A common fitness goal for many people is to run more often. However, a majority of gym overuse injuries result from running itself. The main reason for this is because people do not understand how to properly increase mileage in a safe manner. Here are four tips for how to safely increase running mileage.

Start on the Treadmills

Treadmills are hated for how boring they can become. Five minutes on a treadmill can feel like fifteen minutes outside. If you can get through the boredom you will find the benefit outweighs the monotony. The amazing benefit of the treadmill is that it has built in shock absorbers. Every step that you take on the treadmill is absorbed by the machine, taking the pounding off joints that would otherwise occur on pavement. When you are running your body is absorbing 2.5 times its body weight with every step! (RunScribe, 2014)  People become injured because their body is not conditioned to handle the large forces that running creates. When running on the treadmill this impact is cushioned and reduces the shear forces on the body. Once you are used to running on the treadmill for a couple weeks it is then appropriate to transition to outdoor miles on the pavement. 

Start Small

The human body is an amazing specimen, I cannot overstate that enough! When an appropriate load is placed on the body and sufficient rest is allotted, the body gets better. I have many new clients that are gung-ho with their new goals and end up doing more work than their body is capable of. Start small if you have been inactive for many months. Try to run one mile on the treadmill without stopping and then come back the next day and see how you feel. If you are incredibly sore the next day it would be wise to do something more low impact such as biking. If you are feeling good see if you can run two miles. My recommendation for anyone starting from nothing is to run five miles in one week. This would be done by running one mile five days a week, then take the weekend off.

The 10% Rule

If you are someone who is starting at a higher mileage and you wish to increase it, there is a traditional ‘rule of ten percent’. This means that if you are increasing your weekly mileage each week, you should not exceed more than ten percent of the mileage from the previous week. For example if you ran ten total miles last week then your mileage should be eleven total the next week. This is a conservative rule for beginners to allow your body to recover from the stresses you are forcing onto it.  

Buy Good Shoes

Investing a solid pair of running shoes is never a bad idea. Many running related injuries originate from old and worn shoes. There are local running stores that specialize in fitting your foot to the proper shoe, based on the way you step. The shoes will range between $90 to $150 which may seem expensive to people for a pair of shoes. You must remember that health is an investment and not an expense. If you are only running ten miles every week on the pair of shoes, they should last you at least two years and maybe more.

If you are still curious on how to increase your running mileage or how to structure a running workout contact me at my email: [email protected]  Happy Running!

Warren Bartlett. NSCA CSCS.

Personal trainer at Fit Focus Laconia