The Soggy Sock: Building Mileage

The Soggy Sock: Building Mileage Oct13th 2022
Written by Christina Schultz

Mileage is at the crux of any training program. Whatever training philosophy you ascribe to, there is some type of mileage or time build.

A necessary challenge- mileage builds are where we see the most running injuries but are key to some extent for everyone.

Even if you are not building to a marathon or ultra and need to be able to be at a performance pace for some extended period of time, we all need to increase our aerobic efficiency to round out our training.

Every race above 800m depends on >50% aerobic energy systems.

And the more efficiently we are working at levels that depend on Aerobic systems the better for 2 reasons:

  1. You can get further along in your race/workout before switching to energy systems that have more limited stores
  2. Reach a faster velocity at these “aerobic” levels

There are multiple ways you can manipulate your training to improve your aerobic efficiency which we will discuss later but building mileage is often the first step so we will discuss that strategy today since every run program involves it at some point.

Couch to 5k? You have to start to 0 and build up.

Finished a marathon? You (should) take several weeks of recovery and then ramp back up.

Always ran 5ks and now you want to dabble in the marathon? You have quite the build ahead!

For my marathoners out there, keep in mind that there are diminishing returns after a 3-hour run – typically we don’t see significant increased cardiovascular benefits, have a much harder time recovering for the next training session, and see a much higher risk of injury after this point as well.

So how do we do this safely?

There are a few rules of thumb:
  1. Don’t exceed a 10% increase in volume from the week before
  2. Have a variety of distances planned throught the week with a designated “long run day” which in most cases will be 20-40% of your weekly volume
  3. For every 3 “up” weeks of mileage, have a 4th “down” week to allow you body to recover and adapt.

It’s important to note that these rules have significant limitations:
  1. This only looks at your previous training week in order to determine how much more you can do each week but your body could still be feeling the effects of a hard training week that was further back
  2. This doesn’t take into account the intensity of the work you did only distance/time

That’s why I prefer to use ACWR with my athletes when I can and you can too however it will require a lot more math on your part. We’ll discuss just what that is and how to use it next issue!


For both those using ACWR and those who are not:

Ultimately your body has the final say. Even if the numbers say you should be able to do a workout, and you feel like something is off that day – Listen!

I always tell my athletes that the mark of a great athlete is the ability to listen to your body and respect what it’s telling you. This will set you apart from all of those around you–more in-tuned, peaking well, playing to your strengths, and with longevity.

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About the Author: Christina Schultz

Christina Schultz graduated with a degree in exercise science from Florida Atlantic University. She was a captain for the cross country and track teams at the University. She went on to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of St. Augustine. While at St. Augustine, she was a head high school cross country coach and distance track coach at a local high school. During this time she became a certified strength and conditioning specialist in order to enhance her abilities to treat athletes and improve their performance.

Christina moved from Jacksonville, FL to Greenville, SC with her dog Rosie to help keep our community active. She continues to run in her spare time and is enjoying exploring the city and hiking.

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