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I would like to start running long distance (well ~8km) Is it better to start off walking, with occasional jogging, the 8km and transition over time into running the full distance, or to start off running shorter distances (eg. 1km) and increase the distance over time?

I have just started going for runs and walks again, after breaking my ankle ~9 months ago(tripped when running). So far, I have been going back and forth between these two options 3-4 times a week for the past two weeks. Is one option better than the other, or is an all together different option best?

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For running, you will see the best results from a consistent program, and shorter + more often is usually better than longer and less often.

To start, I would look at many of the couch to 5k programs, and use that until you can comfortably run a 5k. Once you get to that point, you can start a regular running program to get you to where you need to be for your fitness and/or competitive goals.

The program that I usually recommend is a 3:2:1 program. It's designed for running 6 times per week, with 3 short, 2 medium and one long run. So if you do your 5k, and it takes you 30 minutes, that establishes your long run. Your medium runs would be 20 minutes, and your short runs 10 minutes. (Med = 2x short, long = 3x short). Do that for a few weeks, then you can start increasing distances by increasing your times. So your short run would become 12 minutes, your medium becomes 24, and your long becomes 36 minutes.

I wouldn't recommend strict speedwork until you have 6 months or more of consistent mileage under your belt, but you can work pickups, fartleks or strides into some of your med/long runs.

You can keep increasing distance, or once you get to the point where you are happy with what you are seeing, you can just maintain. Pay attention to your body, if you start feeling fatigued and/or beat up, you can ease back or take a couple days off.

Also, if you are going to be running consistently and competing, I would recommend having 2-3 pairs of shoes, rotating among them consistently, and retiring them after 200-600 miles (It will depend on your weight, running style, gait, shoe construction, etc. If a run leaves you feeling beat up when it shouldn't, your shoes may be ready to be retired).

Running isn't mysterious. The biggest mistakes people make are doing speedwork too soon, ramping up distance too soon, and most people don't run easy enough on their easy days, and not hard enough on their hard days.

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    +1 for "Running isn't mysterious". One may even go so far as to say that it's not essential that you worry yourself with a formal program. You will progress as long as you are running/jogging consistently, regardless of the specific routine. – cheaterpushups Sep 9 '15 at 1:47
  • @cheaterpushups - Agreed, but many beginners benefit from some guidance until they get used to what running feels like. But yes, just getting out and doing it is the main thing. – JohnP Sep 9 '15 at 4:20
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I think you should ask yourself exactly what you're looking to accomplish. If you want to run a 10K in under half an hour, that's a whole different ball of wax than wanting to run a competitive time for your age, which is different than just finishing it without walking. They're all "running a 10K", but the training is a lot different.

There's no right or wrong answer, but be honest about your goals as otherwise your training could have way too much or way too little stress.

For competitive running in those distances, you'll want to work on a few things at once. I'm used to something a bit like this (for a 10k):

  • Tuesday: short, 30 minute. faster than comfortable, but not race pace.
  • Thursday: short, 30 minute. hold race pace for a bit, drop down, back to race pace. maybe hill intervals.
  • Saturday: long, 1 hour, comfortable pace.

I'm not a high level runner, and this training was in use maybe 15 years ago so perhaps things have gotten different. But in my experience I was trying to build endurance and speed at the same time just spread across different workouts.

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Start by running shorter distances and work your way up. Push yourself to run the whole distance even if you are jogging at a super slow pace (obviously don't push yourself if you begin to feel pain).

If you want a little more structure, you can google for "8k training plan" or "half marathon training plan" ect. depending on the race. What's nice about training plans is that they are designed so that you "peak" at race day, and often they recommend cross-training days.

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