In training, it can be hard to resist comparing yourself to others—and taking on more than you’re ready for as a result. When I was training for my fourth marathon, coming off a string of injuries, I tried to ramp up the miles and go from my normal peak week in the low 40s all the way up to 60, thinking it would guarantee me a PR. I was lucky that I didn’t end up injured again, but I did show up at the starting line overtrained and burned out. Predictably, I didn’t set a new personal best. In fact, I finished almost an hour slower than what I was aiming for. Here are three tips for figuring out your sweet spot when it comes to building up your mileage in training.
Don’t pile on too much too soon
Adding miles too quickly is a common mistake runners often make. I’m not about to preach that high mileage is a recipe for disaster for everybody—obviously, that’s not the case, and for many people, it does lead to the gains they’re seeking. What is key to remember is that running is a relative sport and what works for one person may not necessarily work for everyone else.
It’s possible you may do better with less total mileage
Since that race and a few other disastrous ones that followed, I’ve learned that I personally perform better on more moderate mileage. In my off-season, I cap my weekly mileage at 30-35 miles, and I’ve run my best marathons peaking at 45-50 miles in my highest week. I ran my 1:39 half marathon PR in the middle of a marathon training cycle when I hadn’t yet gone over 40 miles a week.
When in doubt, seek help
Figuring out where you ideally fall on the mileage spectrum can be tricky—you certainly don’t want to learn what doesn’t work the hard way via injuries and burnout, as I did. No matter what, you’ll want to build up slowly (increasing by no more than 10% of your total weekly mileage is always a good rule of thumb), but if you’re a newer runner, it wouldn’t hurt to seek guidance from a professional coach when it comes to creating a plan.
Remember, you are unique! The personalized training plans available in the ASICS Runkeeper app utilize methodology were developed by the researchers at the ASICS Institute of Sports Science. Each training plan is developed using an algorithm built from the training results of thousands of runners. Your specific goal time, race distance, and race date are taken into consideration to design a personal training schedule that will help you stay healthy and reach your goals. They are designed to meet you at your fitness level in the present moment—believe that with time and consistency, you’ll get to where you want to be. Read more: Race Training Plans: Designed for You, Powered by ASICS