Recently in these pages we talked about the benefits of increasing your weekly mileage and how doing this can improve your overall running performance. For most runners a small increase in mileage in the short term will not greatly increase their chances of injury and if this increase turns into a consistent training variation the benefits outweigh the risk of injury.
The main injury risk associated with an increase in mileage is increasing beyond your capabilities. Therefore you should structure your mileage based on your recent running volume. Going from 40km per week to 80km in a week will have very little benefit if you cannot sustain the increase and need to go back to 40km after a week or two.
The best method of increasing is to develop a plan that will allow you to increase gradually and then sustain the new weekly volume. The easiest two strategies are;
- Increase your easy runs by 5-10 min
- Consistent long runs
Almost every runner can make 5-10 minutes more in their daily schedule to increase their run. This is fail safe plan against injury for most runners as the extra mileage will hardly be noticed. Only strategy needed is a commitment to get out the door for 5-10 minutes.
Long runs should be run consistently for any long distance runner, they are the staple run for improving endurance over time. Make time in your schedule every week to run long regardless of the period in your training program. The distance or time of these long runs can vary based on your ability, running background a goal races. Easy rule of thumb is to make your long run 25-30% of your total weekly mileage.
How rapidly you should increase mileage can vary from runner to runner. If you are new to running you will need to be patient, the body will take time to get used to the increase. If you have a history of injury then you should be cautious, this does not mean you can’t increase mileage but monitor yourself as you increase mileage. Remember the benefits will only be delivered if you can maintain the increase for a period of time, be patient.
If you are an intermediate or advanced runner with little history of injury then you can push greater mileage with confidence. Increase mileage to a point where you can maintain the increase for 3-4 weeks without suffering fatigue or burnout. If you do feel you are starting to burnout then you’ve increased too quickly and may need to plateau or decrease.
Incorporating regular rest days into your schedule will help you avoid burnout or fatigue. We recommend not planning rest days and using these when you feel you need to rest. This helps you avoid burnout and injury as you rest when the mind or body says no, and run when you are motivated, ready and willing.
When you increase mileage you should be attempting to create a new normal for yourself that over a period of weeks feels normal. Therefore you should only increase to what you feel you can capably sustain. If you achieve this you certainly give yourself a better chance of remaining injury free.
You’ll get great benefits over time by increasing your mileage, you’ll get even greater benefits over time by remaining injury free and enjoying your running.