1. Warm-up well
While running might not seem that intense or demanding, preparing your body before each session with a good warm-up is vital. It ensures better performance, good mobility, and a lower risk of aches (2, 3).
Warming up activates your muscles, prepares your joints and connective tissues, puts you in the mood for a good workout, and helps you block out distractions. Plus, warming up can serve as a pre-workout ritual––a sequence of events that makes it easier to start each session and stay consistent.
Here’s how to execute a productive warm-up:
Start with walking and gradually pick up the pace until you’re just about to start jogging.
Stop and do some dynamic stretching in the form of arm and leg swings, torso rotations, and deep squat holds.
Resume walking and gradually pick up the pace until you’re jogging. Go for a few extra minutes before finally transitioning to your average running speed.
2. Give yourself time to recover
Running as often and as long as possible sounds exciting, especially for people new to the activity. After all, why not turn it into a daily ritual?
The problem is that running is physically demanding, and your body needs time off to recuperate. Otherwise, stress builds up, causing your performance to decline (4, 5).
A good rule of thumb is to run every other day. Having 48 hours of recovery between sessions is enough for most people.
3. Pace yourself
Pacing yourself is one of the most important things you must do to run longer and keep injuries at bay. The idea is to train within your limits and gradually cover longer distances while keeping the rating of perceived exertion somewhat consistent.
You can push yourself to your limits and see good results, but only for a while. The stress will catch up to you at some point, leading to burnout or overtraining (5).
If you’re unsure how to do that, your best approach might be to follow a structured running program that outlines all the details––when and how long to run, when to recover, and when to push for progress before taking an extended break.
Check out our app Supersonic, which offers a 0 to 5k progression plan. It spans nine weeks and is designed to boost your endurance for running success. We’ll be adding more plans in the upcoming months.
4. Mix running and walking
Going for a long run can be intimidating, especially for a beginner who doesn’t know what to expect. It gets even more difficult when you’re halfway through your workout and already feel exhausted: breathing heavily, your muscles burning, the whole shebang.
Over time, these feelings can sap your motivation to run and cause you to give up. Fortunately, the solution is simple:
Blend walking into your running workouts. That way, instead of seeing your workouts as these huge, barely surmountable challenges, you introduce ‘breaks’ at regular intervals, making each session far less intimidating.
5. Monitor Your Heart Rate
Monitoring your heart rate allows you to keep track of your effort, see if you’re making progress, and ultimately run longer. For example, if your average heart rate goes down while you cover the same distances for the same time, it likely means you’ve experienced aerobic adaptations.
Keeping an eye on your heart rate can also reduce the risk of overtraining because it makes it easier to adjust your speed to stay within a specific heart rate zone.
The most effective way to measure your heart rate is with a monitor, preferably one you strap on your chest. These appear to be more accurate than the ones designed for the wrist (6). You can export the data and review your performance on your computer.