Follow this simple rule to make you a better runner

By: Pat Riley

A lot of people suffer from extreme motivation at the beginning of their goal to get fit or run faster and longer, then quickly fall behind as their body starts to reject the new running/walking workload. This is a simple matter of over-training. While most would associate over-training with someone who is running 100+ miles/week, it can very easily happen to someone who is just getting back into fitness or starting to increase mileage to raise their fitness level.

Increasing your fitness is a simple matter of properly challenging your body and balancing the stress and recovery time to allow the muscles and cardio systems to improve over time. Remember that recovery is as, if not more, important than the stress in building muscle and cardio.

When the mind sees quick improvement (running longer, running faster, losing weight, etc.) we are more apt to continue the motivation and hit our goals. When our body starts rejecting our increase in activity, we quickly become discouraged and the goal starts to slip away. Everyone needs to be very careful when adding on to their workload to avoid injury, pain, fatigue, and the mental struggles that go with negatives feelings while running.

The best way to increase the running/walking work load, and to avoid the pitfalls of early over-training, is to follow the 10% rule. On the surface, this rule looks like this (For our example, we will start with someone who ran 20 miles last week):

Last Week – 20 Miles

This Week – 22 Miles (10% increase)

Next Week – 24-25 Miles (Another 10% increase)

Third Week – 27-28 Miles (Another 10% increase

Fourth Week – 25-26 Miles (Recovery Week)

Fifth Week – 29 Miles (10% increase)

We begin the 4 week process again during the fifth week. The process is 3 weeks of 10% growth and 1 week backing off for recovery.  You can see that in a little over a month, you can increase your mileage greatly and before you know it, you will be knocking our 40-60 mile weeks.


As an alternative, I mixed it up a little bit during my Sunday long runs, I followed, or created, the 1 Mile rule, which meant that this week’s long run would be 1 mile longer than last weeks. This allowed for steady growth in my long runs over the course of 2 months to turn my 8 mile long run into a 15 mile long run. Yes, it took two months to build up to a 15 mile long run, but the gradual buildup made it really easy to get to the next level. 

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