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Cranking up your Running Odometer!

(How to increase your running distance from 10km to 20km and farther)

If the title has grabbed your attention, then there’s a good chance you will already know that running can be:

· Versatile and convenient

· Measurable

· Social OR solo (your choice!)

· Cheap (if you want it to be!)

· Rewarding

You are therefore already on the best path towards “cranking up the odometer” to achieve greater distance in your running. So here are five time-based suggestions to help you achieve this.

1) Take Your Time

Performance gains are very rarely fixed (linear) so don’t rush things and expect to be able to consistently add the same distance on to your running every week. It’s far better to be patient and start small and finish big (exponential):

If you are like me and thrive on numbers, a different way to approach this is to look at percentage gains per week rather than fixed distance targets. For example, I could set myself a goal of doing one long run a week starting at 10km but increasing it each time by 500m OR I could set a goal of adding another 4% of last week’s distance on to this week’s run. The difference would look like this:

2) Take Time off

Not only are gains exponential but they should also be variable. This therefore means we should always include REST in our weekly journey! As you might have noticed in the above graph, I have actually surpassed my 20km target by applying a percentage gain but I’m also assuming that I can get myself out of bed every Saturday morning and do my increasing distance run each week without having a break. Instead, I will now give myself a break every 5 weeks and just head out for a cheeky 5km run or a long walk instead. My distance gains will now look like this:

3) Use Your Time Wisely

Improving your distance is not just about throwing on the shoes and running further each week. You should look at your training program as a whole and add elements to it that will enhance your performance (and reduce your chance of injury) such as strength and conditioning, HIIT training, yoga etc. You can then work with a coach or personal trainer to manage your program and make sure it is realistic and achievable. You can then factor all the training sessions into your program to ensure that it fits your goals. With variety in our training our distance gains will take on another new look:

4) Use Time as a Measure

You can be accountable and record your activity so you can see how you are progressing. If you are the competitive type, you can also use running events to gauge your progress. With this information you can then see if you are building a solid base that allows you to progress to the next level (after rewarding yourself with that much needed recovery week of course!). We can now track our actual gains against our planned gains:

5) Enjoy the Time

Of course we can all get caught up in statistics, measures and accountability (as you can see above !) but remember, at the end of the day you are doing this because you enjoy it (or like me, you focus on enjoying the feeling after doing it). There are so many ways you can make the challenge of increasing your distance enjoyable:

· Explore new places and terrain

· Enjoy the scenery

· Run with friends

· Run to a special destination

· Reward yourself when things are going right

· Rest when things don’t go right AND don’t feel guilty!

And what does the graph look like for this?

Things to Remember

Remember that gains are never linear so don’t expect to wake up every morning ready to run further!

Remember that the further the run distance the greater the chance there will be of variations in the terrain (eg. Rhodes Parkrun vs City2Surf) so manage your expectations when it comes to pacing.

Remember to make good use of the time available and be patient. Pushing the limits too often and too soon can often result in overuse injuries and lead to disappointment.

And remember to enjoy!

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