That leads me to consistency. Before you can run a ton of injury-free miles, you need to be consistent with your running. If you are able to run 5-7 days a week without pain, and without feeling drained by the end of the week, then mileage can be added. Too many people skip weekly runs, just to hammer out way too many miles on the weekend. This isn’t sustainable in the long run. It is good to have days and even weeks off, but not every weekday, leading to a major catch up on the weekend.
Now onto recovery. I often have a training cycle, which for me means, I run 2 or 3 weeks adding in mileage-followed by one “off” week. For example, if I run 75 miles week 1 then I will run 80 miles week two, 85 miles week three, and (depending on how hard I ran those miles) 30-50 miles on week 4. In each of those weeks I also work in some easy days. If Monday I run 16 miles hard, then Tuesday I may just jog or even walk and jog 5 miles. That Tuesday is my recovery day, so I let my body dictate how far I will go by feel. I also put food under recovery because it helps our bodies recover. I like to make a smoothie with whole foods after my runs, my standard is frozen berries, frozen banana, coconut milk, juice, ginger, cinnamon, spirulina, avocado and some greens. I think eating a lot of whole foods, and still having your favorite indulgence once and awhile is key.
A strong core, good posture, and correct form are also important to stay uninjured when ramping up your mileage. As we get tired, our gait tends to become sloppy, and a sloppy gait is a recipe for disaster. Planks, single leg squats, and bridges are just a few of the core exercises I try to do on my workout days. For me, a correct gait is standing tall with a neutral pelvis, landing mid foot, and letting my heel softly touch before push off. This can also be called “natural” running.
Finally there is love, or drive, or determination, or whatever you want to call it. There has to be a reason you are getting your shoes on to get out there and run. Without it, there can be no consistency or patience, or really any injury-free mileage gains. If you are out there grinding out miles and not having any fun, you will sabotage yourself. This is also why flexibility is important. Cycling, swimming, pilates, barre, yoga… help your fitness. Be flexible and allow yourself to try other types of workouts. Perhaps you are stuck in a rut, or the weather is just terrible..don’t force the run day in and day out. Try something new, allow yourself to really miss running when you aren’t training for something specific and feeling a slump coming on.
I hope this inspires you to get out there and go further than you have in the past! Happy Spring!