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The 10 Percent Rule: Fact Or Fiction?

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Oct. 30, 2013
  • Updated Nov. 2, 2013 at 8:10 PM UTC
One study has debunked the 10 percent rule that runners often follow while training for a race. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

We all love the strict and explicit “rules” of training, but sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Pick up any book on running and you’ll probably find a reference to the sacred 10 percent rule. In case you haven’t heard, the 10 percent rule states that to stay injury-free in training, never increase your mileage by more than 10 percent in any given week.

Certainly, increasing your overall mileage by only a few miles per week seems like it should be a foolproof plan to injury-free running. However, while I am in full support of cautiously increasing your training load, assigning an arbitrary number to how much you can or should increase your training each week is a bit disingenuous.

I wish I could tell you where the evidence or initial support for the 10 percent “rule” began. Perhaps it stems from our affinity for catchy headlines and snappy, simplistic advice. Regardless of how or why the 10 percent principle became so popular, it’s time to expose the myth and structure your training around more individualized advice.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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