Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
New here? Check out Week 1: Intro to 12 week running program and sample schedules
And we’re back! Welcome to Week 2! Today’s topics: running longer (& faster)
How was the past week? Did we get a few runs under our belt? I had a nice, long run on Saturday morning around the park a few blocks from my house. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite places to run. I actually enjoy getting up on a weekend for it!
What is it about being outside that makes running so much more enjoyable? Maybe it’s all the cute men that run in the park on Saturday morning as well? Hey, whatever gets you up and moving.
One of the biggest challenges that new (and old I suppose) runners face is how to increase mileage. Besides physical ability, it can be hard mentally to go beyond a certain point of comfort.
I understand this completely. My weekday runs usually consist of 5-6 miles max. MAX. Usually I start getting antsy halfway through and once my to-do list in my head reaches level-5 anxiety, I hit the stop button on the treadmill faster than you can say cool-down.
But the weekends? Ah, the weekends. That’s when I can really let loose and focus on my goals. What works for you? Finding time might be your biggest obstacle. If you are trying to ramp up distance, set aside one day a week to push it by 10%. That’s a good starting number to prevent injury. Of course, if you typically run >20 miles a week, you can bump it up even more.
Remember, this running series is for EVERYONE so even if your trying to increase to running 2 miles, you can still follow these guidelines.
1. Warm up! The warm-up typically gets the short end of the stick. When your finally ready to exercise, your ready, no one wants to take another 5 minutes to gradually ease into it. But you should. You really, really should as it’s one of your best defenses against cramps, tightness, and straining something.
2. Make it enjoyable: We will discuss Outside vs. Treadmill more on week 6 but ask yourself- what’s more enjoyable? To me, nothing beats the outdoors. I usually find a scenic route or park and go from there. If I run indoors, I usually like to time it to Real Housewives, Food Network, or E! Total guilty pleasures but it makes my workouts a lot more fun. Plus, we don’t have cable so getting to watch those shows feels like a treat. Nothing puts things more into perspective like watching grown women cat-fight. Suddenly, my life is better.
3. If your just starting out, consider a run/walk combo. Increasing distance is all about increasing endurance. If your goal is to run 5 miles without stopping, run as much as you can and walk the rest. Your body will get used to the extra mileage and you can continue to increase the distance you run from there.
4. What stops you now!? My biggest reason for stopping is time and sometimes boredom/fatigue. I try to plan as much as I can to avoid them, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy or availability to head out. Since I am wonderfully Type-A and therefore obsessed with planning, I make a point each week to schedule in ‘me-time’. Whether it’s to go to yoga, run, or just lay on the couch with no one bothering me, it helps me better schedule my other time.
5. Slow down. Run at a conversational pace, this will help you breathe more efficiently and be able to run longer. Sometimes we have to stop because we are running too fast and become winded. See if slowing down your pace can help you increase your distance, thus providing a better workout overall.
If you’re trying to increase your race or mile time, slow and steady isn’t the way to go. My preferred way of increase speed is by adding interval training once a week and incorporating more tempo runs.
The Tempo Run: 4 tempo run workouts
Intervals: Or whatever you want to call them. Basically, your going to bust your butt for 30 seconds, recover and repeat. Yes, you will probably never enter a true sprint on race day, but pushing yourself to your max speed is a great way to increase your pace. I do this once a week on a treadmill or outside. Remember high school track days? It’s a bit like that. Go hard, recover, Go hard, recover. I’m not going to tell you the times and how much to repeat, that’s up to you and your ability. Maybe try adding some speed work to the end of your workout for a fun final push.
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