The Tipping Point

“My highest mileage week is 90 miles! I start with a 30, then, like three 45, then 50, then 60…” Who do you picture when I say this? A collegiate cross-country runner? A pro? Those may be the people for whom these training cycles are appropriate. As high mileage becomes “cooler” and group runs tip the scales to over 10 miles for “fun,” we are beginning to hear this line from runners of all abilities. Unfortunately we are also seeing an increase in the injuries associated with overly high mileage.

Running-related injuries are common and frequently cause absence from running. Studies among recreational runners have identified that previous injuries, running more than 64 km/ week (39.7 miles), and less than 3 years of running experience are associated with increased risk of running-related injury. Of course, injury risk is also associated with individual strength, mobility and mechanics. Training programs and shoes also play an important role.

The bottom line is that any qualified running coach should be acutely aware of injury risk and will not prescribe unnecessarily high mileage for recreational or novice runners. When examining high mileage plans, the question is always “why?” The training should match the race, not put someone at excessive injury risk.