Is there a point where the number of miles you run begins to hurt your performance? Some say yes. The goal is to reach race day healthy and uninjured. There is a point for every runner where you have reached your potential and adding miles only places you at risk for injury.
How many miles you run depends on a lot of things (This should be the standard answer to any running question) and everyone is different (ditto). Amount of sleep, life schedule, how long you’ve been training, and injury disposition are just a few.
Here are some basic rules to keep in mind as you increase your miles:
- You need to run higher miles for longer races. This seems to make sense since your body needs to be accustomed to running the distance you are going to be racing.
- If you want to finish strong and hit higher performance goals, you need to run more miles. If you just want to finish a race, then your miles can stay lower.
- Quality over quantity. If you are doing quality runs (speed work, long runs, hill climbs, and the like), you should reduce your miles because of the added stress the more quality runs put on it.
- Another point on quality. If you want to hit a particular pace during a race, you need to train at that pace.
- 10% golden rule. Increase your miles slowly to allow your body to adapt to the stress of the added miles. Experts agree that increasing by 10% a week is safe and effective.
- Re-read the bold sentence in paragraph one (I’ll put it here just in case you don’t want to scroll up. The goal is to reach race day healthy and uninjured).
Here are some general guidelines:
5K: Beginner 10-20 miles a week; mortal 20-25 miles per week; Elite 70-80 miles per week.
10k: Beginner 15-25 miles a week; mortal 25-30 miles per week; Elite 80-100 miles per week.
Half Marathon: Beginner 20-30 miles per week; mortal 30-40 miles per week; Elite 100-110 miles per week.
Marathon: Beginner 30-40 miles per week; mortal 30-50 miles per week; Elite 100-140 miles per week.
Ultramarathon: Beginner 55-65 miles per week; mortal 60-75 miles per week; Elite 120-150 miles per week.
Now that we have an idea about how many miles, we need to know how frequently. Most coaches and trainers recommend running four days a week and taking one complete rest day every week or one every two weeks. Elite runners are running twice a day on run days to get their miles in. They run a high quality run in the morning and then easier miles in the evening.
Most marathon and under plans schedule a run three days during the week and then a long run on the weekend. This format lets you do a quality run in the middle of two easy runs during the week. Then it gives you a day off before your long weekend run and a day off after your long run to recover. You can choose to add in strength training or some type of cross training on one or two of your non run days which can help you become a more balanced runner.