9 Tips on How to Run Longer

Ultrarunners and coaches share their best advice for building mileage without getting injured.


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Whether you want to progress from a 5K to a half marathon or a marathon to an ultra, a few general rules on how to run longer can help you get there.

While building mileage and time on your feet is paramount, the key to doing it successfully involves patience and persistence. “As much as volume matters—volume is king—too much volume too soon can get you on the sidelines,” Bertrand Newson, RRCA-certified run coach and founder and team captain of Too Legit Fitness, based in San Jose, California, tells Runner’s World.

Follow these tips from Newson and other coaches and ultramarathoners to successfully increase your mileage, avoid injuries, and crush your longest distances.

1. Build a Base, Then Keep It Consistent

“I steadily built up to running 250-mile races over many years, but I started by running one mile at a time,” says Sarah Ostaszewski, pro ultrarunner with Tailwind Nutrition who won the 2023 Ouray 100-Mile Endurance Run. “Build a strong base and try to keep a consistent running routine, so then adding a little extra here and there won’t seem so daunting.”

Base training typically requires about four to eight weeks (before following a race training schedule) to strengthen your cardiovascular system and your muscles, but the longer you can regularly run and set a foundation, the better. Your base work should involve mostly easy runs, low mileage, and maybe low-key speedwork (depending on your fitness level), like ending a run with strides. This part of your training is all about consistency, rather than actually building mileage.

Ultrarunner Mirna Valerio stays consistent by focusing on time on her feet, rather than distance. “This has been mentally freeing,” the author of A Beautiful Work in Progress tells Runner’s World.

“I have a standing appointment with my treadmill a couple times a week,” says Valerio, who will aim to run a minimum of 12 hours a day over six days at the Lululemon Further event, an ultramarathon for women in March. “I just get it done, which incidentally is one of my mantras.”

2. Find Your Best Approach to Building Volume

If you’re new to running and want to run longer, add another day of a short, easy run to your schedule, suggests Stefanie Flippin, an ultrarunner, Lululemon ambassador, and doctor of podiatric medicine, who has earned a first-place finish at several 160 killometre runs.

Maxed out on available days of the week? Add to your long-run mileage, which is what Leah Yingling, ultrarunner and biochemical engineer who will see how far she can run in 24 hours at Lululemon Further, does first when aiming to build volume. The general rule is to increase your weekly mileage by about 10 percent each week, adding to that long run. For example, if you currently clock 27 kilometres per week with three four-six kilometre runs during the week and a long run of eight kilometres on the weekend, you would keep your midweek mileage the same, but kick up your long run to about seven miles next weekend.

Yingling, and many other pros, also do two runs a day. While this won’t work for everyone, if you don’t have a significant single block of time, clocking some kilometres in the morning and again in the evening and resting between can help you clock more mileage. One must-do to make it work: Tame the intensity on at least one of those runs.

Charlie Lawrence, 80 kilometre world record holder, views his second run of the day as a sort of active recovery. He often goes for double digits in the mornings, then runs for about six kilometres (at minimum) in the evening, keeping the effort light.

No matter what, testing out strategies to see what works for your schedule is the best way to run longer. “That might be adding a walk a few days a week in addition to your daily runs, or maybe you’re adding back-to-back long runs,” says Yingling. “Whatever you do, find something that is sustainable.”

3. Follow a Progressive Training Plan

A good training plan will slowly build mileage to decrease your risk of getting sidelined, as research shows taking on too many kilometres too soon is one of the biggest risk factors for overuse injuries.

When choosing your training plan, you have to be realistic about the time you have to build up to the distance you want to conquer—and where you’re at now, says Newson. For example, if you have your sights set on a half or full marathon, think about what you can comfortably run today. Then, following the loose rule of adding 10 percent more kilometres each week, how long do you need to train? If you currently run eight kilometres without stopping and feel good after, and can comfortably clock 19 kilometres per week, you can probably conquer a 10-week half marathon plan.

Another important factor to look for when it comes to mileage on a training plan: recovery weeks. Newson explains you’ll typically see this as three weeks of building, then a week in which you back off mileage a little to give your body time to recover and actually make gains from all the work you put into your plan. This will also keep your body strong and help you sidestep aches and pains, he adds.

4. Keep Easy Runs Easy

You’ve heard it before but it’s especially true when trying to run longer: Don’t overdo your low-effort days.

“It’s important for me to always run my easy runs, short or long, at a conversational, aerobic rate of perceived exertion. This means that I can easily chat with a training partner for the duration of my runs without becoming out of breath,” Flippin says, who also clocks her heart rate to make sure she’s in an easy zone.

Don’t worry about what shows on Strava, either. “I think a lot of runners run their easy runs too hard and that is because of ego and they don’t want people to think they are slow,” says Devon Yanko, ultrarunner who’s placed first in several 160 kilometre races and will aim to conquer her longest distance over six days at the Lululemon Further event. “I delight in the idea that people may look at my Strava and think I am too slow, because on race day that won’t be the case!”

