I’ve been asked by a number of the runners I coach, and on some of my runners workshops recently, how many miles they can build up to within a certain period of time.

This is an interesting question and one that will inevitably differ depending on the runner asking it.

However there are some really important elements to increasing mileage that will apply to you and indeed almost every other runner, because they are vital to enable your body to cope with the increase safely and without injury. In the main your body must be able to cope with any increase, and there are things you should do in advance to prepare for any such increase.

I’ve listed these here:

  1. Rest more effectively. Running on it’s own isn’t where you make the gains in fitness – it’s when you stop running and you recover through rest that your body starts to rebuild. Continuing to run will simply add more stress, which in some cases can be a useful tactical training tool, your coach should advise you when to do this for the absolutely maximal effect.
  2. Get strong. I hold strength workshops for runners, why? Because these help build strength within your body but not only that, done right, with a targeted approach to strength training you can tie together the chains of muscles that can then be relied upon to deliver increases in performance, give you a stability you’ve never experienced before and allow you to increase mileage safely.
  3. Be prepared. In fact there are a couple of parts to this. The first is to ensure you are following a thorough and effective warm up routine – if you haven’t yet read my ebook The Runners Guide to Injury Free Running, then do please download a free copy from my website www.focusedperformance.co.uk the second is to prepare with a good stretching routine that targets the appropriate muscles and aids their recovery.
Click here for more advice on staying injury free

So once you’ve made sure that your running week includes all of the above, and that you’re not already suffering with an injury what next?

First – stay injury free by keeping your increases to around 10%. There are many different opinions about why you can increase more, or why you should arrange mileage differently, but my approach is one of carefully listening. What is your body telling you, is the increase feeling ok? If so continue the next week, if not reduce or add a rest day.

Second – only increase for 3 weeks on the run. Every 4th week should see a reduction in your mileage and intensity. This is so important, no matter the distance of race you might be training for, ease back every fourth week. It allows extra recovery to take place and ensures you peak ready for a super performance on race day. It also helps lower injury risk, another really important reminder that we should aim to focus on incremental gains, rather than an all out, or big bang approach.

Third- try using a training log or app to record the details of your runs, note down anything and everything that you feel is important to your running progress.

  • How does this run feel?
  • What was my increase in distance?
  • What was last weeks distance?
  • Did that work ok?
  • What was the weather like?
  • Did a particular type of weather slow you down, or did you see a speed improvement?
  • Did you run on your own or with anyone else? How did you feel that affected your performance?
  • What trainers did you use?
  • Etc…

You can see from all of the above that there’s a lot to take into account when thinking about increasing your mileage.

Take things carefully, monitor your progress and most of all, keep your runs fun!