How to Improve Running Distance and Speed
Running is one of the best exercises to help you improve the health of your body and lose weight. However, it is not uncommon to hit a rut and face difficulty improving your speed and duration. Avoid attempting to increase your speed first, especially if you are a beginner. Instead, focus on building your body’s ability to run on a regular schedule.
Frequency of Runs
When you begin running, you will need to allow your body time to adjust to its new activity level. Allow yourself one or two rest days between each run so your body can recover. It is generally recommended to start running three miles while taking walking breaks whenever needed. You do not need to worry about speed at this point.
Avoid increasing the frequency of your runs until you are able to run three miles continuously. Once you are able to comfortably run three miles, you can begin running more often. Skip one rest day a week and allow your body several weeks to adjust to the new schedule. At this point, you should be running five to seven days a week.
Once you are able to run three miles and have increased the frequency of your runs, you can start adding distance. Add extra mileage to one or two runs per week. You still want to be able to run with ease and may take short walking breaks if necessary. Calculate your average distance per week and only make small increases. If you feel you are being overworked, take a week to decrease the duration of your runs before building back up again.
Running Speed and Variation
You can begin focusing on the intensity of your runs after gradually increasing frequency and distance. Choose one run a week to begin focusing on intensity in intervals. Push yourself during that short interval, but don’t go overboard. You can also do a tempo run where you run faster than normal but still retain a sense of comfort and ease.
In addition to your one speed day, create variation in your other daily runs. One run might be long and slow. Several of your runs should be fairly easy so you can avoid pushing your body too hard every day; these recovery runs should be short and slow.
Before you can run faster, you need to run more often and for longer distances. Once your body is trained to run long distances, your speed will naturally begin to increase. At this point, you can begin adding variation into your runs to improve your speed without risking injury.