Running is a fantastic way to stay in shape and clear your mind. As with any exercise, it’s important to set small goals and continue to challenge yourself a little at a time to make progress and get the most out of your workouts.
When it comes to challenging yourself to run further distances, setting your goals will vary based on what you’re trying to do. Let me start with the most dramatic and intense end goal - running a marathon. If you’re marathon-training, you should consult a marathon training schedule that fits your lifestyle and then stick to it as best you can. Marathon training schedule creation is a science in-and-of itself, and you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel here. Lots of fine folks on the internet have already done the heavy lifting for you.
Now, if you’re talking about increasing your mileage for your own personal challenge and fun (as is more often the case), start by adding one mile to each run, without exceeding 3-4 miles in a week. This should keep you progressing while remaining injury-free. That’s the big goal people tend to forget about until they get injured and can’t workout at all for a while - then they’re really pissed off. Slow and steady wins the race - especially when the race is just against yourself!
If your goal is to lose weight through running, please remember this: before you add intensity or duration to your workouts, first make sure to find ways to activate your day as a whole. This is the key to effective, efficient, and lasting weight loss. Additional intensity or duration to your runs will make you need to eat more. If your daily life isn’t active enough, it is highly possible (and in my experience probable) that you will take in more food to sustain your longer workouts - more food than you actually need. You’ll end up maintaining your weight despite your best efforts, or only losing a little before hitting a plateau. Try focusing on the big picture, and set smaller, more-attainable daily goals. They will pay off.
Lastly, avoid injury and keep your body developing evenly by being sure to cross train with strength or resistance-based workouts. Every workout on my AND/life app will accomplish this. Just do a short class or custom workout a few times a week to balance out your running miles - and when I say short, I mean it - I have classes as little as 5 minutes long.
Consistency matters more than intensity or duration. So even if you only have time for 5 minutes, even if you can’t change your street clothes for workout ones, there is a class for you that will strengthen and lengthen your muscles - which you’ll desperately need as you up your mileage.