The 10% Rule

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There will be many changes in the post COVID-19 world. I’m fairly certain that I won’t be hugging as freely as I once did, heck, I probably won’t be hand shaking either. Although I can’t wait to be toeing the line at the Chicago Marathon, the thought of body-to-body crowds makes me uneasy. However, one of the post-pandemic changes that I am excited about is the influx of new runners that have come to embrace the sport.

I have loved watching friends, colleagues, and acquaintances begin running. Most did it out of necessity, but now have found the beauty of pounding the pavement, or tread. Almost all running journeys begin the same way…with 1/4 mile of running followed by an intense feeling of repulsion toward the sport. And then week after you week, you keep doing it. Keep adding a bit more, going longer, running with intervals. And all of a sudden, you’ve mastered 1 mile, then 2, then 3.

Many pandemic runners are now tackling longer mileage and setting goals of a 10K, half, full, or ultra. As we increase mileage and intensity in training, it’s important to remember the 10% rule. To avoid injury and train smarter, runners should only increase their mileage by 10% each week. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule, every runner is different, but for the majority of athletes, this is a good standard to go by. So if you’re running 1 mile a week, you’d increase to 1.1 the following week. If you’re regularly able to run 10 miles, make it 11 the next week.

The beauty of the 10% rule is that, like the running journey itself, you get stronger and are able to sustain longer distances without realizing you’re doing it. The other beauty of this rule is that you will be much less likely to deal with an annoying injury that could sideline you for weeks.

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