As a distance runner I go through periods of lower mileage and high mileage (for me). My body cannot sustain high marathon training mileage year round without getting injured so it is important for me to incorporate both into my training. It’s now time to start increase my mileage again.
After my marathon in December I took some time off, eased back into running, and then kept my mileage relatively low for me for the next 2 months. I focused on shorter workouts and just gave my body a break from the daily in and out of higher mileage.
Now it is time to start ramping back up my mileage and while it first it feels intimidating, I’m also excited to get back into what feels like my “normal” routine.
As your mileage increases, the little things become even more important in your daily training and life. As I begin to get my miles back up I always focus on these 5 essential parts of keeping my body and mind healthy.
Slowly increase your miles (not all at once). It’s easy to want to jump back into higher mileage quickly, but it’s important to do it in a slow and controlled way. You probably have heard of the 10% rule and generally that is your best bet! Don’t increase more than 10% per week. More experienced runners can often get away with pushing this a little, but if you do you are always taking a little bit of a risk. For example: if you are currently running 40 miles per week then the following week increase it by 4 miles. By doing this you are letting your body ease back into the miles instead of throwing it back into it without warning.
Slow down. When I first begin increasing my mileage I don’t add in longer workouts, I just increase my easy mileage. You can add in longer warm ups and cool downs for you workouts, but typically I just will increase my recovery days by 1 or 2 miles. The key with doing this is that you really focus on keeping these days true recovery. That means slowing down so that your body is using the miles to reset and recover. If you aren’t sure what this is, the best way is to base it off your hear rate. I have found that if I pay attention to my hear rate it is giving me the most accurate data on if I am truly running easy. It’s important to note that easy pace is going to be different for everyone so don’t judge what your easy pace should be off something you see on Instagram or another blog.
Don’t skip strength. I’ll admit that when I am running higher mileage things like strength work tend to go first. Running starts to take up more time and it is easy to cut out things like strength. Don’t! I know it takes extra time but a stronger body (in my case stronger: hips, glutes, and legs in general) make it easier for your body to handle an increase in mileage. Yes, sometimes you end up sore but if you time your strength work around your workouts (I typically like to do strength work the day before a recovery day or right after a workout) then it will allow you to run on sore legs when your pace doesn’t matter. Do your strength! Don’t neglect it.
Adjust your fueling. Running lower mileage doesn’t require as much fuel. As you begin to increase your miles (at least for me) it requires me to also adjust my fueling. I eat more as I increase my miles, which isn’t probably surprising but it also requires me to time my fueling correctly. It sometimes can take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your body but it does require more. This means the food you eat before AND after you runs. If you don’t increase your fueling with your training then your runs will become frustrating, you’ll start not hitting your workouts, and your body will begin to break down. Don’t let this happen!
When in doubt be more conservative. Increasing your mileage is a process where you should be extremely careful and when in doubt always be more cautious. If you feel like your body isn’t responding well, step back. If you are noticing you are having a lot of bad runs then back off a bit. Some people have an easier time adjusting to the mileage increase than others and it is important to learn your body and respond as necessary. You will eventually notice that your body has a “sweet spot” when it comes to mileage. For me (during marathon training) it is 55-65 miles per week. When I try to go over 65 miles per week I notice a definite difference and I know my body has a harder time keeping up. Everyone’s “sweet spot” will be different.
There are many different phases of training. I try to focus on enjoying them all! As I work to get my mileage back up to distance training I use every single one of these to monitor my progress and make adjustments when necessary. Don’t try to make the jump in 1 week or even 2. Take your time and increase slowly. Doing it the right way will pay off in the long run.