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Increase Your Running Volume Without Increasing Mileage

As runners, we love to run high mileage weeks, especially when gearing up for a long distance race. However, not every runner’s body can handle the stress of running as many miles as they feel they need to, and running more than what your body can handle is a recipe for injury.

You can use this training method during periods where you don’t necessarily need to be (or want to be) outside on the roads. The offseason and cold winter months are the perfect time to apply these techniques.

What It Means To Increase Volume

Volume (as it applies to running) means the amount of total running mileage you complete in a week. The basic rule of thumb has always been to increase by no more than 10 percent each week to avoid injury. That rule has been challenged by many, most loudly by Hansons Running, but others have also eluded that this hard and fast rule can be (and should be) challenged and tweaked for each individual.

How It Works For An Elite Athlete

USATF Mountain Running World Champion Kim Nedeau attributes her health and success in mountain running to “…spending as much time on my bike as I do running!” That’s right. She is a world champion, bronze medalist mountain runner, and spends 50 percent of her time on a bike.

After suffering a labral hip tear while racing in college for Brown, several years later Nedeau and her coach had to figure out a way for her to train on low mileage and still compete at the highest level in her sport. Since her weakened hip would not tolerate more than 30-35 running miles a week, she rides 100 miles on the bike trainer and throws in “…a little bit of strength training everyday,” adding that “all the ‘extra’ work can translate into running fitness.” Indeed.

How It Can Work for You

The key to increasing your volume without taking to the road is intensity! You want to get your heart rate up and keep it there. One of the best workouts for intensity is the interval session. Try this one at home or the gym, in lieu of 1-2 of your usual runs:

  • Choose any piece of cardio equipment to do your warm-up and slowly increase your speed over 10-15 minutes
  • Run, step, row or walk at a high intensity for 7 minutes on your cardio machine of choice (Heart rate zone 3-4)
  • Jump off the cardio machine and do 3 rounds of 10 jump squats
  • Run, step, row or walk at a high intensity for 7 minutes
  • Jump off the cardio machine and do 3 rounds of 5-10 burpees
  • Run, step, row or walk at a high intensity for 7 minutes
  • Jump off the cardio machine and do 3 rounds of 10 lunges or jumping lunges
  • Cool down on the cardio machine and stretch

You have just completed up to 40 minutes of intense heart rate training and didn’t even have to go outside. Congratulations, you just upped your running game!

Allie Burdick

Allie Burdick

Allie is a freelance writer, athlete and mom, but not in that order. Her work has appeared in Runner's World, Triathlon Magazine and ESPNW. On her blog, VITA Train for Life, she chronicles her life as a runner/triathlete and hopes her successes and failures help to motivate and inspire others, even the over-40 crowd she somehow found herself in! The rest of her time is spent raising her twin boys with her husband in the Northeast where they live a big life! See it all on Twitter and Instagram.