had days, weeks, heck years that running has been hard. Instead of being frustrated that it’s not easy and fun all the time, I have learned to use this as a training tool. There will be parts of your training and parts of your race that will be hard.

You will want to stop. But as long as you are healthy and moving forward, keep going. The reward is so much sweeter when you have crossed all those hurdles with your own two feet.

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