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The 10 Percent Rule: Do's and Don'ts Before Your Run

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Being a consistent runner, the 10 percent rule might have occurred to you many times. While some of you have brushed it aside to keep on running the way you want, there are also those who have cracked their mind hard about what this rule actually is. In this article, we are just trying to help you out regarding this commonly-discussed topic in running. Before coming to any conclusion, you should know what this rule is, how it works and the problems you may face. Here we will discuss how to increase running distance for beginners with the simple tactics of 10 percent rule exercise. So let’s get started. 

Table of Content

  • What is 10 Percent Rule
  • 10 Percent Rule - Check the Effectiveness
  • Smarter Mileage Rules 
  • Safety: The First Rule in Running
  • 10 Percent Rule: Fact or Fiction
  • Strategies to Keep Running Injuries at Bay
  • Summing Up

What is 10 Percent Rule?

There are various myths known about the 10 percent rule. The Sports journals often mention this rule with some hip headlines and catchy words. Regardless of these, the biology of 10 percent rule clearly states that you should not increase running mileage more than 10 percent per week. This is the simple way to keep yourself out of injuries.  

Run more with 10 percent rule  

It is very natural for a newbie to push harder to cover more distance while running. Obviously, they think that by straining your body more, they might just build more stamina or lose weight quickly.

Well, you are wrong!

Such rigorous training can injure you, both externally and internally. Too much effort in little time is never fruitful. You just have to make your body ready before leaping onto the strenuous exercises. The simple rule is to run steadily, improve gradually. After all your body needs to adapt to the 10 percent rule exercise. 

Suppose presently you run 10 miles a week. So by the end of the next week if you want to run 20 miles, soon your body will get sore and in no time you will complain about it. But according to the rule, you will increase your mileage by 10 percent in the next week i.e. in the second week you will cover 11 miles.

This little increase in mileage may look minimal to your statistics, but if you keep on running with this 10 percent consistency, by the end of the 10th week, you will be able to cover 23.7miles. Now, does that still look minimal to you? 10 percent rule statistics is easy to maintain. But at the same time, you should also listen to what your body says.  

10 percent rule
Increase your mileage gradually

10 Percent Rule - Check the Effectiveness

While it seems an easy way to increase extra miles with the controlled program of the 10 percent rule, if we look closely into the matter, we find the idea generalized. The rule does not seem scientifically full-proof. 

To check the effectiveness in providing an injury-free running session, a group of researchers in 2007 did a little experiment. They selected 532 novice runners and divided them into two groups further. One group went on with the 10 percent rule exercise and the other group kept their rigorous schedule. Surprisingly both the groups had the same injury rate after the sessions! Again they repeated the program with 4-week pre-conditioning. But the result was same again. 

Now, the question arises, how to reduce the injury rates?  

Well, we asked some experienced runners. And according to them all you need is an “up-down” schedule rather than strict linear increase. It depends on your body, how much you can bear. While some runners take a 3 week “up” followed by 1 week down, some might need the “down” period in more intervals. Throughout the “down” period your body gets ample relaxation to build up your mileage back to the number of the 1st week. For example, this may look like 10-11-12-10-11-12 until you are adapted and gain maximum mileage.

Now, increasing running mileage is not the only thing to worry about. There are other elements to keep track of, namely intensity, frequency, weather etc. All these ensure how you can progress your training. Suppose when you are running in the autumn season, you can increase your mileage up to 30-40 percent as your body is relaxed and the surface is favourable. But running in the rainy season, the surface is dangerously slippery, hence hindering your training. So keep in mind all the stimuli factors before you push yourself.

running in the rain-10 percent rule
Don't push your limits to injuries

Smarter Mileage Rules 

Don’t follow the 10 percent rule exercise if you are a beginner. All you need to do is to run consistently and adapt your body to running exercise. There is no need of increasing running distance for beginners. You can run more when you get comfortable. 

