When you’re just starting out, it may seem hard to believe, but you might get hooked on running! I remember when I first started running, I felt more in-touch with my body, more energized, more confident. And powerful. Plus, you’re flooded with endorphins during and after every workout. In fact, in his book, vegan ultra-runner, Scott Jurek talks about how a number of ex-addicts venture into ultra-running.
The euphoria you get while pounding the pavement is not only real, it’s as good as the high you get from a drug, according to studies.
In fact, there’s a drug rehab center in Europe that has a marathon training team. What a wonderful idea! “Running has become a metaphor in my life, says Pantaleewa. ”You fight against your demons and don’t give up.”
There’s something special, sometimes addictive about running. Sometimes it hurts so good and sometimes it provides us with an escape. Whatever the reason, it can be hard to build up your mileage slowly. So how much volume is too much?
Increasing volume too much too fast increases risk of injury. Think about it. Running is a series of jumps or falls forward, and you’re catching yourself on one leg 180x per minute. The force with which your foot meets the ground is several times your body weight. Our bodies are amazing, but they take time to adjust to a rigorous running regimen. So skip the injuries, burnout & frustration – build slowly.
The golden rule that almost everyone dispenses is not to increase your mileage by more than 10% per week. That’s all well and good, but what if you’re starting from zero? zero times 10% is still zero. Forget the 10% rule. Truth is, I don’t love that rule. It oversimplifies things. Here’s a better way to think about it:
- Run consistently: The key is to run consistently, at least every other day. You can start as small (low mileage) as you need to, based on feel. I wouldn’t exceed 3-4 miles per workout in the first week or two. What you can do safely is a function of what you have been doing, your body composition, age, what you ate, how much you slept, your stress level, and probably a whole host of other things that we can neither control for, nor account for so it might chance deepening on the day. Ultimately, do what feels good. Listen to your body. Be conservative.
- Add workouts one at a time, starting small: Let’s say you’re consistently running 3 miles 3x a week and you want to add a day so you’ll be running 4x a week, start by adding a short distance on the 4th day and build up. You might run 1 mile the first week, 2 miles the next week and 3 the following week.
- Add distance to existing workouts in small increments: Start by increasing mileage on one day. Because of the nature of our work lives – we work M-F and are off on the weekends – most people opt for a longer run on the weekends, but you certainly don’t have to. So let’s say you’re consistently running 3 miles 4 times a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. You have the most time for a longer run on Sundays so slowly begin extending that run by a mile or so each week. Pretty soon, you’ll be running 3 miles 3 times a week and 5 miles once a week for a total of 14 miles a week. Solid.
- Listen to your body if it says ‘stop’.
Run consistently, build up gradually (# of workouts and duration), listen to your body if it says “stop”. If you are going to change a workout (by lengthening it or increasing its intensity), that’s fine as long as you don’t change them all at once. This applies to effort level as well, which we’ll explore in more depth next week.
For now, focus on consistency. And if you’re long running this weekend, enjoy!