Common Mistakes The New Runner Makes (Part 3) – Volume

Kindly see this link for parts 1& 2 of this series explaining the first 2 common mistakes that new runners makes.

Part 3. The Volume Mistake: Ambitious Runners Often Train Too Far

Volume describes how much a runner trains. New runners often attempt too much for their fitness. This leads to disappointment as runs get cut short due to reasons like shortness breath or pain.

too much

As your fitness improves, build up your volume by running one longer run per week. Most new runners attempt a long run that is too long in comparison to their total weekly mileage.  As a guide, your long run should represent about 30% of your total weekly mileage.

When ready to increase weekly mileage, a 10% increase per week is considered safe. However, most runners do find that a 10-20% increase in mileage is possible without issue. Don’t forget to include rest weeks, where weekly mileage drops back down by 10-20% percent before building up again. New runners often respond very well to a rest week every other week. More advanced runners can build longer before dropping back down.

Finally, the race distance you are training for will help you determine how many weekly miles you should target before tapering for your event. I prefer to see my runners reach a peak week of at least 20 miles for a 5k, at least 25-30 miles a 10k, at least 35-40 miles for a half marathon, and at least 55 miles for marathon. If my runners cannot reach those minimum mileage goals, I advise them to drop down to a shorter race distance.

If you find that you are having difficulty training, ask yourself if you are making any of the four common mistakes most new (and experienced) runners make. By correcting these common mistakes you will create a more balanced training plan that will allow you to run with more enjoyment, with a lower injury risk, and with better results along the way.

Next Mistake: Response


Shannon McGinn is an RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and the owner of Creating Momentum, LLC.  She is a life-long runner, becoming more involved in racing after surviving cancer.  She considers herself a marathon and ultramarathon specialist, earning several USATF National Championship top 10 or better placements in the 50k and 50M distances. She has not missed a day of running since December 2011.

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