You get too eager, you push yourself to do the extra mile or five, and you pay the price: sore muscles, maybe even an injury like plantar fasciitis or heel pain that keeps you sidelined for a month or two. If your body isn’t ready for what you demand of it, your body will definitely fight back – or snap, strain, or break.
Not that you shouldn’t push yourself – that’s always a good thing. But you need to ease your body into longer runs and more distance gradually. Here then is some great advice from Runner’s World on the smartest ways to increase your endurance.
1. When adding miles to your routine, slow your pace. This saves energy for the bonus miles. A good rule of thumb is to add 90 seconds to 2 minutes for each additional mile. You should also increase miles gradually, no more than one to one and a half at a time. If you’re an experienced marathon runner, you can push that a bit.
2. Run/Walk combo is okay. When you’re building endurance, it’s okay to take walk breaks during your run. You’ll still get the cardio benefits, and eventually you’ll be able to run the entire distance. But don’t make the walk breaks longer than one minute, or you may cool down too far.
3. If you’re running for more than one hour, especially in summer, take fuel with you. Gels and chews that are high in carbs and electrolytes will keep your blood sugars in the normal range and help you avoid fatigue. You also need to drink water with these products to avoid stomach upset and to keep you hydrated. Dehydration is an extremely serious problem when running in the heat, and can deliver many ill effects. Don’t tempt fate.
4. If the distance you want to achieve is intimidating, break it up into more manageable segments – think of a 10-miler as two 5-mile runs, or five 2-mile runs.
5. Use an outdoor track to extend your run, so you’re close to lavatories. This is a safety net in case you can’t make the distance – you won’t be stuck far from home or transportation. Having to walk a few miles back to your starting point when you’re exhausted is full of risks.
6. Be patient. Your body doesn’t adapt overnight, especially as you reach middle age. Push slowly but consistently.