How to Increase your Running Mileage

We run farther to run faster. We run farther to prepare for epic races – 100 miler anyone? We run farther because we love running. In this article, Team RunRun shares their tips on how you can increase your weekly running mileage while staying healthy, and enjoying the process of working toward your big running goals. 

  1. The 10 Percent Rule

The “10 Percent Rule” is a commonly quoted guideline for increasing running volume that states you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% over the previous week’s mileage. Following this guideline, if you are running 30 miles per week and would like to increase your mileage the next week, you should increase by 3 miles and run 33 miles the following week. While the 10 Percent Rule is oft repeated, it is too general to be used for every runner in every situation and there are other methods that should also be considered. Runners who might find the most benefit from following a 10% weekly mileage increase are runners who are currently running about 30 to 60 miles per week and are looking to reach new personal mileage records. For lower mileage runners, a 10% jump from 10 miles in a week to 11 miles is not significant enough to make a meaningful difference. If your highest volume is 60 miles in a week and you jump to 66 miles and then 73 miles the next week and 80 miles the following week, that jump from 60 miles to 80 miles in a 3 week span might be too much. Like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, if you are striving for a new weekly mileage best and you are running between 30 and 60 miles per week, you might find the 10 Percent Rule to be just right.

Coach Georgia Porter, 28th at the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials, building up her high mileage like a boss
  1. Increase mileage based on the number runs per week

Dr. Jack Daniels, coach, physiologist, and author of Daniels’ Running Formula, advises runners to increase their weekly mileage by as many miles as the number of runs they do each week. Following this guideline, if you are running 5 times per week, you should increase your mileage by 5 miles; however, Daniels cautions against increasing your mileage by more than 10 miles at one time. Because it takes the human body about 14 to 28 days to adapt to a new stimulus, Daniels also suggests maintaining the same volume of running for 3 to 4 weeks before increasing mileage rather than increasing each week. An exception to this guideline for building mileage is if you are currently at a lower volume, maybe you have been taking a couple weeks off after a goal race (or to drink copious amounts of eggnog and devour cookies during the holidays), but you are increasing back to a previous volume that you have trained at within the last 6 weeks. In this scenario, if you have been running 60 miles per week and took two weeks off, you might be able to safely jump from 0 miles to 30 to 45 and then 60 in just a 3 week period. As you become more experienced with a certain level of training, your body doesn’t need as long to re-adapt to that level of training. 

  1. Hire a coach to help

Many runners who hit a wall in progressing their training find a lot of value from hiring a running coach. A coach can help assess where you are currently with your fitness and how to safely and logically progress you towards your running goals. Because every runner is a unique individual, there is not a general rule for increasing mileage that is universally applicable to all runners. There are times that a coach might apply the 10 Percent Rule or increase your mileage based on the number of days per week you are running, if those methods are appropriate for you as an athlete. However, a coach might also oscillate your mileage in other patterns based on your experience level, goals, lifestyle constraints, and adaption to the overall training program. A coach acts as an expert sounding board who can help you determine when to push your training and when to pull back the reins. Because a coach works with you as an individual athlete, hiring a coach might be a cost-effective way to ensure that you can safely increase your training volume. And you might just run faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… Okay, more likely just improve an immense amount, but you get the point!

fresno running coach
Coach CJ Albertson at the 2020 US Olympic Trials. Photo: Lucas Larson at Heartbreak Hill Running Company

Running is an incredible sport full of amazing people with goals that range from running their first 5K to completing a 100-mile trail race and everything in between. Whether you increase your mileage by 10% weekly, maintain the same mileage for 3 weeks and then increase based on the number of days per week you are running, or you hire a coach to create an individualized progression for you, we want you to be able to show up to the start line healthy, fit, and ready to run your best. Making smart and measured jumps to safely increase your mileage will give you the best odds of having a wonderful running experience!

Maxx Antush is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Maxx, check out his coaching page.