Follow these rules to figure out how many miles you can safely aim to get in.
Whether you are preparing for a 5k, 10k or a marathon, proper training is important. Many runners mistakenly think more mileage is better overall. Instead, there is a catch. More mileage is better but only up to the point where you can achieve your potential. Once you reach that point, if you exceed it you are only increasing your injury risk. Below are some rules to keep in mind when determining your mileage range.
Mileage Requirements Increase In Correspondence to Performance Goals
If your aim is to merely reach the finish line of a race, you can run fewer miles when training. But if you aim to finish a race with the fastest time possible, your mileage requirement will increase.
Allow Your Body to Adapt
When you plan to up your mileage, take it slow in order to allow your body the necessary time to adapt to the increase in workload. It is generally considered safe to add a mile to each run you do per week as long as you run at least two weeks at that level before adding more. If you run three times a week, you can then up your weekly mileage by three miles. If you typically run five times a week, up your mileage by 5 miles. Then stick with that increased level for another week (two weeks total) before advancing another 3 or 5 miles.
Some Miles Count More
Depending on how you are working out, some of your weekly miles can count as more than others. Workouts that include tough track workouts, short repeats and/or tempo runs are harder to recover from than the same amount of time spent doing easier aerobic running. When you do harder workouts, decrease the total mileage a little to make up for the added stress on your body to keep yourself from doing too much and risking injury.
Additionally, the farther away your pace is when running at race pace, the less your miles will help when it comes to racing performance. The principle here is that you become good at what you do during practice. If you tend to run slower when training at longer distances but your race is a short distance, fast-paced trek, chances are you are not going to do as well during the race. On the other hand, if you are sprinting short distance runs when preparing for a 10-15 mile cross country race, your training will do little for you. Try to train in a way that will help you achieve your overall race goals. If you plan to participate in a 50-mile race, go on five or six our slow runs. If you want to smoke a fast 5k, train accordingly. This will help you achieve your overall goal.
Remember that high mileage totals do not do you any good if you end up injured and have to sit on the sideline during a race.