In order to be a better runner The most important thing you must do is RUN!
There are many philosophies out there about how much, how far and how fast you should run in order to improve. Everyone is so different and has different ability levels. Some people will respond better to mileage build while some will respond better to incorporating speed workouts.
Many times people want to get right into training and jump their mileage up thinking that is the way to improve. This can lead to setbacks that can compromise your training in the long run. If you are unable to run for several weeks you will be further behind where you could have been given smart progression.
Progression is key
One variable at a time- Your body will need time to adapt and you must allow it to recover. When changing a variable in your training it is important to only change one variable at a time. Do not increase mileage, run faster on easy runs and run harder workouts. These are all variables that should be considered independently in order to improve.
The ‘10% rule’– Many times people discuss the 10% rule. People get the idea that it is okay to increase the mileage by up to 10% each week. This is not the intend of that method. The intend is to say do not increase by more than 10%. Any actual increase in mileage should be within the plan and have a point. All training should allow for a cut back week or ‘down week’ every 3-5 weeks to allow the body to recover from the increases.
Consistency is key- If you have been consistent at 15 miles per week and have been having good workouts it would be a good idea to add a few miles per week. Then you will be taking your training to a new level and your body will have to adapt to that level of training before you can take the next step. Like climbing the stairs. You could skip a step or two. But if may be unwise. And if you skip more than that you are setting yourself up to crash and burn.
If you are a new runner consistency should be your main goal. Start running a few days a week for a few miles a day. After you have mastered that you can add a mile. Keep building slowly.
Don’t Rush the Process– Many times runners sign up for a marathon and read that they should be running 20 mile long runs. Your long run should be no more than 30% of your weekly mileage. It takes time to build your mileage to that level. If you do too much too fast it could set you back physically and mentally if you are unable to finish.
Finding a sweet spot– If you are an experienced runner you should evaluate your training over the course of several years. Look carefully at when you ran successfully. If you had injuries were you running more mileage at that time? Evaluating several years of training can help you to identify the amount of mileage that you are successful running.
Everyone has their sweet spot for mileage. If you run less you will not maximize your training ability and if you run more you are likely to set yourself up for injury or under performance. It is important to find what works for each individual in order to find optimal training. Many very successful runners need to run lower mileage to stay healthy. When training your ultimate goals should be to stay healthy and make it to the finish line fit and ready to perform your best!