High mileage running

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How many miles a week do you run? Are you a mileage maniac or do you believe in quality not quantity. Your optimum mileage will depend on your training background, your physical robustness and your running goals.

What you do this year should be determined by what you did last year. Many runners have found that improvement has come when they have increased the number of miles they run over a period of time but the key is to progress it gradually and carefully. Sudden increases in volume or intensity could be asking for trouble.

To keep the immune system working well high mileage runners must ensure that they get adequate rest and  recovery in between training sessions and must think carefully, not only about the type of foods they are eating but the timing of taking the nutrition and fuel on board.

To stave off injury the high mileage runner would be wise to introduce prehab. work to avoid needing the rehab. once they become injured. This could consist of regular massage, hydrotherapy, foam rolling, stretching and flexibility sessions and also strength and conditioning sessions. However, it won't be enough though if a runner increases the volume too soon. The human body is incredible in the way that it adapts to the loads and stress we put on it but this happens gradually and it won't cope if it is overloaded too quickly.

Although improvements with increased mileage can be seen, the incremental improvement decreases the more mileage you do. In Daniels’ Running Formula, renowned coach and physiologist Jack Daniels explains the principle of diminishing return, saying , “Adding more and more mileage to your weekly training does not produce equal percentages of improvement in competitive fitness.” Take the example of someone who starts training with 10 miles per week, then doubles it to 20, then again doubles to 40. The benefits reaped from 40 miles per week are not double those realised as a result of 20-mile weeks. Adding more and more mileage to your weekly training does not produce equal percentages of improvement. The same thing applies to increasing the amount of faster, quality training.

So, what is the optimum  mileage for any one individual and how long should it take to reach it? That is the golden question! Every individual is different and while some run their best times on 40 miles per week others run theirs on 140 and there is some extent of trial and error in finding the happy optimum. As for progression, well they say it takes 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to reach your full potential. This would equate to ten years if you were to practise for three hours a day. However, we know that it would be foolish to start with three hours per day and it may not ever be sensible to train for that long each day. Patience is a virtue and running is for life and not just a short term goal!

Check for further advice in the Training and Advice section of our website here.