“I wish I could run a 10k! I can do 2 miles but can’t seem to get past the 2 mile mark. I’m not sure if I psych myself out. Any advice?”

How do you push past your mental mileage barrier, especially if you’re a newer runner? I started thinking about the topic when my cousin Dana the above question on my Facebook wall. Well, Dana, here’s what I would say.

Are You Ready for it?

Before you go pushing any mental boundaries, you have to make sure you’re physically ready for more mileage. This means no aches and pains. If you’re saying “My knee has been hurting a little after my runs,” then by no means is this the time to run more. I know it seems like common sense, but we’re runners and we don’t always think like rational people. ( We wake up early on weekends; we run in the cold and rain - are those the actions of rational people??!!) 

If you don’t have any aches and pains, then proceed with prudence. Remember the 10-percent rule: increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10-percent. 
Once your body is ready for the mileage, let’s talk about getting your mind in the game. I have my own methods, but since my cousin is a newer runner, I also wanted to ask other newer runners what tips and tricks they use to run longer. For that perspective, I turned to Brian and Mark, a couple of my co-workers. Both of them just finished the ING Georgia Half Marathon. Neither probably would have considered themselves runners a year-and-a-half ago, but here they are today, half marathoners. (Congrats again guys!)

Distraction, Distraction, Distraction

Music and movies top the list of how to run farther without feeling like you’re running farther. When I ran at 5 a.m. on the student center treadmill in college, I’d be listening to my CD player while watching local morning news – anything to keep from looking at a clock. My co-worker, and fellow runner, Brian, tells me he’s watched “Bourne Ultimatum” about a hundred times while running on his home treadmill. (I thought that was a great movie choice. Think about it: whatever situation Jason Bourne is in, it’s likely much more painful than your extra five minutes on the treadmill).

Mix it Up

Mark, the other newer runner I quizzed about his methods, says interval training helped him push past his same old routine. He says he “kicked up the speed for a certain amount of time, and then walked.” He says eventually his pace increased, even on easy days, and then he was able to run farther.

Brian also uses a run/walk method to help him run farther. “I run for 10 minutes and walk for one. It really helps me catch my breath. There’s no shame in walking, especially when I pass the other runners halfway through a race.”

Reward Yourself

Brian calls it his “carrot and stick” method. “If I want something, I’ll make myself wait until after I’ve done my mileage,” he says. Start by setting a daily or weekly goal. If you reach it, give yourself more than a pat on a back. I tend to think of my run as my reward, but I did make myself wait until I finished this post to download the latest LOST Podcast on iTunes. 

What tricks do you use to run longer? We’d love to hear about them right here on 10k-running.com.
4/20/2010 16:55:22

I have one! Plan a route that is as long as you want to run. Make it a loop instead of an out-and-back, or have someone drop you off as far from home as you want to run. Then you'll have no choice but to run farther.


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