Progression: How to safely add more miles and intensity.
"Running is a simple sport." Many people don't understand the complexity of training. There is no one size fits all approach to improve your running. There is a complexity to this sport. Training hard on certain days, increasing mileage over time, taking easy runs, getting sleep, eating properly and recovering-it's all a little different for each runner and that's not even getting into the different distances. However, there are some principals that apply to all runners.
Today I want to talk about how to increase distance safely without overtraining or increasing your chance for injury. Now depending on your level and what race you're training for (distance) will make a difference. Remember if you're not training for a marathon you don't need to be running 100 miles a week. If you've just started running, running 50 miles a week is not the place to start. So first tip: Know your body, your level, and your goal. You need to be realistic starting off-that can get you into big trouble if you do too much too soon.
Figuring out your starting point is key.
But once you know what to start with there are some simple tips to help you progress.
So let's get started.
Just a side note: to see physiological adaptations and improvements it takes 3-6 weeks. So you'll notice in most training programs that they have 3-6 week cycles and then add an increase to a hard run or adding significant mileage. That also means you'll starting noticing a cycle of which your body, times, resting heart rate, and metabolic efficiency start improving-remember that, that's important to when you peak.
1. Basic principle for most people is to start increasing mileage by 10% each week. Now if you're starting at 10 miles per week, bumping it up to 14-15 isn't going to hurt you. The 10% rule is going to apply to most people once they are up to 30-40 miles per week. Also remember if you're up to 80+ miles a week adding 8-10 miles per week may be too much. This is where level and distance starts really coming into play.
2. Now it's also important to remember you have a cap or threshold. There is going to be a point in which adding more mileage is not going to be beneficial for you. This again applies to your level of fitness and experience running. Elite marathon runners run up to 125 miles a week. If you are a first timer, that would be INSANE. Let me also note, most of those runners have spent YEARS building up to that amount of mileage each week. Progression is not just weekly or monthly, but years! If you start burning out you're most likely hitting a breaking point. You need to stop. Too much mileage will not benefit you. I would suggest you stay on the safe side then going too far, especially if you are new to running. Everyone has a sweet spot. Take time to learn yours and ask professionals for help.
3. Remember the 80/20 rule of thumb. 80% easy/recovery and 20% hard/medium. This is HUGE for runners and progression.
So let's be honest
How many of you have ever felt or do feel in order to get faster you must run harder/faster more?
Like all of us right? And it's right to an extent.
But one of the most common mistakes runners make, especially competitive people, is to do too many hard runs and not enough easy/recovery runs. YOU WILL NOT GET FASTER IF YOU DO NOT RECOVER. This is proven science. If you do not allow your muscles to repair themselves, you will go into burnout and overtraining and let me tell you something. IT SUCKS.
If you were a college athlete, watch out, this will most likely be you.
In college I ran the 5k. I typically ran 40-55 miles a week. I did lot's of 400s, 800s, mile repeats and tempo runs. And if I'm being honest, I usually went to hard too soon and peaked early.
So when I got into marathon training I thought, well if I want to get faster, I have to run my long runs fast. WRONG!
Most of your long runs should be relatively easy. The goal is to build aerobic capacity (work on endurance). If only 10% of your week is supposed to be hard and you're running 10-20% of your weekly mileage on your long run hard then you're already over doing it. Make your hard days hard and your easy days easy. As you progress as an athlete you may start incorporating some tempos or race pace on some of the longer runs, but typically you'll have your 2 speeds day through out the week and that should be it. This is a really important part of running.