Step Back weeks and building weekly miles (Read 2358 times)


    OK - I have basically had on and off nagging, not serious injuries since May. My plan is to take a look at my last 12 weeks average weekly miles - which is 10.5 - and increase that by the "10% a week" rule. Would like to get up to 25 - 30 MPW.


    I have read that some runners have "step back or cut back" weeks - reducing their weekly total perhaps every three or 4 weeks.


    If I did that - say in week 4 - then 1) how much do I decrease my weekly total by and 2) after the "cut back" week - do I increase it by 10% from the cut back week or from the prior week.



    Week 1: 10 miles total for the week

    Week 2: 11

    Week 3: 12

    Week 4: ??10??

    Week 5: Do I increase by 10% from Week 3 or Week 4 ??


    an amazing likeness

      Not all "step back" approaches are in terms of distance.  You can have a step-back in effort, running easier to give yourself an easy week while not loosing distance.  I wouldn't sacrifice distance, even if it means walking some days to get a easier week.

      I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)

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        Week 5: Do I increase by 10% from Week 3 or Week 4 ??



        from week 3, the larger week

        It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

          Yeah from a 2nd grade math perspective the answer seems pretty clear.  If your goal is to get to 25 or 30 and you start start at 10 miles and go back to 10 miles every 4th week and build from there, you'll obviously never get past 12 miles in a week.

          Runners run.

            Slightly more then a year ago, I was asking the same questions.........but one day I suddenly realized that I was really making something that was really simple seem complicated.......


            So -- I just simply started adding ONE mile ever other week ( or when I felt OK to run more).....I would get from 10 MPW to 20 MPW in 5 months.....now that's really a pretty slow increase --- but its how I did it............


            If I had a week that I was a little extra tired (or needed a step back week), I would throw in some walking and cover the same distance...but try to keep my distance uniform.....but lessen my intensity......


            NOW, I am at 40 MPW and doing the same thing and its still working out for me....so my advice to you is to possible consider an alternative approach.....

            Champions are made when no one is watching

              This is very conservative but also advised if you have the time and want to run long term safely and allow body to adapt.

              Increase the load, adapt, increase the load again. This is what I prefer for runners like you vs. a cut back week (which is also perfectly fine).


              Week 1  12

                         2   12

                         3   12

                         4   14

                         5    14

                         6    14

                         7    16

                         8    16

                         9    16


              Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!

                It's okay to be conservative, but on the other hand, you have to know yourself. No way I could do the kind of build that John described. I'm not that patient or methodical as a person.


                Here's my advice: if you want to get to 25-30 mpw, choose a date that is in a future near enough to feel it. Say, four weeks from now. It could even be two weeks. That's your first 25-30 mile week. Commit to it. Plan it out. An hour (probably less!) a day.  Then, run that week.


                During the week, pay attention to how you feel. Make the mileage your only goal. Don't be afraid to run slow (see I said it). Take care of your legs. Get some sleep. Ice, etc. Then the next week, try it again. You might find that you are more ready for it than you believe, if you listen to your body.

                  Given my history of injuring myself by ramping up way too quickly, I've been successful (minus minor tendonitis) this year building up for 3 weeks and backing off 30-40% on the 4th.


                  I wouldn't really hold yourself to stone to the 10%/week rule unless you notice a significant difference adding more than 10%.


                  So if you're starting from 10 miles/week, its reasonable to project 25-30 miles per week can be safely obtained in less than 5 months:


                  Cycle 1:  11, 13, 14, 7

                  Cycle 2:  15, 17, 19, 10

                  Cycle 3:  18, 20, 22, 13

                  Cycle 4:  20, 22, 25, 15

                  Cycle 5:  23, 25, 27, 16


                  You may need to adjust your pace - if you're running 10 miles per week at 10:00/mile pace, for instance, and you feel a little tired, back one or two runs off your pace to get the distance in without discomfort.  In the step back weeks I also tend to chop back on the long run distance, back off my pace in the normal runs, and maybe skip the tempo workout.  Your body will require recovery from both the distance and the pace.  If you feel refreshed and "springy" at the end of the cutback week, then its accomplished its goal.


                  How you'll react is dependent upon your body.  You may find yourself "growing" into the distance and you'll get stronger, giving you the ability to also increase your pace...you can do that to a point.  In my example, nothing is increasing by more than 20%, but if more than 10% taxes you too much (illness, great amount of fatigue, injury) then by all means stick to the 10%.


                    This may be simplifying things too much, but looking at your log, you have run 7 miles in a single run recently.  Just because you are erratic and your "average" is 10miles per week doesn't mean that you should start at 10.  Anyone that can run 7 miles in one shot can certainly do 25 miles in a week.  I haven't run for 10 months and just started back.  If I got all scientific about my average lately, I would never get anywhere.  Listen to your body, go easy when you feel like you should.  Do whatever feels good each day and if you go a little farther one day than you thought you could, then be aware the next day, that maybe you might need to go less.
                    Favorite quote: Stop your crying you little girl! 2011: Mt Washington, Washington Trails, Peaks Island, Pikes Peak.

