Increasing Weekly Mileage Safely
Increasing your training volume will depend on your fitness level, running experience, your susceptibility and history of injuries, and when race day is. It is smart to lay out a training plan ahead of time and keep a running log to track your weekly mileage, workout specifics (duration, distance, speed, etc.), how you felt during the workout, and anything else you think will help you create an even better training plan in the future. When you increase your mileage you will want to determine your baseline mileage, when your race is, if you want to plan adaptation weeks, when you will have your deload weeks, and when you will taper for your race. Planning ahead will help you to achieve your goals and prevent injuries while you’re at it!
Use the mileage you feel most comfortable running each week (it’s not too easy but not too hard either) as your baseline mileage. If you are starting below your baseline mileage use the rule of 10 to increase your mileage each week. The rule of 10 means to increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week for 3 weeks. Part of the added mileage should go towards your long run, increase your long run by 10% each week as well. This allows you to slowly increase your mileage weekly and not over do it. Another way to add easy miles into your week is by increasing your warm up and/or cool down distance.
When you reach your baseline mileage you can get a little more conservative and increase by 5-10% each week. The amount of mileage per week you work up to will depend on the race you are training for. Training for a 5k requires less weekly mileage than a marathon or ultra race. A marathon race requires 20-40+ miles a week, depending on your goal race time and fitness level/ running experience.
When Your Race Is
Use your race date and work backward to create a weekly mileage plan. You will need to plan what peak weekly mileage you want to work up to and write that down for three-four weeks before race day. From there you can work backward to plan out your weekly mileage, decreasing by 10% each week.
The two to three weeks before a marathon should be when you taper. A taper for a marathon should be between 14-20 days. Two weeks before race day cut your mileage by 60% and the week before the race cut down by 30% of overall weekly mileage from the three weeks before the race when your weekly mileage was the highest.
Adaptation weeks are weeks where you repeat the training you completed the prior week. This is a beneficial tool (especially for those who are injury prone) that can be utilized to allow your body more time to adjust to an increased amount of mileage, intensity, or quality of workouts. Runners often increase mileage too quickly and this is a conservative method to help prevent over training.
Adaptation weeks are not needed after every increase in mileage or intensity of a workout but are most beneficial when you have completed a strenuous week of training.
Deload/ Rest Weeks
A deload week should be used after three weeks of consistently increasing your mileage by 10%. This deload week can be a decrease in mileage between 10-25% depending on your training experience, how hard you are training, and susceptibility to injuries.
Deload weeks are most necessary during hard training cycles. Most of the time while building a base of mileage a deload week is not as necessary, especially for experienced runners because your body has already completed the amount of miles you are running per week. However, it is important to listen to your body, and if it is telling you to cut back for a week due to discomfort or pain it is smart to do so.
By using these techniques and individualizing them to yourself, you are less likely to get hurt, feel better each week that you increase your mileage, and overall perform better on race day!
~Sierra, The Tunnel Marathons Trainer