How to Safely Increase Your Running Mileage

If you are like me and enjoy running outdoors but wimp out when the temps drop under 40 degrees, you might be getting tired of running on the treadmill by this time of year!  I will admit, on that first warm day of spring, I have the tendency to be overly excited and run as fast and as far as I can outside.  I usually pay for it by the end of my run and the next few days.  This is when I remember my educational background and realize what I did was very wrong and not good for my body!  I then listen to my own advice I give patients and slow down to my normal pace and gradually return to running longer distances outside.

But what is the best way to increase your mileage without getting hurt, especially when you want to run those long distances in the warm, sunny weather?  The 10% rule has been around for many years and is recommended by physical therapists. The guideline means you should not increase your total mileage by more than 10% each week.  A recent study in October 2014 in JOSPT put this “rule of thumb” to the test.

After researchers tracked 873 runners throughout 1 year, they found that runners who increased their mileage for more that 30% each week for 2 weeks were at a much higher risk for injury. Those who increased by less than 10% had significantly less risk of developing injuries, especially “distance-related injuries” which included knee pain, hip pain, and shin splints.  Other factors for injuries may also include the training surface, footwear, cadence or pace, and intrinsic factors like muscle tightness or weakness.  Still, the widely accepted 10% rule still stands and should be used by every runner, no matter what your ability level.

Once the weather improves, make sure you are ready to run by keeping your muscles strong this winter and not over-do-it when you return outdoors.  If you have further questions or any problems that limit your running, I’d be happy to help!

– Nicole
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