Q: How do I Increase Mileage Without Burning Out?


I ran XC and track in high school and am now running in college.

In high school XC I ran at most 25 mile weeks. Sometimes we only ran 15 mi weeks. Now in college I have to run 5-10 miles everyday and I’m used to running those distances a few times a season.

I dont want to burnout but I dont want to fall behind before I even go to XC camp. Any advice?




Writing to you from a Spanish Village

I write to you from this spanish plaza.

Hey Sarah,

Your worry is a normal one.  If you’ve been doing two sports for four years, you have the basics down really well, and you will be ready to take a jump to the next level.  So long as you are sensible about it, and don’t go running 10 miles every day right off the bat like a dork.  To be frank, you will not be competitive in NCAA Div 1 cross country off of 25 miles a week.  But you can be with 40-50 with a good coach.

These are things I’d pay attention to so you have the best chance of an injury free, successful transition:

  • Increase gradually (5 miles a week)
  • Instead of running 10 miles each day, split it into 5 in the morning and 3 in the afternooon, three times a week.
  • Once your reach 40, alternate a high week and low week (i.e. 40, 45, 40, 50, 45, 50, 45, 50.)
  • For me, the key to the transition was a day off every week so my body could purely adapt and recover.  I did this all four years of college.
  • I count mileage over 8 days when I take a day off, instead of seven.  Six days a week, your body is under the stress of a ____ mile week, so honor that.  Don’t live by the number in your log, basically.
  • As you build mileage, do static stretching (1min holds) on major muscle groups, including IT band, after every run.
  • Mileage won’t make you burn out; neglecting proper recovery will.  The more you run, the more you need to adjust your lifestyle (sleep, healthy food, recovery runs, days off, etc) so that your energy remains balanced.

Risk is a requirement of athletic success.  In my experience, it is the measured risks are the most consistently rewarded.  The process of pushing your body forces you to tune in to yourself more.  Its a very intimate thing, and it will shape you, not only as an athlete, but as a person.