Increase Mileage Safely For Your Running Success!

Coach Casey · December 24, 2018

Each year there’s time to set some goals for yourself. The goals could be broad or specific, but no matter what you need a plan in place to achieve those goals. Maybe your goal is to increase your weekly running mileage? If that’s the case, good for you! That’s a great goal and I fully support it! However, I will only lend you my passionate support if you do it in a safe and responsible way.

Building mileage is a key element of training for any runner. Mileage progression is to run training as coagulation and acidification are to making a fine gruyere… too obscure? Okay, how about, mileage progression is VERY, VERY important.

In order for the body to experience any type of physiological development or growth it has to experience a certain amount of stress or strain followed by controlled recovery (Stress + Rest = Growth). Once your body has become attune to running certain miles at a certain pace, it’s time to either increase intensity (pace) or increase volume (mileage). This weekly volume increase however can be detrimental and can lead to injury if not handled in a patient and progressive way.

Take it in small doses

No matter what amount of weekly mileage you’re starting at, it is important to only increase by small amounts with every successive progression. Instead of moving from 20 miles per week to 40 miles per week take it in doses no larger than 10% at a time. Moving from 20 miles to 22 miles to 24.4 miles (no need to be THAT specific, 24.5 is fine), and so on may seem all too minor but it will allow your body to be eased into a new routine. Dip your toe in the water before jumping in.

Be patient and allow for your body to catch up

Even with smaller, 10% weekly increases your body needs to get used to a period of stability where it can adapt properly to the added volume. This is especially important when you’re moving into the much higher mileage weeks but, as with anything, the sooner you start forming a habit, the better. You should maintain the same weekly mileage for 2-3 consecutive weeks before increasing another 10%. Give your body a chance to catch up to the “new you.”

Increase more than just your mileage

Running for an extra few miles a week is the easy part. What most often leads to injury problems as mileage is increased is the lack of adjustment of supplemental activities. These include warmups, cool downs, stretching, strengthening, hydration, rest, and nutrition. As your miles increase so should your added running additives. Spend a little bit more time rolling out, working core exercises, walk/jogging before and after runs, drink an extra few glasses of water per day, and stay on top of the necessary “little things” to keep yourself fit, healthy, and injury free.

Listen to your body

You know your own body better than I do, I’d be willing to bet on that fact. Be conscious of your body’s needs. If a 10% weekly mileage increase becomes too much and you’re experiencing some aches, pains and/or abnormal exhaustion, decrease to 5% per week or maintain your current mileage for 4 weeks versus 2. Building mileage is individualized and is by no means an exact science. This is a fantastic place to start but be aware of what you find works best for you. As long as you are developing positively and staying healthy, you’re doing it right!

Find your “sweet spot” 

This last one may seem obvious when explained, but you’d be surprised. The body cannot handle increased mileage to an infinite end. While it is fun as a coach to ponder how much weekly mileage the human body can handle, you do not have to answer my musings. Everyone has an ideal amount of weekly mileage that creates peak performances and is sustainable. Once you’ve found that “sweet spot” don’t be afraid to hang out there for a while. A few weeks of lower mileage tapering and maybe a few weeks of pushing the volume barrier a bit may create added physiological adaptations but that ideal mileage mark can continuously you for as long as you’d like.

Want a professional coach to guide you through your mileage increase? Get going with your Charge Running membership today!

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