How to Run a Personal Distance Record

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Whether you’ve been running for a while or have just started ramping up your mileage, you might be itching to increase the distance. Maybe the idea of a double-digit run is appealing, or you’d like to complete a 5K, 10K, half marathon or more. Whatever your goal—if you’re shooting to run farther than ever before, these tips are for you.

Determine Your Goal and Make a Plan of Attack

As you gear up to run a personal distance record, known as a PDR, narrow in on the distance you want to reach. Is it simply the farthest you’ve ever run? Or is it a specific number (e.g. 10 miles, 50K)? Once you know the goal, you can plan out how you’ll get there. The farther you intend to run, the more training you’ll need, so be realistic in your goal setting. For example, if the aim is to run 20 miles, but the most you’ve ever run is 10 miles, you’ll probably need a few months to prepare.

Increase Duration or Frequency

To grow your mileage and ready your legs for longer runs, you’ll want to focus on duration and frequency. But finding a balance can be tricky. In general it’s best to start small. For example, to start you can increase your usual run by 1 to 2 minutes and your weekly long run by 5 minutes. Gradually add a few more minutes each week to give your body time to adjust. Adding frequency is less important in building up to a PDR, but it will give you a stronger aerobic base and more endurance—important factors when it comes to getting in running shape.

Pay Attention to the Build up

As you increase your duration (whether that’s by miles or minutes), you’ll likely need down weeks. Increasing distance is not always a linear process—sometimes it means you’ll need to spend time at a plateau for a few weeks (e.g. run an 8 mile long run for a few weeks before you progress to 9 miles), and sometimes it means you’ll need to run only short, easy miles for a while. Give special attention to your sleep habits, nutrition and stress levels as they all play a big role in staying injury free.

Set Yourself up for Success

When you’ve gotten close to your PDR, it’s time to give it a go. For example, let’s say you’re trying to run 10 miles for the first time. Think of ways that will make it easier—can you sign up for a 15K (9.3 mile) race and plan on adding a short warm-up before the start? A finish line and spectators can be a powerful motivator. If a race isn’t an option, consider running at a time and on a route that will give you a boost. If you need time to wake up in the morning and drink coffee, a 5 a.m. start might not be in your best interest. Similarly, choose a route that isn’t overly challenging. You’ll be running farther than ever before; the extra elevation can wait. And finally, call in reinforcements if possible. Can a friend meet you for the second half of the run? Will a family member bike alongside you?

Just like running a fast time is an important milestone, running a PDR is also something to celebrate. And with planning and patience, it’s achievable.

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