How much is too much?
Training is tough. The Virginia 10 Miler is one of the hardest road races in Virginia. Ramping up miles and increasing hills training is of vital importance when it comes to having a successful race. But, simply hammering out miles without the proper build up will lead to overtraining injuries which ultimately will lead to an unsuccessful race.
Since jogging first became popular there has been a deluge of running research and professional opinion with little reliable, high quality research. However, research exists which helps clinicians focus on specific training errors to help runners continue to train with less risk of injury. The 10% rule is a concept commonly utilized in training programs to safely progress running. The idea is that one progresses 1 variable (distance, time, runs per week, elevation, speed, intensity) at a time no more than 10% at a time. For example, if your longest run is 10 miles, the safest progression would be 1 mile at the same mile pace. This rule is very conservative and generally helps preventing running related injuries. Unfortunately, to build up a 10 mile base from 3 miles utilizing this protocol is very slow.
So, what’s the threshold? According to a 1 year study of almost 900 recreational runners those runners who increased distance more than 30% within a 2 week period were at increased risk of developing a lower extremity injury.
Now what to do about it? It is safe to say that to minimize risk of injury, one should not progress 1 training variable beyond 30% in 2 weeks. Individuals new to running may do well to stay close to the 10% rule, whereas more experienced runners may be able to cheat closer to 30%.
Mark Henry, DPT, PT, ATC
Lynchburg Physical Therapy