We’re home. We took the red eye last night. When I realized I’d booked a flight for myself and two small children at 11:30 at night, I wondered what on earth had possessed me to do such a thing. But when they both fell asleep minutes after take-off, I realized I was actually a genius. That means, of course, that I didn’t actually get any sleep myself, but after breakfast this morning, I let Squish cry himself back to sleep so I could get some shut-eye. If it weren’t for a very persistent FedEx guy, I might still be sleeping.
Anyway it feels good to be home and I look forward to making Micah get up with the boys while they adjust to being in their own beds over the next week. But that’s not what I came here to talk about today. I came here to talk about rules. Specifically, the 10 percent rule. If you have done any serious running/training at any point in your life you have probably heard of this rule. It’s the one that says you should only increase your training mileage/time by 10 percent per week if you want to avoid injury.
It seems like a harmless enough rule, right? I mean, it’s probably wise to let your body gradually adjust to increased mileage. Wise, perhaps, but boring. And not for the impatient among us. Because while it seems like a good idea, what if you’ve only been running 6 miles a week and you are training for a marathon? It’s going to take you forever to build up to the kind of mileage that’ll get you across the line. And I don’t like to wait forever. I’d rather just take my chances with injury, thank you very much, and increase my mileage as I see fit. And to heck with the ten percent rule.
And guess what! It appears as though the 10 percent may indeed be going to heck. Meaning it’s a bunch of bunk. Turns out, recent studies have shown that you’re just as likely to get injured if you increase your mileage by 10 percent per week as if you increase it more rapidly. Running injuries, it seems, are less about increasing mileage and more about adaptation. The trick to overcoming them is to not necessarily to take it more slowly, but to make adjustments (with strength-training, cross-training, flexibility-training, etc.) so you can keep going. If you get injured, listen to your body, learn from it, and go back out there and keep trying.
At least that’s what the New York Times tells me, and I’m too tired to think for myself so let’s hope they’re right.