Calum Neff: Mileage Motivation

“Practice makes perfect”, it couldn’t be any truer than in running. To become a better runner, you have to run, a lot. Gold Coach Calum Neff is no stranger to mileage and has some tips for staying motivated when your schedule says to “go long”. Why run mileage?

A majority of any training program will consist of “base running” with a few workouts trickled in-between adequate recovery. The reason for running mileage is not only so you can handle the hard workouts without injury but your aerobic energy system takes years of consistent work to improve.

When I look at my athletes profiles I almost always see they are not able to run an equivalent marathon time based on their performances in shorter distances like the 5k. For example, if you can run a 5k in 20 minutes, you should be able to run 3:15 in the marathon, but this is rarely the case for a new runner. This is because the athletes various energy systems are not equally developed, and that’s why we are here as your coaches!

Benefits of Mileage

  • Building aerobic base (endurance)
  • Becoming more efficient
  • Burning fat: Your body uses higher percentage of fat for energy during long slow workouts, rather than carbohydrates/sugars, this type of running is great for weight loss
  • Mentally prepares you for fatigue experienced during workouts and races
  • Injury/soreness resilience

How to stay motivated?

Hopefully you were not discouraged to learn that it can take years to build your aerobic capacity. Most programs, depending on the athlete, will have an initial month or two to build up your base, preparing you for the race season. Seeing long runs on your calendar, week after week, can be challenging mentally. Here are a few tips that work for me:

The Route

  • Pre-plan your route using online maps, picking out water and bathrooms as needed.
  • Pick a destination: Personally, I am very “objective based”, give me a target and I will do everything I can to get there. Choose a new park, a bridge, monument, a mountain, anything!
  • One-way routes: Getting dropped off away from home is huge motivation to get your run done, you have no choice. Have your running gear handy on family outings, on return you can get dropped off and fit your run in to a busy schedule.
  • Loop routes: Committing to a large loop is another great way to force yourself to complete your run.
  • Out-and-return: If you have a 20km run all you have to do is get 10km away from your house!
  • Run commute: Doubling your run as a method of transportation saves a lot of time (hopefully you have a shower at the office).


The Motivation

  • If your body is feeling tired and sore a long slow run will usually help, give yourself a few easy miles to loosen up.
  • “I regret that run” – said no one, ever.
  • Doubling: If a single run during the day is too much to try and reach your mileage goals, start adding in an easy couple miles every other morning as a double run for the day.
  • Give your coach a call! That is why we are here. If you are a Gold Program member you have a great resource at your fingertips. As coaches we always have ways to motivate or adapt a workout to suit your needs.

“I regret that run.” – no one, ever.

The Goal

As we head into summer, these next few months is where you lay the foundation for your running in the Fall, from cross country athletes to marathoners. This is the time where you can cut out a lot of intensity and just run long and slow. With summer comes the heat and humidity depending on your climate. Be prepared to run early or inside and if you are out in the heat remember to hydrate and adjust your pace and distance accordingly. Heat running and high humidity (also called “poor man’s altitude”), while tough, can be especially beneficial to your base building so try and embrace it. Your efforts will be rewarded in the Fall, sign up for a Gold Coach today and let us help you achieve your goals.


Neff_KatyHalf16_WR_BillBaumeyerThis blog post was written by Calum Neff, canadian born running.COACH gold coach in the U.S., 2:22h marathoner and Guinness world record holder for the fastest half marathon pushing a stroller in 1:11:27. Are you interested in a personal running coach? Click here.

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