When you first start a running program, completing one mile seems like a feat, but consistent training makes increasing your mileage less daunting than you might think. If you've settled into a distance that feels comfortable, you may initially experience mental and physical resistance when you begin to add miles to your training. However, once you work through your training plateau, gradually adding distance to your long runs will prove a straightforward and rewarding process.
Whether you're running for fitness, competition or a combination of both, signing up for a 10K race may help motivate you to reach your six-mile goal. At 6.2 miles, the 10K provides a new challenge to runners who have finished one or more 5K races, but also makes a realistic goal for race newbies who have at least eight weeks to invest in a training program and already have experience running two- to three-mile distances.
Even if racing isn't your thing, following a 10K training program can help you increase the distance of your long runs to six miles. If you are an established runner and can easily log two to three miles during your long run, start with a 10K program. If not, follow an eight-week 5K training program first and then progress to training for 6.2 miles, recommends JeffGalloway.com, the website of running coach, author and former Olympian Jeff Galloway.
No matter where you start mileage-wise, it's important to gradually build distance and intensity into your workouts. The American Council on Exercise recommends adding no more than 10 percent to your mileage per week. Take walking breaks if you need them, and alternate between running and walking intervals if it helps you meet your weekly mileage target. Once you cover a new distance for the first time, you can always shorten your walking intervals in subsequent runs until you're able to run the entire distance.
Schedule three to four runs per week to help program your body for regular runs and cardiovascular efficiency. However, limit long runs to once a week. Stick with two- to three-mile distances during your other running workouts. Take a day off from running the day after your long run, using that day as a rest day or focusing on strength training or flexibility. Check with your doctor before changing your fitness routine, particularly if you have a history of heart or orthopedic problems.