Running: The 10% Rule

author : jtriathlete
comments : 0

Member Question

I'm curious about the 'don't increase your run by more than 10% per week' rule. Is there a minimum mileage under which this doesn't apply? If you're coming off a break and want to start back up again where do you start? Thanks!

Answer by Jim Hallberg
D3 Multisport.com 

Hello fellow runner,

How would we increase our mileage safely depends on our previous running mileage within the last two months and what distance you will be racing. I like to start rebuilding run volume at the beginning of the season or after a real good break from running. This is also applicable to those who are coming back and trying to build up from injury.

Assuming one is healthy and we want to focus and building our run from scratch, I recommend running all the time, (just kidding, or am I?).

But what if I told you that I want you to run five out of seven days a week and maybe if you're a pure runner with a background, then I would say seven days a week. If it's five days then I would run three days in a row, a day off then another two days in a row. You need to run fresh and strong right now, not after a bunch of other workouts. This is a focus type program to build up your run again.

"But that's too much," you say.

Lets re-program the muscle memory.  Lets get back into the swing of things.

When you were running well, let's assume you could run 25 miles a week or more. That's five miles a day 5x a week average. Yes, of course you had your long run but work with me here.

At what pace and effort should you start running? Well, a fun and happy pace. If you must wear your HR monitor fine but don't stare at it right now, just go by feel through these next few weeks as you run and keep at Z1-Z2 or perceived effort of 5-6 out of 10. Even if the pace is slightly faster, just have fun. 

The 1st week

For the first week I want you to run one mile a day. That's it. For five to seven days. So now at the end of the week you're at five to seven miles for the week. You spend more time getting dressed and putting shoes on. But that's ok.

One mile and your done, you have no chance of fatiguing. You will most likely run pretty well, but still in a warm up. Just as you may start to feel good you're done. Don't do any more, just be done. 

Week 

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Sun

TOTAL

1

1mile

1mile

1mile

optional

1mile

1mile

1mile

optional

1mile

5-7

2

2miles

2miles

2miles

optional

2miles

2miles

2miles

optional

2miles

10-14

3

3miles

3miles

(strides)

3miles

optional

3miles

3miles

3miles

optional

3miles

15-21

2nd week

For the 2nd week, I want you to run two miles a day for 5-7 days. Though if you need a slower buildup then do 1.5 miles every day for week one. So now you're at 10-14 miles for week two. Your run should be light and happy, with good form, and almost giddy and fun. Because why? You're only running two miles. You're not in any state of fatigue. You have no dread of 'better slow down' so you can maintain pace.

YES, this is FAR MORE than 10% week over week but FAR LESS than what you could probably do -remember you were doing 25 miles a week and we are roughly 50% of that.

3rd week

For the 3rd week, I want five days for a triathlete and seven days for a runner, at, you guessed it, three miles a day. Again you should feel pretty good in your running, because you're not having any long runs yet. You're enjoying running, you're light and happy and maybe by now you're leg turnover is probably pretty good. Your pace might be a touch faster than normal - but that's ok. Thats great, as long as you're not really pushing it.  Now you are running five to seven days and nothing more than three miles. So that's 15-21 miles. And we have not even started our long runs yet.

So thats 50% percent more from last week. But we are still keeping it safe and simple. We are not doing this as a Brick, and I prefer that you do these in a fresh state of mind and physical ability.

There is NO speed work, there is NO testing yourself, there is NO long run or hard run. Just run with good form, at a relaxed and comfortable effort.

Now we are closing in on our weekly mileage assuming you were doing 25 miles a week. This is where we start to differ in our ability and recovery and if I were to ask you to run your 4th week with five to seven days of running for four miles this would be doable for most. But if you're running eight to nine minute miles you're only at 32-36 minutes for a run. Even a 10 minute miler is only 40 minutes. But, for two different runners that's a difference of 40+ minutes of running for that one week.

This is were one needs to ask what are our goals? Sprint triathlete and a 5k runner, or Ironman triathlete and or Marathon runner?

Some athletes can handle more miles because the time it takes to cover the distance doesn't take as long. So you need to ask yourself if you're running by time or mileage. I recommend running by time over the winter, and in late winter, early spring (Feb-March) switch over to running by mileage. But why? Because we don’t run races based on a time standard, we run by a set distance standard. And you need to teach your body to subtly be aware of these mileages. To know you can cover the distance required in your training.

