How to build endurance gradually and avoid injury when running long.
1 Slow your pace
You’ll save energy for those bonus kilometres by slowing your pace. You should feel comfortable and able to carry on a conversation. A good rule of thumb: Add 90 seconds to two minutes per mile to your normal pace.
2 Add mileage gradually
To keep injuries and burnout at bay, tack on no more than one to two kilometres at a time. (For marathoners, add no more than three to four kilometres per week.)
3 Do one long run per week
Pick a day to tackle a new distance (weekends tend to work best for most people). You don’t want to feel rushed to complete your run, so make sure you set aside enough time to get it done at an easy pace. Every three to four weeks, scale back your long run distance to avoid overtraining.
4 Go ahead, take walk breaks
You’ll still reap the endurance benefits of running non-stop. Before you know it, you’ll be able to run from start to finish.
5 Fuel the tank
On runs longer than an hour, bring along fuel that’s rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes. To keep your energy level consistent, start fuelling about 30 minutes into your run and refuel again every 15 to 20 minutes. Ease into it to train your stomach, and experiment with different products.
6 Break it up
Mentally, that is. Segment your run into manageable parts so that you’re not intimidated by the full distance. For instance, a 15-kilometre run could be thought of as three 5K runs.
7 Run a looped route or on a treadmill
Consider running a two- or three-kilometre loop so you can stay close to fuel, bathrooms or the finish line. You’ll avoid getting stuck far away from home on an out-and-back run or long loop if you need to quit unexpectedly. If you’re on the treadmill, set the incline to one per cent or two per cent to better simulate overcoming the wind resistance of running outdoors.
8 Be patient
Building endurance takes time. As Grete Waitz, nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon, put it, “Hurry slowly. Move ahead, but be patient.”