How To Set Up Your Weekly Mileage For Smarter Running


By Jason Fitzgerald, Published Aug. 22, 2017, Updated 4 days ago

There’s always a lot of attention paid to a runner’s weekly mileage. And for good reason: your total mileage, or volume, is one of the best indicators of success in the sport of running.

Quite simply, the more you run, the more endurance you’ll have. With higher endurance, you’ll have the capacity to run harder and for longer.

We’ve already covered a more nuanced way of how to build your mileage (it’s not the 10% percent rule). Once you’ve planned your season and know your goals and races, the question becomes: how should that mileage be structured?

No matter if you run 20 or 50 miles per week, you’ll need to pattern those runs appropriately or risk a running injury or (best case scenario), stagnating progress.

The runners who are doubling their mileage in just a month or just running the same distance every week are training the hard way. They’ll never achieve as much as they could with a more strategic way of running their mileage.

First, let’s discuss some underlying principles that govern how weekly mileage should be broken down into daily totals.

Timeless Mileage Principles to Remember

These principles or “rules” dictate how the weekly mileage total is broken up into daily mileage numbers. So even if you’re an advanced runner covering 10 miles per day, these still apply. As well as those only running 10 miles per week!

1. Be sure to spread the work around.

The week is seven days long so your effort should be about even throughout the week. Many runners will front- or back-load their week with miles, resulting in a majority of miles being run in just a two or three-day period. For example, they might run 20 miles during the first three days of the week and only 10 miles over the last four days. This extreme swing of effort dramatically increases the injury risk!

2. Space the hardest days evenly apart.

If you run a long run and a faster session once each per week, it’s more effective to maintain 2-3 days of easy running between these challenging workouts.

Rather than spacing them just a day apart (for example, a workout on Thursday and a long run on Saturday—leaving four easy days until the next workout), it’s best to schedule them with about equal recovery. A Tuesday/Saturday schedule works great for a faster workout and a long run.

3. Be sure to maintain the pillar workouts in your training.

These pillar workouts are a faster workout, a long run, and a medium-long run. The medium-long run is simply the second longest day of the week and can also correspond with the faster workout. This helps keep your easy days easier and your hard days easier.

Now, let’s see how these principles look in real life.

RELATED: The Real Benefit Of Easy Days

Weekly Mileage Examples

Below are weekly mileage schedules that illustrate how a weekly total is broken down into individual days. Note that the only thing in these schedules is mileage for simplicity—there are no strength exercises, faster workouts, or cross-training.

20 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: 4 miles
  • Tuesday: REST
  • Wednesday: 5 miles
  • Thursday: 3 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 8 miles
  • Sunday: REST

 

30 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: REST
  • Tuesday: 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 7 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 10 miles
  • Sunday: 3 miles

 

40 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: REST
  • Tuesday: 6 miles
  • Wednesday: 10 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 14 miles
  • Sunday: 5 miles

 

50 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: 8 miles
  • Tuesday: 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 9 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 16 miles
  • Sunday: 7 miles

 

Of course, there are many ways to structure your mileage! This is not meant to be definitive, but is an example of sound planning that will reduce your injury risk and maximize your performances. Because with smarter training, runners usually deliver faster race times!

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