When beginning a running or walking program, people often want to know how to increase mileage (or exercise duration) quickly without getting injured. Nothing sets back runners like an injury and it discourages a lot of people from wanting to get back out there. An important way to protect yourself and increase your enjoyment is to follow the 10% rule. The 10 percent rule is designed to allow your body to adjust to this new stress. The body is incredible. It will adjust and respond very well to your exercise, but it can’t do it all at once. If you increase your mileage a little at a time the body will respond and become stronger more quickly.


So What Is the 10% Rule?

The 10% Rule is a way to ensure that mileage gains are rapid and lasting. How does it work? For most people, the expectation should be to increase distance and duration by about 10 percent per week. For example, if you’re walking or running 10 miles this week (a good mileage to start), don’t do more than 11 miles next week, 12 miles the week after, 13 miles the next week, 14.5 the next week, 16 the next, and so on. It doesn’t take long to get to a mileage that you feel comfortable sticking with.

This mileage and increase in mileage should also be done at an aerobic effort. That means going slow enough to have a pretty normal conversation with a friend.  That aerobic base training is the bread and butter of changing your body into an aerobic machine.  It is also worthwhile to mentions that if you are trying to do an event like a half or full marathon, it is best to start training far enough in advance that you can work your way up to that distance more gradually. When you don’t have as much time as you would like then make sure to stay conversational in all your training and give yourself a week or two to recover after the event. Then, resume running using this 10% rule.


How To Add Intensity

When you feel ready to increase the intensity or duration of your workouts, you become more at risk for injury.  If you’re planning on increasing your intensity during the week, you should back down your weekly mileage by 10 percent. The body doesn’t often like increasing volume and hard efforts at the same time.

For example, if you’re doing 10 miles this week, but you want to add a more intense workout to your week next week, back your weekly mileage down to 9 miles to ensure you don’t put too much strain on your body. This allows your body to react to the stress of the added intensity without the added stress of increased mileage at the same time. This helps decrease your risk of injury and allows your body to more fully absorb the benefits of your intense workouts.


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