I’m A Newbie: Adding Mileage

Hey there, Newbies! How are your workouts going? Do you love running yet? Have you felt that “runner’s high” that we seem to yap on and on about? Yeah, sometimes that one takes a while. But I bet you feel better already. Keep up the good work and, in the mean time, let’s talk about building mileage.

A question I get asked a lot is “How much mileage should I add to build up to a <insert distance> race?” The conventional wisdom is 10% each week. I have heard the 10% rule since I was a little tike running in my bright pink Umbros and cotton t-shirt. (It was the style back then, don’t judge). I like the 10% rule for long runs, but not so much for mid-week workouts. Here’s what I would do:

Work your way up to running 3 miles straight. Once you can do that, you can start training for just about any distance, you just need the time to train right. Mix up your weekly workouts (3-4 of them) between an easy run, interval training (aka THE DREADED SPEED WORKOUT) and a tempo/hilly run. Use one of your miles as a warm-up and break up the workout portion so that it adds up to about 4-5 miles (this turns into 6-7 when you’re marathon training, but let’s not put the cart before the horse, ok?). With breaks in between during interval workouts, you’ll be able to cover more miles than if you just continuously run. This will also help you build up your mileage on your long runs and make it easier for your body to do what it does during those longer miles.

Ok, now onto those long runs. This is where I like the 10% rule, with a modification. I would start with one mile more than you have ever run and make that your start distance. Once you feel like you’ve conquered that distance, add on 10% (if you start at 4 miles, you add on .4 miles = 4.4 miles, the next time you add .44 ≈ 5.0 miles). I feel like you need to cover every new distance twice before you move onto adding more, but that’s just the way I roll.

And here’s the trick: Every three weeks, taper back and run a shorter long run. This will give your legs a little bit of a break during a time when you’re adding a bunch of mileage AND offer you the opportunity to go a little bit faster and rock that shorter long run! Score!

Don’t be afraid of adding distance and struggling through a long run. We all have those days. If you start having unusual or nagging pains, please taper it back and do more strength training. The dangers of adding too much too soon are well documented and include developing shin splints, ITB syndrome, tendonitis of just about any and all tendons in your legs, lower back pain and a whole host of nasty stuff that’s really annoying to get rid of. So, listen to your body and be smart about your mileage.

I’m headed out to Summer Streets tomorrow morning! Woohoo! My favorite time of year! If you’re in New York City, it’s must do. Also, don’t forget about Escape To Yoga Island happening tomorrow at Governor’s Island. Stop by and show some love to my luluelmon folk. All day yoga!

But before that, go out and run!