27 February 2022

Running Volume

Run Volume

Guest post by Max Roger

Understanding volume is key for your training, whether it’s in the gym or on the roads and trails. When we are talking about training, volume refers to the amount of work that you are doing. In the gym this is easy: it’s the sets and reps. A proper training programme will have this planned, with the volume being adjusted week by week so that your body can be challenged appropriately and adapt to the training stimulus that you’re putting it through.

Now let’s move to running. When you’re running the underlying principles behind training and your running volume are often ignored. Your body needs time to adapt to the stresses that it’s put under. When you run, as relaxing as a run can be, it’s putting your body through stress. There are various physiological things going on but I’m going to focus on the pressure that your bones, muscles and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) are put through.

“Follow these 2 rules to give your body the space it needs to recover and avoid injury”

Whether you go fast or go slow, each pace that you run puts a lot of pressure (let’s term it ‘loading’) through your foot. There’s a lot of small stuff in your foot too; 26 bones (that’s a quarter of the bones in your body), 33 joints and more than 80 ligaments and tendons. You can’t just finish a run and think that you’ll be ok to run again the next day. Over time your body will break down unless you allow it to recover properly, and all that stuff in your foot needs time to recover.

How long does it need? That’s where looking at your running volume comes in. If you follow these 2 rules then you’ll be giving your body the space that it needs to recover properly and avoid injury through training too much.

Rule 1: the 10% rule. Only add a MAXIMUM of 10% to your weekly training volume. eg. You run 50km in Week 1; 10% is 5km so in Week 2 you’d run a maximum of 55km. This ensures that you only add on a little bit each week, which allows your body to adapt to the running without being overloaded by too much before it’s ready for it.

Rule 2: the deload rule. When you’ve had 3 training weeks, progressing the volume slightly each week, take the 4th week as a deload week. You can still run fast (in fact this is a great week to get some faster runs in that usual, as you will be running less overall and so feel fresher for these fast runs). But you want to take 10% off your previous training week and make that the absolute maximum that you run that week. Ideally make it closer to 20% that you take off. This will make sure that your body is completely rested and recovered ahead of the next 3 progressive weeks of training. Where do you start again after that deload week? With your old week 3 volume.

As an example, 8 weeks of training volume could look like this (if you were maximising the increases and getting a 20% deload):

Week

Running volume (total kms)

1

50

2

55

3

60.5

4 (deload)

47.5

5

60.5

6

66.6

7

73.3

8 (deload)

58.6


The problem comes when people just consistently chase a higher number each week. You need to plan things out and let yourself recover. Also, if you’re doing faster runs this will take a higher toll on your body so the training volume shouldn’t be as high, so the number of kms run won’t always go up on every week that’s not a deload week. You also need to learn how to listen to your body: if it feels particularly fatigued, more sluggish than usual, then maybe put a deload week in earlier than planned, or just don’t increase the running volume that week.

For more detail around how a running training plan would look for you contact Max at www.max-performance.co.uk

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