25 May 2019

Running further

Do you actually want to go further?

Now, as I have already said, you don’t ever need to run further than 5K if you don’t want to. 5K is a really convenient distance to fit into everyday life, gives you bags of opportunities to race and compete if that’s your thing, and you can train hard or run and chat, do parkruns all over the world or just run back from school drop off a couple of times a week. Yes, 5K is great, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough.

When you get into a rhythm and everything is working well – your legs, your breathing, your whole body moving naturally – you don’t want it to end after just 5K. It’s not that 5K is too easy, but that it’s just too good and you want more! That’s a really valid and compelling reason to increase your distance. Embrace it!

So, when’s the marathon?

I’d urge caution against listening too much to external influences. You know the ones. Those “friends” who’ve never run themselves, but who ask you when you’re doing the London Marathon. Remember that running isn’t like swimming certificates or instrument grades. You never have to move up to the next distance if you don’t want to.

But let’s assume you want to increase your distance. How do you do it?

Hang on a minute!

Before you start, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Am I free from injury? – if you have any niggles don’t increase your distance. If resting doesn’t fix it consult a physiotherapist who specialises in running-related injuries. Make sure you’ve been injury free for a few weeks before you up your training.

  2. Are my trainers in good shape? – trainers usually last 300-500 miles (500-800km). That’s a maximum of a year if you’re running 5km three times a week, so if you got brand new shoes when you started Couch to 5K and you’re still in your first year of running you’re probably fine. If you’re not sure, have a good look at them. Are they worn or torn? How about the sole, can you still see the pattern all over it or is it worn flat in places? How do the feel? Bouncy or as flat as school daps? If you want to replace them take your old trainers with you to the shop. They can tell useful things from looking at your old trainers which will help them find the right one to replace them.

If you and your shoes are ready we’re good to go.

It’s not rocket science

If you’ve done a Couch to 5K programme you’ll already be familiar with the two main things that can help you go from 5K to 10K. The first is gradually increasing the duration of your runs. The second is intervals – alternating harder efforts and easier recoveries.

When you’re increasing your distance you should add no more than 10% per week. That means that if you’re running 5km three times a week (15km total) you can increase that by 1.5km in the first week, 1.65km in week 2, and so on. Add it onto one of your runs and keep the other two shorter.

In your shorter runs you can do some intervals, for example:

  • Timed intervals – warm up with 5-10 minutes at a gentle pace then alternate 1 or 2 minutes faster and the same as a recovery (slower running or walking). Repeat for about 20 minutes – i.e. 10 times if you’re running for 1 minute – and finish with a five minute cool down jog. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch!

  • Hill repeats are brilliant for getting fitter. Find a hill that’s not too steep. Run up it for 45 seconds (you only need to time the first rep. and take a mental note of where you got to). Walk back down, turn around and run up again. Do it 6-8 times. Over a few weeks you can increase the number of reps up to 12.

  • Progressive intervals – find a route that’s approximately a kilometre long. You’re going to run around it 4 times. The first lap is a warm up lap at a gentle, chatty pace – about 50% of your maximum effort – you should be able to talk without a problem. On each lap increase your effort by about 10%, so on lap 2 you can still say 3-4 words, on lap 3 you’re pushing yourself at the effort level of a 5K race, and finally lap 4 is as fast as you can go! It can be tricky to get your pacing right, but give it a try!

Race if you want to get faster

Having a race in your diary can be a great motivation. It gives you a deadline, and that pressure helps focus your mind. It also offers a reward in the form of a shiny medal!

Races are not something to be afraid of. Race results from previous years are usually on the organiser’s website so it’s a simple task to check times and reassure yourself that you’re not going to be last. If you can run even the majority of the distance there is no doubt of that! If you’re very anxious about the idea of running a race, volunteer to marshal at a local event. You’ll soon see that runners come in all shapes, sizes and speeds, and you’ll usually get free entry into a future race with that organiser as a thank you!

There are 10K races to suit everyone, from big city races with amazing crowd support to tiny rural trail runs, flat runs, hilly runs, runs with amazing medals and runs for amazing causes. Just within a small radius of Bath you can choose from the Two Tunnels 10K races in the summer (flat tarmac) or Bath Skyline 10K races in the winter (hills and mud), both from Relish Running; the Cancer Research Race for Life 10K; Kelston, Avon Valley Railway races, Warmley Forest or River Avon Trail 10Ks from Aspire Running;  Westonbirt 10K from DB Max; Frome, Corsham, Bristol… there are hundreds to try.

Train with Hannah the Runner

Obviously we’re in the business of running coaching and we would love to help you progress from 5K to 10K so we offer regular 5K to 10K courses, and Run Training intervals. Take a look at our runs and join us!

Register with RunTogether

Group running is a great way to keep fit and healthy. You’ll get plenty of motivation, support as well as making new friendships.

Find out more