Week

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Long Run

Sun

TOTAL

4

4mile

4mile

strides

4mile

optional

4mile

4mile

4mile

optional

4mile

20-24

5

4miles

5mile

strides

5miles

 

4miles

6miles

 

24

6

optional

3miles

5miles

strides

5miles

 

5miles

8miles

 

23-26

4rth week

Let's assume that you just did your 4rth week, at four miles a week for five to seven days. Congrats! You're at 20-24 miles for the week, but you didn't do any long runs. From here on, this is were many of us would start separating our runs, adding long runs and hill repeats, and some bits of harder efforts.

5th week

Lets assume now at week five you can add some long runs. Are you going back to running three days a week, or running four or five days a week? This is what you need to answer for yourself. I personally think that once in a while, once a month, its good to run more often, ie. 4-5-6 days a week but with the same mileage. So, it's not a lot more mileage but instead more frequency.

So, let's assume you have been doing five days of running, and your long run has been four miles. You covered 20 miles for week four. For week five I would run 22-24 miles with your long run being only two more miles than the previous week - or 6 miles. From here I think that it would be recommended to not do more than two miles more for your long run assuming you're running nine minute miles or faster. Ten minute milers should probably add only one mile at a time once they are up to six miles for the long run (1hr).

6th week

I believe that for the most part, there is an ideal rule of needing to be able to run one hour before adding much more weekly mileage, long runs, a speed or adding tempo emphasis.

Going by distance of eight miles for one hour, adding 10% is only six more minutes, so I think you're just as fine by going one more mile (two miles extra total for your long run - eight miles) to keep on your mileage track.

Now for an experienced runner who quickly gets into run fitness, you might find that going two miles more for your long run, every other week is just as good. Something like 8,10,8,10,12,10,12,14.

But for a less experienced runner we will simply keep one mile additions.  Again this really depends on your race goals and needs.

So, by week six your long run is covered, and your weekly mileage should be very similar.

Week

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Long Run 

Sun

TOTAL

7

4mile

5miles

strides

5mile

optional

4mile

4mile

8miles

 

26-30

8

4miles

5miles

strides

5miles

 

4miles

9miles

 

27

9

optional

3miles

5miles

strides

5miles

5miles

 

8miles

 

23-26

10

 

6miles

5miles

6miles

 

9miles

 

26

11

optional

3miles

6miles

hard

 

6miles

 

5-6miles

easy

10miles

 

27-31 with optional

12

4mile

6miles

4mile

 

4mile

8miles

optional

4mile

26-30

7th and 8th week

Going forward, you're better off adding an easy short run to bump up your mileage especially if most of your runs are adding up to roughly 45 minutes for five to six miles for an 8minute per mile average run.

9th week and beyond

By week nine I would not run more during your normal weekly runs, not yet. Keep them at 45 minutes or so. Adding more mileage needs to come from adding one more day, but this day is three miles. You are now running five to six miles during your runs 3x a week, and your long run is now eight miles. This would be 23-26 miles per week. You want to get to 30-35 miles?

Notice we are not running any more than three days in a row if your a little more conservative and running is not your nature, or if you are coming off of an injury

Notes

Weeks 1-7 there are NO hard efforts, its fun and friendly and, most likely, should be as fast as you can manage at a conversational pace.

I would consider waiting until week nine or so to start adding your speed and strength sessions. The other option is doing strides, and or pick ups for about 20-30 seconds at a time throughout the run. This could be started as early as week three, one to two days a week. Keep the pick-ups under control and work on form, leg turnover and push-off, build up to a 5k speed over 20-30 seconds and back into a jog.

So build nice and steady, consistency is key, and start your run program out light. Even for the most experienced runner this can be of value, and you’ll find that by the time you get back to your “normal” mileage and long runs, you’ll be running them slightly faster. 

Be safe and have fun.

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date: March 29, 2013

Author


jtriathlete

Some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach I believe you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses, but together we’ll build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

Author

avatarjtriathlete

Some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach I believe you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses, but together we’ll build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

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