Non-medically approved approach to running, part II

Categories: running   training   Uncategorized

In the last segment, I gave a brief run down of my running history and how I approach my training. Great, you say...maybe there was some useful advice in there, maybe not.

Now, lets take a look at the typical advice we see:
Don't increase your mileage by more than 10% per week.

I've always taken this to mean that the length of a specific run should never increase more than 10% of your previous long run, and you shouldn't do this increase more than once a week.
So, if my current long run is 10 miles, next week I can do a long run of 11 miles. The week after that, 12.1 miles.

Looking around on the web, I must admit, I think I've been interpreting this wrong for years. :O

Seeing an article on Best Running Tips, and on About.com, I see than in reality, they are saying don't increase your total mileage for the week more than 10% at a time. Hence, if I'm running 20 miles a week, next week I should be able to safely run 22 miles. Okay, this seems a bit reasonable, but still, it should be taken with a grain of salt and a person should use their own perceived effort as a guide.

However, the About article led me to another path. There was a study done in the Netherlands to determine whether the 10% rule was valid, and it showed that it wasn't. The original article is here, but I couldn't get to it through my research library. You can read the summary I saw here. (I'll keep looking for a copy of this.)

One article I was able to get to was "A prospective study of running injuries: the Vancouver Sun Run "In Training" clinics, from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. (1) Now this didn't address the 10% rule exactly, it was looking for injury rates in a training program preparing for a 10K. However, it did have a couple key things in it:
- Age is a key as you get older
- Older shoes may make you more at risk for injury
- BMI plays a role in preventing injury.
- And, what I found interesting:

We found that incorporating cross training into the In Training regimen did not influence the injury rate. However, it has been suggested that cross training can decrease the risk of injury in two ways18: (a) by correcting strength imbalances by conditioning key muscles not affected by running; (i) a non-weight bearing activity such as swimming or cycling can replace some of the weekly running mileage, eliminating some of the impact forces that contribute to injury.

Now, does this help my decide on how much to increase running on a regular basis? No, but it was interesting to read.

From scanning various other articles online, it looks like the collective wisdom is:
- Novice runners should increase their mileage slowly.
- Experienced runners may increase mileage more rapidly, assuming they have the experience to recognize what their bodies are saying to them.

Now, if you're here looking for advice, here is what I recommend at thi point.
For any "short" race, a marathon or less, if this is your first time running this distance, follow a plan. You may want to follow a plan the second time too. From there, you should be getting familiar with the training and can adopt as needed.

For "long" races, you should have plenty of experience with your body, and you should proceed as you feel fit.

Next time, hopefully I'll have more time to look into this, and have advice that may not be so generic.

References:
(1) A prospective study of running injuries: the Vancouver Sun Run "In Training" clinics
J E Taunton, M B Ryan, D B Clement, D C McKenzie, et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine. London: Jun 2003. Vol. 37, Iss. 3; pg. 239

Written on December 1, 2008