If you're running for 30 minutes, here's how to build up to an hour.
(Not ready yet? Check out our Start Walking, Start Running, or Run Nonstopplans. Or if you're looking to add speed, go to our Run Faster plan.)
Here are some things to keep in mind as you start to run longer.
Take it easy. As you’re training your body to go longer, it’s important to run relaxed. Don’t worry about your pace; you should be running at a pace that feels comfortable, conversational – like you could maintain it forever if you had to. Just focus on covering the distance for the day feeling strong, exhilarated, with enough energy and desire that you’re psyched about getting out for your next workout. Lots of people make the mistake of going out too fast; that’s a surefire recipe for injury and burnout. And what’s more, if you finish your workout feeling demolished and demoralized, it’s going to be that much more difficult to get out for your next run.
Fill up your tank. Before heading out on any run that nears an hour, make sure you’re hydrated and well fueled. Stay well hydrated throughout the day. Aim to consume at least half the amount of fluids of your body weight, in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d try to consume 75 ounces of water per day. If you weigh 200 pounds, you’d aim for 100 ounces. Stick with water or other calorie-free drinks; you don’t need sports drinks unless you’re going for longer. Try to eat 30 to 60 minutes before you go out. Stick with a snack or meal that’s low in fat and fiber, and will provide you with carbs you need for fast energy. Have a piece of fruit and pair it with cottage cheese. Other options: fig cookies; half a bagel with nut butter and jam; or a cereal with less than two grams of fiber per serving with one cup of skim milk.
Avoid eating back the calories. Many people are surprised to find that when they start exercising, the pounds don’t just magically and immediately melt off. And that can be frustrating. Indeed, whether you’re ravenous when you return from your run, or you just feel entitled to treats, it’s easy to go overboard. It’s easy to eat back your calories after pushing your body and your mind farther than you’ve taken them before. To avoid that, track your calorie intake with one of the many web sites or apps; it will force you to pause and think before you taste, and exercise portion control. Also, schedule a nonfood rewards when you reach certain milestones; some new running duds, a new book or some new music, a day at the spa or a night out with friends.
Get into good habits. Create a prerun routine to cue your body and mind that it’s time to run, and repeat it every time you go. Always go at the same time of day. Put your workout clothes next to your bed. Put on your same workout music before you go out. “In order to make something like running into a habit, you have to have cues to trigger you, and they have to be consistent,” says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit. “You’re creating neural pathways that make the activity into a habit,” he adds.
Stay on the wagon. No matter how good your intentions are, inevitably, you’re going to get busy, get the flu, or get caught up in something that gets in the way of your running routine. And it may feel tough to start over. Don’t get stuck. Just get going.
Press the reset button, says running coach Jeff Gaudette, founder of Runnersconnect, an online training service. “Let go of the past, and focus on what you can control today,” he says. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I run today?’” Your fitness will return. “People are always so surprised at how quickly they can get back on track,” says Susan Paul, of Track Shack of Orlando. “Even if they took two weeks off they haven’t lost as much fitness as they think.”
Stay on high alert. Watch out for any aches or pains that persist or worsen as you run or prompt you to change your gait. Each person has his or her own unique orthopedic threshold for how many miles they can log and how fast they can go before getting injured. That’s determined by a person’s unique genetics, anatomy, biomechanics, history of injury.
Stick with the plan. At this stage, it may start to take more discipline to hold back than to push harder. If you push beyond what the Run Longer plan calls for, you risk getting hurt or tiring out before your time for the day is finished. “People get too excited and push it without thinking about accumulation of fatigue,” says Gaudette.
Our Run Longer plan will help you gradually build the endurance to run six miles without walk breaks. The plan includes some hills and loosely-structured speedwork (fartlek) to build your strength. Before you begin, you should have spent at least six weeks running for at least 150 minutes per week (roughly 30 minutes, 5 days per week).
Start by running one to two miles on your weekly runs, with one long run on the weekend that is three miles. You’ll gradually add distance so that by the end of the plan you’ll be able to cover six miles without stopping, and without getting hurt. Here’s the first week from our Run Longer plan. Get your Run Longer plan here.
Here's more about the plan:
Length of plan: 7 weeks
Number of workouts a week: 4 days, with an optional fifth day
First workout: 1-mile run
Goal workout: Run 6 to 7 miles continuously.
Room to maneuver: Want more of a challenge? Skip ahead when you’re ready. If the plan is moving too fast for you, spend two weeks or more at each stage.