Has anybody NOT heard of the 10% rule?
Don’t increase your running volume by more than 10% per week
As we all know, this is just a rule of thumb. It exists because we all know that “too much too soon” will get you injured. However, we don’t actually know how much is too much. Is more than 10% too much? Have you ever added more than 10% to your training volume from last week? I know I have! Loads of times. It doesn’t seem to get me injured usually. So how much is too much?
Now, say I ran 30km last week in total. The 10% rule would allow me to run 33km this week. Sounds reasonable right? I probably wont get injured. But what if I add 20%? Or 50%? What if I added 100%? A 100% increase would see me run 60km this coming week. That sounds pretty risky right? I could definitely be in the “too much too soon” range then.
So now we have 2 questions:
- Is there evidence to support the use of the 10% rule to avoid running injuries?
- How much is “too much”
Some researchers from Denmark recently conducted a systematic review to analyse the available evidence on these questions…
- Searched for articles looking at the relationship between training load and running injuries
- 5843 articles found and screened
- 64 articles fully assessed
- 4 met all inclusion criteria and were included in this review
- Of the 4 articles reviewed, 3 found an association between increases in training load and running injuries
- Cantido Ferreira 2012: Injured runners had recently changed either running speed, distance, volume or frequency
- Nielsen 2013: Injured runners had increased their weekly volume by ~ 32%
- Nielsen 2014: Increasing weekly volume > 30% increased injury risk
- Buist 2008: Increasing weekly volume by 24% was no riskier than increasing only 10%
- There is currently no evidence to define a threshold for reckless training increases
- There were only 4 articles reviewed, meaning we only have “very limited evidence” that training load is related to injury risk
- The studies all reviewed “novice” and “amateur” runners who are likely to have more room for larger increases in training…
- Compare adding 30% to a 10km training week (3km) to a 70km training week (21km)
- So these results may not apply to those currently running higher volumes
- There is a little bit of evidence to say that too great a change in training can increase injury risk
- We currently have no evidence-based threshold to define what “too great a change” is
- The current evidence says ~ 30% is definitely too much in one week
- We have no evidence to say what increases in volume per month or per year are safe
- We have no evidence to guide us regarding changes in speed, technique, frequency or other training metrics (only volume)
- There is no evidence to support the 10% rule
- Definitely keep weekly volume increases below a maximum of 30%
- Increasing by 30% every week would be reckless, but occasionally it might be ok
- If you are running high volume already, keep the changes in volume small