More generally, applying the 80/20 rule to your training overall can also help you record more low-intensity runs, Newson says, as it means 80 percent of your workouts should happen at a low intensity, and 20 percent at a hard effort.

It’s these easy runs that will help keep you running consistently—the key that unlocks higher mileage. “A B+ average of consistent runs, strength work, and recovery measures stacked over weeks, months, and years will always trump sporadic A+ weeks followed by a total drop-off,” Flippin says.

5. Master the Long Run

For most people, the long run will make up the bulk of your weekly mileage, but it doesn’t just help you clock more time on your feet. It also teaches you mental stamina, how to deal with fatigue, and it can help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. With years of practice, this is what many pros say pulls them through farther distances.

Even though Lawrence can deal with being uncomfortable for long periods of time, he still turns to mind games to mentally check off kilometres. For example, he often breaks a race down into small, manageable chunks, often focusing on the next fuel stop (typically about every six kilometres) as a check point. If he’s struggling to get to the next six-kilometre marker, he may tell himself he’ll feel better in 10 to 15 minutes and checks in again then.

In addition to breaking your long run up into segments, Newson also suggests dedicating each kilometre to someone else, which takes it outside of yourself and gives you another reason to keep going, and says to focus on the kilometre you’re in, simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Finally, the long run is the perfect time to practice your fueling and fluid intake, Newson says, considering you need energy to clock longer kilometres. Aim to take in carbs when going for 90 minutes or longer, and go for about 30 to 60 grams per hour after the first hour.

6. Schedule a Few Harder Workouts

To build endurance, you want to run long, but you can also add intervals and speed work into your schedule.

Lawrence gets on the track for VO2 max-specific workouts at least once a week. VO2 max is the amount of oxygen you can take in while running and is a major marker of fitness—the better this metric, the easier running will feel, which will help you go longer with less effort. Focusing on VO2 max intensities on runs means going for about 90 to 100 percent of your max heart rate or about 5K pace, and it could involve intervals like 400-meter repeats.

You could also focus on lactate threshold training. Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body produces lactate at a rate you can no longer clear, leading to fatigue. To help you prolong that side effect—helping you go faster for longer—practice running at your threshold pace. (Here’s how to calculate your running speed at lactate threshold).

To do this, Ostaszewski prefers longer interval workouts with work periods ranging from six to 10 minutes near aerobic threshold. But tempo runs at your threshold speed are also smart.

7. Supplement Your Runs With Mobility and Strength

Before you jump into high mileage, you need a solid warmup. Lawrence has been doing the same activation drills before runs for a long time. He starts with foam rolling most of the lower body, then does a series of exercises, like:

  • Leg swings
  • Down dog to lunge rotation
  • Ankle mobility moves
  • Banded work, like glute bridges

This go-to routine wakes him up and gets him in run mode, even when he’s not feeling it.

Cross-training workouts are also key. Valerio mixes strength training, mobility workouts, Pilates, and rowing into her training schedule, which she says helps her avoid overuse injuries. Meanwhile, Flippin points to strength training in particular as crucial to running longer. She suggests starting with one day a week to build consistency, then adding on days from there.

Lawrence focuses specifically on doing core workouts every day (one of his go-to moves: the ab roll out), along with dedicated gym time for lifting, in which he conquers moves like hex bar deadlifts.

8. Make Recovery a Priority

Many pro runners turn to a solid nutrition practice to jumpstart recovery and fuel future performances. “I ensure I’m always getting in carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of finishing a key workout or long run,” Yingling says.

Finding time for other recovery practices, like mobility work, foam rolling, even meditating, can also support your training and get you prepped for the next round of mileage, Newson says. Full rest days are also important, especially if you’re feeling any aches and pains.

And you can’t forget about sleep for recovery—striving for at least the recommended seven to nine hours—especially for those looking to push their mileage.

9. Don’t Rely on Motivation Alone

Running your longest distance takes dedication and determination, but don’t expect to feel motivated every day. “People often wait to do things until they are motivated, when instead, they should have been focused on completing their plan or working toward their goal,” says Yanko. “I don’t jump out of bed every morning peppy and excited to run, but I am committed to doing the work and thus, I simply get the work done.”

Yanko also suggests tapping into curiosity to keep you going longer. “That is, instead of being intimidated by a workout or long run, I allow myself the opportunity to be curious about what might happen if I simply begin the session,” she says. “I do not believe that one workout or one long run ‘proves’ anything about my fitness or ability to race, so having curiosity means I can get into a session and allow it to unfold with confidence that if I just continue to show up and do the work, I will build my fitness brick by brick.”

Newson also suggests a running group to keep you accountable and consistent, and to elevate the fun of your workouts.

“On the mental side, I always try to see the big picture and remember that all the kilometres I’m running are for fun and for my own personal enjoyment,” Ostaszewski adds. “I’m always aiming to enjoy the process and recognize growth in the journey.”

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