How to Increase Your Weekly Running Mileage Safely

Girl runner runs along the road in summer. Jogging in the morning. Active lifestyle.

Looking to reach your full running potential? Then increasing your weekly running mileage must be on top of your to-do list.

Your weekly running mileage is one of the most important aspects of your exercise routine to track over time.

After all, to reach your full running potential, you’ll have to spend more time on your feet. Practices makes perfect and all that.

But how do you actually build mileage safely over time? That’s where today’s post comes in handy.

This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to start running and build up your running mileage with confidence so you can make improve your performance without risking injury or burnout.

Are you excited?

Here we go…

What’s Baseline Mileage?

First things first, let’s get some definitions out of the way.

Baseline mileage refers to the volume of mileage you can comfortably log in, week in and week out. It’s the baseline of whatever training load that you’re comfortable with before you get sore, fatigued, or mentally burned out.

Every runner has a specific volume of miles that’s relatively easy to log in per week. It shouldn’t feel too hard—nor too easy—to run this amount week after week.

To figure it out, look over the last three to six months of training and decide the number of weekly miles that you feel comfortable with.

It should feel neither too hard nor too easy.

Now let’s actually look at how to build mileage—starting from zero experience, extending to whatever running goals you’re might aiming for.

For building weekly mileage, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind. Some of the include:

  • Beginners should aim first to feel comfortable relatively short distance before trying to increase mileage
  • More isn’t always better, and too much of it can prove problematic
  • Mileage increases should be slow, gradual, and cyclical to allow for recovery and adaptation.
  • The 10 percent rule is a good rule to follow but doesn’t apply to every situation.

Let me unpack these in the rest of the article.

The Golden Principle – Start Small

I see many make the mistake of starting too hard, too fast or going for too long, then they simply get injured and discouraged within a few days.

Instead, take it easy for the first months and build from there.

Begin With Long Walks

Haven’t exercised much in the last few years? Then walking should be your first—and sometimes, the only–option. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend running for anyone until they can walk for 50 to 60 minutes at a brisk pace without much trouble.

So, take your time and don’t try to run when walking is what you should be doing.

As your training progresses forward, as we’re going to see shortly, extend the length of time spent jogging and reduce the amount of time spent walking until you can jog for 30 minutes at an easy pace.

Fit Caucasian smiling blonde woman jogging early in the morning. Around arm phone case and in ears earphones.

Going Beyond The Walk/Run Method

Already have a set mileage?

Then follow the 10 percent rule. Figure out what 10 percent of your weekly mileage is, then increase your weekly miles by no more than that amount. Easy peasy.

For example, if you typically log in 12 miles per week, increase by no more than 1 to 1.5 miles the next week, and so forth until you reach your weekly goal mileage.

Feels too easy? Don’t rush; let your body adapt to the new training load.

Have A Recovery Week

Another measure to help you build weekly mileage safely and comfortably is to give your body a recovery week.

The same training rule that states that you should exercise hard every day, you shouldn’t try to increase your mileage every week.

This is how you put it into practice.

Increase your mileage for three to four weeks, then on the next week, take it down a notch by shooting for a lower volume and more easier sessions.

As a rule, shoot for a 20 to 30 percent decrease in mileage during a recovery week, depending on your experience, training intensity, and your history of running injuries.

When you periodically and intentionally lower the load during your training cycle, you grant your body an opportunity to recover and adapt.

Watch Your Form

Like any other exercise, technique also matters when it comes to running. When you increase your mileage, you should also pay attention to your technique. What’s your running style? Hunched over? Upright? Relaxed? Tensed up? Striking the ground with heel or forefoot first? Etc.

Although there’s no universal consensus on what proper running form should be like, there are a few universals that seem to work for most runners. These include:

  • Keep your head held up high, chin parallel to the ground, eyes gazing ahead.
  • Swing your arms back and forth, with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Relax your shoulders by rolling.
  • Keep your core engaged by pulling your navel towards your spine.
  • Do your best to limit lateral movement at your hips and shoulders. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting lots of energy.

Listen To Your Body

Even though today’s article is meant to get you to amp up the miles, the risk is still there. In fact, even if you do everything right, some pains and injuries are bound to creep up. You just need to catch them before they get any worse.

While injuries and burnouts are less likely to strike if you increase your weekly mileage gradually, if you feel more than one of the following symptoms for a few days in a row, you should scale back.

  • Increased heart rate
  • Chronic  pains
  • Chronic soreness
  • Insomnia or trouble falling asleep
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Fatigue and subpar performance

These red flags indicate that you’re pushing your body more than you should. When you do so, rest is the way to go. Or else, you’re risking an injury or overtraining—and you don’t want that.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to build your weekly mileage as a beginner, today’s post should be enough to get you heading in the right direction. But, it’s by no means the complete guide to weekly mileage.

So please feel free to check out some of my other articles, or simply send me an email at david@runnersblueprint.com to start a conversation.

In the meantime, please feel free to leave your suggestions and tips in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.