Ask Coach Bradley - How To Increase Weekly Mileage
Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Head Coach / Director of Training Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions!
Q: I just started running again after a 3-month layoff to get ready for my [Wintrust] Lakefront 10 miler, how quickly can I increase my mileage?
A: While the general "rule" of thumb is to not increase your mileage by more than 10% per week, if you look at the rule from a practical sense, it is a relatively slow progression and sometimes hard to follow due to just how conservative it is. If someone is eager to increase their training it is unlikely from the exercise behavior standpoint to stick to the 10% rule.
Instead, when increasing mileage, consider factors such as age, weight, overall running experience, and training pace. Try to increase your mileage by running a little bit more each time you step out the door. However, keep your frequency relatively constant. For example, if you are running 3 x per week, try to run slightly more each day versus going from 3 x per week to 5 x per week. Those types of frequency jumps bring higher injury risk than a consistent frequency routine.
Additionally, one key strategy that may not be as commonly followed is the concept of step-back weeks. With this concept, you can increase your mileage for 1-3 weeks at a time but should always have weeks where you "step back" or reduce mileage and allow your body to recover. Below are three approaches to consider when increasing mileage.
Conservative Approach – No more than 10% increase per week, build miles one week, then step back one week
Moderate Approach – 10-20% increase per week, increase mileage 2 weeks in a row, then step back for a week
Aggressive Approach – 20-25% increase per week, increase mileage for 3 weeks in a row, then step back for a week
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