More answers to your running questions. If you missed it Running 101 can be found here.
How often should I run?
If you want to improve you need to run at least three days a week, four days a week is better, five days a week is great, six days a week is pushing it a bit and seven days a week is too much. You have to have some rest days in order to get the most out of your running.
Should I do the same run each day?
It’s better if you don’t. You will make more progress if you pick one run a week and make it slower and longer, known by runners as LSD (Long Slow Distance). Once you have some experience as a runner it’s also good to pick one run a week and do a shorter faster run.
How far should I run?
Obviously there is no simple answer to this question. It depends on how far you are running now and what your goals are. There are some basic rules you should follow: don’t increase your total mileage by more than 10% a week and don’t increase your longest run each week by more than 10% a week
What about walk breaks?
Although walk breaks have been popularized by former US Olympian Jeff Galloway and in Canada by The Running Room, the modern founder of the walk break was Tom Osler a math professor who ran 114 miles around a track in 24 hours in 1976 by running seven laps and then walking one.
Even if your goals are a little less extreme walk breaks can play a useful role in your training plan. Run: Walk schedules with gradual increases in run time between walk breaks are a great way for beginners to get started on a run program and even experienced runners can benefit from walk breaks on LSD runs. You can use a walk break strategy for racing as well. Many marathon runners use run 10:walk 1. If you want to use a run:walk strategy for racing an alternate approach would be to walk through the water stops. This approach gives you regular walk breaks and it helps with hydration because it’s much easier to drink if you are not trying to run at the same time.
What about aches, pains and injuries?
Being a bit sore the day after a tough run is no big deal (actually after a really hard run you will probably feel it more two days afterwards) but acute or consistent pain is a sign of injury. There are no simple answers but here are a few suggestions:
DON’T just ignore it.
If it does not get better in a couple of days or if it really hurts go and see a professional.(running coaches and Facebook friends don’t count).
DON’T run, taking a couple of days off now could save you from having to take a lot of days off later.
What about cross training?
Cross training is a great way to increase your fitness and even improve your running. Running is a high impact sport. Including other lower impact sports such as cycling, cross county skiing and swimming into your weekly schedule will help you to get the fitness benefit without over taxing the muscles you use to run. This will help to maintain muscle balance and reduce the chances of injury.
BONUS QUESTION: Why is a marathon 26.2 miles (42.2 km) ?
The first marathon commemorated the run of the solider Pheidippides from marathon to Athens in 490 BC. Legend has it that he delivered the message “Niki” (Victory) and then dropped dead.
The first modern marathon was held in Athens at the 1896 Olympics and it was 40 km/ 25 miles. Marathons over the next few Olympics were actually not all the same distance. They were between 25 and 26 miles.
You can blame Queen Alexandra for the extra 0.2 miles we run today. In 1908 for the London Olympics a 26 mile course was made 0.2 miles longer so it would pass by the royal viewing box. For reasons unexplained that distance stuck!