What Is The Optimal Number Of Miles Per Week?
Most runners assume that running more miles per week is always better. Rarely is the answer so simple. Yes, more miles will build your aerobic system faster and stronger, but if it comes at the expense of injury or overtraining, then it’s certainly not the best solution for you.
More specifically, there is no definitive mileage-to-performance correlation. Therefore, rather than thinking in terms of how many miles you can or should run, focus instead on finding the optimal number of miles you can run.
If you’ve been training consistently and without injury for a number of months, try adding a few miles per week and see how your body reacts. If you notice an increase in fatigue, workouts not going as well, or the onset of injuries, bring the mileage back down. If you feel just as healthy running more mileage, evaluate the impact it has on your race times and overall happiness. If you enjoy the extra mileage and your race performances respond favorably, try kicking it up another notch and repeat the process.
On the other hand, if you’re injury prone or struggling with overtraining and inconsistent results, reducing mileage may be the solution to running better. Healthy, continuous training beats a few weeks of high mileage followed by injury and burnout every time.
The point is, don’t add miles for the sake of adding miles. There is no magic number. Find what works optimally for you — healthy, happy and improving — and keep it there.
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Some General Guidelines To Follow
The longer the race you’re training for, the more mileage will you’ll generally need as a minimum. For a marathoner, the minimum is probably 25-30 miles per week and for a 5k, 10-15 miles per week.
All mileage is not created equal. Workouts such as tempo runs and track workouts will wear you down more than easy miles. Keep in mind what percentage of your miles are hard workouts and long runs versus easy miles.