There are a few aspects you need to consider when gearing up for your body to stay in ‘running mode’ for longer and longer periods of time.

The first is time on feet (ToF). Your feet take a battering when you’re walking about during your daily routine let alone when running. Think of a time – like Christmas, for example, when you’ve gone out shopping and literally spent all day on your feet walking up and down from shop to shop. Those feet got tired didn’t they? They felt sore and maybe even stayed sore for a day or so after? That’s because they’re not used to all that walking.

When I first started working at McDonalds I was in agony. Standing on my feet from 4pm until 3am for a mere 2 nights in a row; absolute agony. I kept leaning on one foot and holding onto the counter. Nicky, my manager said “Feet hurt? You’ll get used to it – it’ll take about 2 weeks!” and she was right. Agony, for two weeks, then one day – just fine. My feet just got used to the additional pressure and time pushing them down and just – adapted. Like that. Then I was able to do 4 shifts in a row – 12, 14, 18 hour shifts with no pain. Ok, I’m not saying I could dance down the street at the end of the weekend – I was glad to sit down after my shifts and get my shoes off my aching tootsies; but it was nothing in comparison to those first weeks at Mcds!

Now – why am I boring you with my McDonalds experiences (and this was WAAAAY before I became a manager and was privy to ALL the sex-in-the-store-cupboard-rumours gossip)? Well – I realise now I was accidentally upping my ToF.


How does this apply to running?

Well quite simply to get your feet used to running for longer and longer you have to run for longer and longer. A good guide is to up the ToF by about 10% each week, this will help to gradually get you used to longer and longer runs. This could mean that a weekend long run starts at 2 hours, then you increase it by 10% the following week; 2 hours 12 mins, then the following week, 2 hours 25 and so on until after 12 weeks you’re up to almost 6 hours! The steady increase gives your body ample time to adjust and allows for adequate recovery in-between.

This doesn’t HAVE to be ONLY running – as long as you are on your feet – it doesn’t actually matter. So, if it’s week 7 and your aim is 3 ½ hours ToF and after 2 ½ hours your body just isn’t having it IT’S OK! Just keep going, on your feet until the time is up!

How can I fit this into my week?

There are two ways you can work this, the first one is as above – carry on your usual activities in the week (which might be a recovery run, tempo/interval run, cross training) with one long run each week (weekend) and increase by 10% each week. A lot of running plans suggest this type of programming. However, we all know that life can sometimes get in the way of our amazing running plans! And it’s very easy to miss 2 long runs in a row and feel COMPLETELY behind and like you’re never going to achieve your goals. We’ve all been there; the best plans and life literally stomps all over it!

What’s the alternative?

The second option is that you can up your TOTAL ToF over the week – this has pros and cons (just like with ANY training programme/goal)

Pros; you can spread out your ToF over a few days or over the week making it easier to fit around life’s commitments.

Con – you must make sure your ToF is ON TOP OF your usual activities.

So…. if a typical Monday is 2km recovery run, 30 minutes dog walk – this doesn’t go into your ToF total you HAVE to do it on top. So, you can still use the 10% increase per week guide but calculate your usual activities FIRST. Taking the 2-hour starting point. Let’s assume your usual activities add up to 30-60 mins per day for 4 days, and we want the 2 hours on top. So, you’ll be adding 30 mins to each day’s activity.

This might look like:

  • Monday 30 mins recovery, 30 mins ToF,
  • Weds 1-hour interval, 30 mins ToF,
  • Thursday 1-hour moderate run, 30 mins ToF,
  • Sunday 1-hour cross training, 30 mins ToF.
  • Total usual activities 3.5-4 hours, total ToF 2 hours.

Time on Feet can be any pace you like (even walking) but the trick is you need to INCREASE it to see the benefits. If the time stays the same each week, your ability to stay on your feet for any length of time will also stay the same!

You might want to adopt a combination – try doing your additional ToF on a Sunday (long run) then planning ahead to see if anything might get in the way – and if there is spread it out that week. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It might mean your Thursday run becomes 1.5 hours instead of just 1, or maybe you jog to that Pilates class and walk back…. Have fun with it!



A word on shoes…

Make sure you have the right shoes for your feet. They don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to fit you and not hurt you.

Each pair of trainers has a limited mileage, so your old trusty trainers might feel like part of your body, increasing your ToF might be the last straw for those bad boys! Running is a cheap sport in comparison to other sports but if you only have one pair of trainers, and you’re aiming for an endurance run, then you’ll need to think about investing in a second pair. We recommend having 1 road pair and 1 trail pair (at least) if you live in trainers (like I do) you might even want a third! If you have a brand or model you prefer, get two of the same! Manufacturers won’t keep making them forever – better to have one pair in the cupboard on standby than blistered feet for the next two years while you find your next fave!

You might hear people talking about heel drop and pronation and arch height, but we’ll come to that on another day (as there’s way too much to talk about!) so don’t worry. The most important thing is to be comfortable!

Ladies - don't be afraid to shop in the mens trainer's section, in my opinion they have a better choice of colours (not just pink and white!) they usually are a little wider which suits me as I have wide feet and often they are cheaper!


Wear ones that fit you! Not too much fabric, not too thick, not too thin! I prefer ‘natural’ materials (I now only ever wear merino socks as they’re so comfy and keep the coldness of the wet out) but I hear good things about bamboo. Of course, cotton is breathable, but as always you are the expert – go with what feels good, and comfortable.

If you wear waterproof (like Gore-Tex) shoes, then you might want to wear a double layer sock as it takes any moisture away from your feet, I’m talking sweat here not rain! As you don’t want your waterproof shoes trapping your feet in a sweaty prison!

Happy to do another more detailed post on shoes, socks, feet and maintenance another day if you’re interested!

So, a couple of things for you to think about there!