I hope this post finds you all warm and well! The sun finally came out again here in Boston this week!
Sadly I am still nursing a calf injury, so I haven’t been able to jog outside a whole lot. Even so, I’m mentally preparing to start marathon training next month. This one-month break to rest my calf and, you know, chill out a bit makes it so I’ve got to re-build my milage before the marathon in October. Now, I have a pretty solid base for my marathon training, as I’ve run a couple of half marathons this spring. But I’ve still got work to do!
Everyone fears longer runs when they’re training for a race, but what really gets to me is the repeated daily runs, and the ongoing increase of milage as you move towards the big day. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past, upping my milage too quickly, fueling incorrectly, or adding too much speed into the mix, which resulted in injuries and just straight-up burnout.
I’ve learned a whole lot from trial and error- or is it trial and injury? So I’m here to share my top 10 tips for building milage.
- Start Early: This is especially important for longer races. Most marathon or half-marathon training programs are 12-18 weeks long. I’m telling you right now; these programs assume that you’re already running at least 15-20 miles a week. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to running short distances several times a week before you even jump into a formal training plan. So an 18-week plan might end up being more like a 25-week plan, but believe me IT IS WORTH IT.
- Don’t Skip Mid-Week Runs: I used to hit a spin class Tuesday, maybe run a few miles on Wednesday, consider some zumba on Thursday, then force myself to run 10+ miles on Saturday. This made me super slow, and super not-ready for my longer races. If you’re training for a half or a full marathon, you need to be running at least 3-4 times a week, one of those being a long run. Even if you’re working towards a shorter distance, consistency is key.
- Don’t Get All Diet-y: So, I’ll go into this in another post someday, when I’m ready, but I sometimes struggle with rigidity around my food consumption. I often eat pretty low carb/low cal. But I have learned that training cycles are not the time to deprive yourself of essential fuel. Don’t go wild with the sweets, but take in sensible carbs, make sure to get enough protein and calcium, and make sure to replace electrolytes during and after your runs.
- Don’t Overthink Your Gear: I absolutely love my super tech-y running socks and my newest pair of running shoes and my most supportive sports bra. But if all those things are dirty or not available, I go with plan B and head outside! Your gear does not define your ability, so don’t let it keep you from logging the miles. aka RULE #76: NO EXCUSES PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION!
- Don’t Fear the Treadmill: Once upon a time, new runner Kerri claimed that she “couldn’t stand” the treadmill. She also skipped her training runs whenever it was raining, snowing, icy, over 85 degrees, or below 20 degrees…
Don’t miss your training runs because of the weather. Hit the treadmill. just do it. Just deal. Watch HGTV on the little screen or get a machine near a window and pretend you’re outside.
- Take REAL Rest Days: I still struggle to adhere to this rule. If you run over 10 miles, take the next day off. Beside 1-3 miles of light walking, you shouldn’t be trying to get too much exercise. I’ve done long hikes and walks right after long runs in the past, and I always end up with tendonitis or persistent soreness. Just REST. For reals. It’ll help you long the miles in the long run.
- Listen to Your Body: Another piece of advice I struggle with: If you are in pain, take some time off. Don’t run through it. See an orthopedist. Take care of yourself!
- Mix It Up: In order to build milage, you need to run regularly. That said, it doesn’t- and probably shouldn’t- be every day. Cross training is an essential part of building milage without getting injured or burnt out. I love heading to a spin class once or twice a week in lieu of jogging, or hopping on an elliptical when I’m feeling a little worn-out. You can’t only cross train and expect to be able to build your milage, but you definitely should mix it up once or twice a week.
- Schedule it Out: When I am in training mode, I sit down every Monday morning and plan out my workouts for the week. If I have a friend’s party on Saturday night, I’ll make sure to block out some time on Saturday morning for my long run, then adjust my weight training and speedwork accordingly. I use my iCal or planner to specify the exact timing for my workouts each day, and check for possible conflicts. I’ve found that when I leave it open ended- “I have to run 7 miles at some point today!” I don’t get the run done. But when I make it specific- “I’m going to run 7 miles after work at 3pm, then meet mom for dinner at 6,”- I am SO much more likely to jog. It takes a ton of thought and commitment, but it’s worth it.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up: Every once in a while, you’re going to have a run that falls flat. Your stomach will cramp up, or you’ll be sleep deprived from a rough week at work, and you just…won’t be able to finish. It happens. It shouldn’t be happening that often; maybe once every 3-ish weeks. But if you don’t make your milage sometimes, don’t freak out. Just get some rest, adjust your training schedule (if you couldn’t eek out 10 miles today, don’t shoot for 12 next week. Try for 10 again!) and get back out there, champ!