  1. Considering your ‘mileage sweet spot’ can be a little challenging to you. You should never stick to this particular volume you are comfortable in. You should always keep pushing yourself to increase. But trying to increase haphazardly might cause serious injury. So be steady in increasing your volume, don’t stick to it. 
  2. Never engage yourself into 10 percent rule after a break. If you are starting from scratch, then start to increase steadily according to your endurance level. But if your break period is more than 2 weeks, then be extra careful with 10 percent rule statistics. You should start from a comfortable level or let’s say, your sweet spot. And then increase your mileage by 10-12 percent every two to three weeks. 
  3. When you have increased your running mileage more than ever so far, you are in an uncharted territory. And as they say, you should be extra cautious while treading this zone. As you have run a lot, your body needs a sufficient adjustment period to settle down. Always keep your mileage same for at least 2-3 weeks before you start running higher mileage. 
  4. A high mileage is nothing if you are not consistent.  Forget days or weeks, your body needs months or even years to gain the extra mileage. Patience is the key of 10 percent rule biology. Always listen to your body, consider your comfort zone, and never make stupid mistakes.
mileage rules-listen to your body
Listen to your body

Safety: The First Rule in Running

Don’t follow the 10 percent rule examples blindly. It's a strict no-no if you are a beginner. The 10 percent rule is not applicable in many situations and dare we say, many runners.

  • Don't increase your mileage every week when you have just started running.
  • Keep your consistency for at least 3-4 weeks before considering the 10 percent rule exercises.
  • Simple it may sound, but your sports shoes are most important in running. You should keep an alternative pair of shoes.
  • Never ignore your sore feet, knees or muscles. You may use a foam roller to ease your legs. In case of a sprain, do consult a doctor.
  • Never run extra miles with cramped muscles. That will cause more harm.
  • Your body needs rest, over-exertion is dangerous. That might even stop you altogether from running. So act cautiously.
  • A drastic increase in mileage never helps. Rather you should be consistent and prepare yourself for long-term development.
safety during 10 percent rule
Safety is Pivotal

10 Percent Rule: Fact or Fiction

There are various factors that stop the 10 percent rule exercise being unsuccessful. You have workloads, physical problems, problematic weather and so on. Your workload makes you tired, physical problems stop you from keeping up with the consistency and the bad weather does not let you carry on your daily training.

- Exceeding the 10 percent rule

According to professional runners, if you have gained sufficient stamina and energy level to push yourself ahead of the strict 10 percent rule, then it’s ok to exceed. After all, the rule is meant to be broken and this is not a full-proof rule. It is a fact that after a few months you acquire enough mileage to increase up to 30-40 percent. And if you have maintained your consistency without any injury then it’s a win-win situation for you. When you are in your weekly baseline mileage range, you know that you don’t need the 10 percent rule statistics anymore.

- Decreasing your mileage less than 10 percent

If you are comfortable in running 20-30 miles per week, you should be careful now. After 20 miles range, you are in uncharted territory. You have to follow the 10 percent rule exercise strictly now. It is the conservative way to prevent injury. It is best to play safe when you have higher mileage than usual. After all, over-confidence can prove to be fatal. Being over-trained, over-fatigued will stop you from running. You surely don’t want that after acquiring such great mileage. 

Strategies to Keep Running Injuries at Bay

Even though there are tons of methods to keep running injuries at bay, these are some of the powerful strategies, that will help you keep running injuries at bay:

Adaptation Week

Adaptation week consists of a week of training that is to be repeated again. Keeping on the same workouts allow your body to be strong and resistant. You cannot strictly adhere to 10 percent rule as your body cannot adapt so quickly. The adaptation period helps you run your mileage without being injured.

Recovery Week

Recovery week is a short period in which you have “down weeks” to gain composure. In these weeks you run lesser miles and do fewer workouts to relax your body. The lesser you run, the faster you recover. Thus, indulge in activities that will help you recover faster. And once you come back on the tracks, make sure to start gradually. Don't rush into the 10-percent rule, take it slow!

10 percent rule
Run passionately

To make the 10 Percent Rule work, you never have to be aggressive with your body. Being aggressive will only prove fatal. After all, you are running those extra miles only to keep your body healthy. If the body is affected, then 10 percent rule exercise is of no worth. In the cost of hurting your muscles, never try to gain extra miles. 10 percent rule is only to keep to consistent. To be a good runner, you have to push yourself a little. Follow the rule, never go too far. 

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