For almost two years I was running the same mileage every couple of days with minimal or no progress at all. I thought this was completely normal, to stay on the same cadence, pace and time was no big deal. Small progress is still progress, right?
Then I plateaued even more.
You probably know the feeling. Sometimes it just feels beyond your ability to push further for more mileage or to run faster. But unless you work on that ability, you won’t progress. I tried to ignore this realisation and persevered with repeating the same exhausting workouts over and over again. The breaking point came when I took up obstacle racing – something had to change if I wanted to excel and even compete.
So how did I work on my ability to run further and faster? We’ll discuss 3 easy solutions you can start with today and they’re more realistic and entertaining than trying to run long distances on every run. When nothing else has worked, we need a little reminder to push ourselves during every run to just gain that extra bit, in mileage or speed. It’s the small wins!
Strength training & HIIT
You can improve your performance and add extra miles by skipping those extensive training sessions hitting the tarmac
Let’s start with the most important change to break any plateau and add extra miles – high intensity and strength training. Although it might seem counterintuitive, by replacing one or two of your endurance runs with weighted sprints, hill runs and general HIIT activities you could actually boost your endurance so much that you’ll surprise yourself the next time you have to ‘endure’. HIIT based workouts are perfect to increase an athlete’s VO2Max, keeping body lean and strengthen skeletal muscles.
The well-known obstacle race athlete Ben Greenfield in his book ‘Beyond Training‘ (review to come shortly!) defines this as polarised training. It is the perfect way to optimise your training for distance and endurance if you’re busy and can’t train for hours. His take and general protocol for running further without grinding your teeth away includes 20% of very hard anaerobic training and around 80% of easier, aerobic endurance training. There are multiple variables involved in this equation together with varied intensity, however the biggest takeaway is still: stepping away from the tarmac could be more beneficial for your endurance than pushing on with those lengthy runs.
My favourite method is involves sandbag carry / running splits which we’ve discussed before. This way I can skip the boring grind and switch things up whilst still working towards my mileage goals.
Try it out, it does boost your performance quite significantly.
Collect your miles in the ‘normal’ running races
This is by far my favourite training and life hack to collect more miles without sacrificing my social life or professional performance. Not all of us can afford to spend those incredibly crazy 30 hours a week running big game endurance trails.
What I love to do instead is to add to my existing unconventional training routines by committing to public races. There are plenty of 5K, 10K, half marathon and other distance running events you can sign up for that only cost a fraction of the entry fee for an obstacle course race. These races I treat as endurance workouts. Yep, one person’s race can be your workout if you want it to be.
At least in UK for about 4-5 months of the considerably warm weather the race calendar is filled up so there’s a race on every weekend. If you’re feeling uninspired or lazy to run those miles, signing up for a ‘normal’ race is the best way to get things going again. Running just one longer normal race can not only add mileage but you can also afford to take time to concentrate on your form, keep it easy and run just right.
Stay passively active
Most jobs today leave us bound to our chairs, regardless if you’re an office clerk or have the seemingly more exciting job of a pilot. We’re not going to dive into the benefits of standing desks, balance exercises, stretches or other things we’re advised to do multiple times a day to counteract the sitting. However, one of the most obvious ways to cash in more miles passively is to just use your legs as often as possible.
Let’s assume you live in a bigger city or a smaller village. In both scenarios you are most likely using public transport, car rides here and there – all those random shortcuts preventing you from staying active and moving. In fact even if you would jump out of a bus once in a while half-way through your journey you could be adding all those miles up via your more active lifestyle.
So the next time you want to jump into a car to drive for a distance you could walk in 15mins, simply put on a podcast and walk it. This is an incredibly easy way to stay active without just flitting between hours of sitting at work and then hours of running as soon as you’re out the door. Contrary, that is not going to add up to your performance and as mentioned before you might plateau fairly soon.
Moreover this is also a go-to activity we prescribe to people who want guidance in losing weight the easy route. Nothing is easier than burning extra fat by being passively active. Staying light will also add up to your running performance and indirectly add mileage.
What are some of other ways you tend to collect your miles? Leave the comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we read every response.