March Running Goals + Why the 10% “Rule” is Toilet Paper

One of the things we’ve got lined up for this summer is the Sandhills Half Marathon. I have a 10 week Half Marathon training plan that I’ve modified for myself and used for all three of my previous halves, and it’s been perfect for getting into race shape. However, it’s nearly impossible for me to use the 10 week plan effectively if I don’t build up a decent running base well in advance of starting the 10 weeks. I tried basically starting from scratch the first time I signed up for a half, and probably only trained for 12 weeks total. While I did run a decent race and was happy with my finish, I literally had trouble walking for a couple of days after. So for the past couple of years, I have worked on getting into a training habit much earlier once I have a race in mind. (While it is always my intent to keep running after the big race, I have failed miserably every year and end up taking at least a few months off). So I’m usually starting over. Maybe THIS year will be my year?

Now that we’ve been running fairly consistently for two months, I think it’s time to set some goals. First, here’s a recap of my progress so far:

9 runs total
26.6 miles
Longest Distance: 4 miles
0 speed workouts
0 races
Average training pace range: 12:13 to 8:48/mi

9 runs total
37.9 miles (42% increase over last month)
Longest Distance: 4.9 miles
2 speed workouts
1 race – Sweetheart 4 Mile – 33:32, 8:05/mi avg pace
Average training pace range: 10:18 to 9:05/mi

And some goals for March:

  • Get 11 runs in – so far we’ve only made it to the gym twice a week. I’d like to get up to three visits a week, at least a couple of times next month.
  • Run a speed workout, once a week – For speed, I will typically do either a tempo run, or intervals of some sort. More on specific workouts later.
  • Log a 7 mile long run – Keeping my fingers crossed for a nice weather Saturday. Despite the 60 degree days we had in January, and a lucky Valentines day, it turns out it’s still winter. It’s been snowing. And windy. And terrible. Which doesn’t help me when it comes to running 7 miles. Long runs on a treadmill are no fun. Nope.
  • Beat my time from last year at the Sharin’ o’ the Green 5k. Last year I finished in 24:43, a 7:58/mi average pace.
  • Run 45 miles total

And real quick – you may be thinking that I’m breaking the 10% rule. You know, the “standard” runner’s rule that says you shouldn’t increase your mileage more than 10% a week. But let’s get a few things straight:

One, this rule doesn’t really specify a starting point. It’s hard to follow when you are starting from zero miles, and only running 2-3 times per week. Think about it: if I made it to the gym twice this week and ran 4 miles both times, the 10% rule would tell me that I can only run 8.8 miles total next week. Just because I’ve been too lazy to get my butt to the gym 3 times this week, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t physically run 3 days next week.

Two, I’ve been running (although not always consistently and year-round) for about 15 years. I’ve also been through 3 stress fractures, which put the kibosh on my Division 1 College running career. Running at the college level requires you to run 5 to 7 days a week, and 35 to 50 miles per week. That didn’t work for my body. Yes, I believe that too much mileage was definitely the cause of my injuries. Yes, I think that adding too much mileage too fast is a bad idea. But here’s the thing. I don’t think that there’s a universal rule for how much running your body can handle. I’ve learned my limits, and that is why I now only run 3 days a week at most. To look at it another way, my monthly total mileage right now is what some avid runners do in a week. So my percentages will easily jump 20 to 30% at times, but that can be the difference of a single run or a few miles.

and Three, because I’m not a scientist or a doctor of sports medicine, here‘s a good article that quotes some people who are.



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