                      I looked at log also and see some 15-17 mile weeks. You may have ramped up a little quick or perhaps the faster tempos while increasing miles was a stress to you. I suggest eliminating the tempos and just building some miles and a very comfortable pace maybe with some striders a couple days a week. When you hit 25 miles per week for a few weeks you can add a tempo. With that being said, I don't think you need to be as conservative as I mentioned previously unless of course you want to. You can never be hurt by running a bit slower and and at a slower progression. Think of the long term - months or years down the road. It is nice to build miles, strength and fitness while staying healthy. This strength will allow you to add some quality in the miles and continue to build strength and improve race times long term.




                      Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!



                        peeked at your log & you are actually avg. closer to 14 mpw over last 5 complete weeks.  combine that with your pace history/pr's I think ur much closer & capable of 25 mpw than you think (barring injury).  My suggestion would be to follow plan outlined by kpk33x but start at cycle 2.   you can always slow down your pace 20-30s or even add abit of run/walk if needed.  Of course you always need to constantly judge how your body reacts.  alittle fatigue, tired would be normal while increasing mileage (remember you can always slow down pace & concentrate on duration/mileage) , but as long as there are no serious issues s/b fine.    At 53 I have minor issues everytime I run (seems something different each day) but have learned what am capable of.   10% is a general rule, not a concrete rule.  Be consistent, build slow.


                          Great feedback - much appreciated - thanks all.


                          My guess is I ramped up a bit to quick to get to the 15-17 mile weeks. Had an off an on nagging calf strain over the earlier part of the summer. It resurfaced over the last 6 weeks and recently my left knee seemed to be showing very early signs of runner's knee (doing some quad exercises to try to stop this from getting worse) - that is why I looked at my 12 week average and thought 10 MPW was the place to start.  But maybe that is too conservative.


                          I have a hard time designing my own program and typically realy on something online (like Hal Higdon plans).


                          Perhaps kpk33x "Cycles" make more sense. With two goals - 1) 25-30 MPW and 2) HM around Thanksgiving - I'd like to remain injury free too.

                            OK - I have basically had on and off nagging, not serious injuries since May. My plan is to take a look at my last 12 weeks average weekly miles - which is 10.5 - and increase that by the "10% a week" rule. Would like to get up to 25 - 30 MPW.




                            Those nagging injuries indicate there is a high probability your training load is too high to begin with. Time on your feet and/or intensity of your workouts need to be reduced. You are more than likely running too hard. Following the 10% rule is not necessarily a good idea. Try reducing your intensity first at your current level. See if your body starts to feel better.

                            The easiest way to keep your intensity in check is with a heart rate monitor. If you can't do that, or don't want to, try running a 10 to 10:30 pace instead of the 9:30ish you are running everything. Monitor your body, see if you feel better. Once you do, then try increasing time on your feet by 5% per week. Keep tabs on the soreness.


                            Cut back weeks are really recovery weeks. Everyone has different rates of recovery depending on age, genetics, and level of health and fitness. So, it's best to use the week to recover, physical and mental, with a volume that helps you do so. Your load might need too be cut 20%, maybe 50%. It depends. Let your body be your guide. Even if you took the whole week off, you would lose no, or barely any,  fitness. Just a few short aerobic runs might be all you need. then when you return to the next 4 week cycle, you'll be fresh, and your body will have made adaptations during the recovery week.


                            I also suggest structuring your workouts by time, not mileage. An hour at a given intensity is an hour at a given intensity, but one person's 10 miler is not necessarily another's. 10 miles might be a brief recovery run for a fast, talented runner, but a taxing 2 hour long run for a beginner. As your aerobic system develops, you will cover more and more ground  in the same amount of time at the same intensity.



                            Good luck!



                            Log & Profile            Crusted Salt #210


                              ah, the whole story is coming into more focus after your last post. Sounds like your "nagging injuries" may be potentially more serious than your original post made  it seem.   Still believe that kpk33x cycles may work for you if you slow down, work on duration/mileage & not so much pace.Your goal right now is to slowly increase  mileage, correct (& stay injury free)?.  Maybe use his cycle plan but cut back 10-20% of the mileage., which would make it close to tchuck's recommendation except with a recovery week thrown in.  Most of these posts are similar in agreement so you should have a good plan now.  You are capable of coming close to your goal in a relatively short time, but the question is whether or not your body can adapt quickly enough to avoid more than "nagging injuries".

                                1) There is a high probability that there is no relationship whatsoever between the niggling injuries and the weekly mileage.


                                2) If there is a relationship between the injuries and the mileage, I'd bet it's the opposite of what is assumed on this thread by most posters. My guess would be that the niggles are more likely to occur at her current weekly mileage than at the 30mpw level.