12 tips from Paul for temporary higher mileage

Dear fellow Harrier,

For the next 2 weeks we have the ‘Covid Cup Challenge’ – where the winners are the club with the highest total mileage.

On the one hand this is a great stimulus to train and get the miles in, but on the other hand sudden spikes in running volume are one of the best ways to injure yourself. So… how to go about this in the safest possible way?

Thankfully, the things you can do to reduce your risk of damage from a sudden spike in running volume will also help you get the most out of any temporary extra miles you do.

I’ve split my tips into two parts. The first concerns recovery, and the second concerns training itself.

A run up Grisdale Pike in the Lake District. Extra miles at the same time as extra hills = Achilles tendon and calf problems.

Recovery tips

As you increase your miles, proportionately increase the amount of time and care you take on recovery. Recovery is where the body gets stronger. Training itself causes damage and weakens things. This is very important to remember in all the training you do. If you increase your mileage without taking care about your recovery, you could cause more harm than good. In no particular order of importance, here are some of the best ways you can take care of your recovery.

  1. Sufficient energy and protein. The fuel and the building blocks of your muscles are essential. Get some fuel in straight after a run.
  2. Gentle stretching sessions. I often suggest that for each training session someone does, they could aim for a gentle recovery type stretch session. Enjoy letting your muscles recover well to get more positives out of your training sessions. I often use the floor for these passive/relaxed type stretch sessions.
  3. More rest! Sleep and lying down are great for repair when your body is tired!
  4. Baths... this starts to sound like a very pleasant list!
  5. Ice -  straight after a run to any niggling areas (and be honest about whether your body is telling you to stop, rest or seek help for the problem). I suggest you do 15 minutes with a bag of frozen peas.
  6. Naturally antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements. This is a great base one. I also use their fish oil.
  7. Avoid long periods of sitting that are not broken up with movement. Long periods of sitting are the worst thing to help support your recovery or prepare you for your next run.

Training tips

Running volume alone does not equate to the overall quality of your training. Keeping extra miles in the correct perspective is incredibly important for your long-term success and the reaching of pace-specific goals such as a 10k pb. Miles are not everything. There are so many apsects to training which build a balanced athlete. And although it can be good to build mileage it's also important not to get caught up on that in the long run. So, with that in mind here are some tips for this period if you are adding miles...

  1. It’s not just your running that adds to the physical stress on your body – everything counts from cycling, yoga, pilates, weights, and anything you do with work etc. So, if you are temporarily increasing one element of your training such as distance, you can temporarily reduce some other loads to give your body less chance of becoming over-trained, tired and injured.
  2. If pace is equal, your body will be more fatigued from one 20km run than two 10km runs. Consider adding runs in rather than lengthening your runs, especially your already long ones!
  3. Give yourself a good one or two rest days per week to focus on active recovery and no other form of training.
  4. If you are temporarily significantly increasing your mileage keep your run paces below the lactate threshold – the pace at which blood lactate is no longer stable and rises during the exercise. Running faster than the threshold causes much more stress on the body than staying below it. You are either doing more distance or more quality... increasing both at the same time is really not a great idea...
  5. Keep your foot placement quiet and do not over-stride. These are two things you can do to greatly reduce impact and push-off force in your stride. For example, when I do a session my stride cadence will typically by around 88-90 strides/min.

I hope you find these ideas thought-provoking and useful.

Stay safe, and best wishes!

Paul

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