Many runners are overly cautious when increasing weekly distance, following the 10 percent rule as gospel!
But what if the 10 percent rule wasn’t a rule at all? And 10 percent of what anyway??
What is the 10 percent rule for running?
It’s said that the 10 percent rule will reduce the risk of injury and allow a safe build up of weekly volume.
Is the 10 percent rule flawed?
Firstly the 10% “rule” is a concept rather than a rule. It describes building up exponentially, which is super risky!
But if you’re running a long run of 20km this week, you’d increase to 39km by week 8. That’s workable for some but risky for others.
If you’re running 40km/week with a 20km long run, it looks even more implausible. If your other runs remain the same, 10% more volume each weeks ends with a long run of 58km after 8 weeks! Ummm….
How fast should you build up?
So you can build up faster if you’re fit and strong as you’ll be able to maintain good form.
If you’ve got a decent running history, you can build up faster as your technique should be well refined and quite efficient.
Even if that history isn’t current, you’ll pick up the same technique and movement skills quicker than someone who is running for the first time.
Can you take extra precautions to reduce the risk of injury?
Increasing weekly running volume is one of the riskiest periods for a runner.
Taking a day off between runs is good as a buffer. It allows the body time to recover but it will also reduce your effective weekly training days.
Also think about working in long blocks and adding an easier week every 3-5 weeks. It gives you a chance to spike your weekly loading in the week before the easier week, knowing you’ll recover soon afterwards.
The fastest way to build up weekly distance and long runs
Muscle strength is what will maintain your technique throughout a run.
Twice a week, go for your regular moderate to long distance run.
As soon as you finish, complete a short (20 minute) bodyweight or light weight strength session. Make it as running-specific as possible, but you can throw in some upper body as well.
Next run you can safely go for a longer run, increasing by the duration of the previous week’s strength training session. So two 20 minute strength sessions buys you 2 x 20 minutes more running, or 6-8km for most runners.
Based on a reply written for Reddit’s r/running forum by the author.