“How much should I run?”

I’d asked Brandon Lann, CEO of Race Roster if there was a rule of thumb for weekly mileage. For context I’d asked how much can you could ‘get by with’ if you were training for a 10k.  He paused “Around 70km a week…”.  My brain idly did the math, “So, that’s around 10k every day to prepare for a 10k race…?” Now to put his answer in context, Brandon completes a marathon in around 2 hours and 30 minutes, faster than many can finish half that distance; clearly Brandon isn’t the “getting by” kind of runner.

This got me thinking, “How much should I run? “. If I assume I’m not being chased, then my answer will be influenced by my running goals. My instincts tell me that running to lose weight or to get fit requires a different approach than running improve a time or compete in a particular event.

The case for running less: It’s tough to lose weight by exercising. If you don’t believe me the check out how people finishing a 10 or 20 km fun look. These guys may be ‘fit’ but I’ll bet you’ll find plenty who are carrying extra fat, especially around the belly. Exercise is an important component of health, but trying to exercise off ‘weight’ is very hard work and is rarely sustainable.

There is also an unfortunate coloration between the more you run and the likelihood of picking up an injury. Running is a repetitive action and doing it for a long time risks some sort of injury, especially if you’ve been sedentary. Professional runners ward off by injuries with strengthening excises, flexibility work and technique. Cold baths may be a brilliant aid to recovery but they only happen for me when I can wade into a lake after a run. I suspect that for most of us, an hour, spent three to four times a week doing some easy running is adequate.

The case to run more: It would seem pretty obvious that the more you run, the better you do. Naturally, some of us do harbour an ambition for excellence. effects-of-mileage

For those I found this graph of marathon times compiled by RunKeeper, which illustrates how increasing weekly distances increases running speed. Interesting as this may be, the majority of us aren’t training to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

 

 

completion-time

It seems that logging more weekly km will make you run faster over distance.  So, if you’re planning on running a distance event, the further you can run each week while staying healthy, the better you stand to do.

Looking at the second table you could predict that running 44 miles or 70 km a week will put you around a 3 hours and 50 minute marathon time. This is a start. However, most of us aren’t planning on running a marathon, and those who do are often more concerned with finishing. Luckily for me I fond this great article by Ed Eyestone on the Runners World website. He’s used experience to suggest a range of distances that are sufficient for different event. Its split into two group, the “Mortals’ is geared towards those simply looking to finish while the ‘elite’ distances are for those looking to fulfill their potential.

I’m going to assume the distances for ‘mortals’ are around on three to four runs each week. That said, it may be possible to achieve the similar results with more frequent runs of shorter duration.

 Event 5K 10K Half Marathon ~21km Marathon

~42km

Elite Runner:   112-128

Km per week
128-160

Km per week
160-177

Km per week
160-225

Km per week
Recreational:    32-40

Km per week
40-50

Km per week
48-64

Km per week
48-80

Km per week

This chart is a good place to start. You may be able to do a 5km to 10 km run with only about 10-15km of weekly training, but you will likely suffer afterwards. Most runners agree that When increasing your weekly distances, to keep it at no than 10% to avoid injury.

There were no easy answers to my question. Athletes like Brandon have very different goals to us recreational runners. Emulating their weekly distances is daunting prospect. Ultimately, how much you decide to run is a personal choice. Consider what your body can take, time available to run and wether you’re enjoying it.

Whatever that number is, I hope you stay healthy.

McG

 

 

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