So you’ve been running for a while now and you’ve decided you want to start running farther. Whether you are training for a race, trying to increase your level of fitness, or have just fallen in love with running and want to spend more time out there doing it, there are certain things to remember as you start to increase your mileage.
One rule to remember as you increase your mileage is the 10 percent rule. The 10 percent rule has been around for a very long time and basically it says that you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more that 10 percent from the previous week. Sometimes it can be hard to follow this rule. When you feel good and your energy levels are high the common reaction is to run more. However, the majority of running injuries are often from overuse and happen when you increase your training program too quickly.
So now that I’ve told you what experts believe is the proper way to increase your mileage, I’m here to tell you that I’m guilty of not exactly following this rule myself. The more experienced you become with running the more in touch you become with your body. You will eventually find your “sweet spot” with mileage. What I mean by that is, you’ll have a certain weekly mileage that feels just right. You aren’t overly tired, but you still feel like you put in good effort. The more mileage you put in each week the higher your risk of injury becomes. This doesn’t mean you should steer clear of running high mileage, if you are training for a marathon increasing mileage comes with the territory. It simply means you need to listen to your body and take some extra steps to ensure that you are giving it the recovery it needs.
Your body will let you know when you are pushing too hard and it’s time to back off a little. When I put in a week of higher than normal mileage or incorporate more intense speed workouts into my training I can definitely feel the effects of it. My leg muscles are tighter, they feel heavy, my whole body feels more fatigued, and I want to sleep more. When I start to feel symptoms like these I know it’s time to spend more time on recovery and scale back the intensity of my workouts the following week. To help my body recover I’ll spend extra time rolling on my foam roller, rolling out any extra tight spots. I focus more on my strength workouts so that I don’t start compensating during runs, I make sure I’m eating enough of the right foods that promote recovery, and I try to go to bed a little earlier and get more sleep.
Determining how much mileage to increase each week varies from person to person. If you are new to running the increase may be far less than that of an experienced runner. Instead of focusing on hitting a certain amount of miles each week I think it’s more important to make the miles you are running meaningful. Just running to hit a number doesn’t make you a better runner and may ultimately result in being sidelined with an injury. Making gradual and consistent increases to your mileage over months and even years is far more likely to leave you with positive results than trying to run 30 miles one week, 35 the next, and so on. Experimenting with mileage increases is the only real way to find out what works best for you and how you’ll find that “sweet spot”. As long as you listen to your body, take your time, be consistent, and recover properly you should be able to successfully start running more miles.