Marathon Series with Tom Hamilton – The 10% Rule

Published: 21 Mar 2023

Marathon Series with Tom Hamilton – The 10% Rule

Hey there, fellow runner!   So, you’re preparing for a marathon, huh? Good for you! But wait, before you start ramping up your mileage, let’s talk about the 10% running rule.

Yes, yes, we’ve all heard it before – don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% per week. It’s been a staple guideline for runners for ages. But guess what? Recent studies have shown that it might not be entirely accurate.

Turns out, some runners can safely increase their mileage by 25-30% per week without risking injury. Meanwhile, others may need to increase their mileage at a slower rate to prevent injuries. So, while the 10% guideline can be a useful starting point, it’s not a one-size-fits-all rule.  Research has shown that we can push that in beginner to intermediate  to 25 to 30%. But for the elite runner, already doing high mileage a jump of 10% might be too much.

So, what should you do? Well, don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging. Here are a few tips to help you increase your mileage safely and effectively:

  • Start with the 10% rule: As I said before, the 10% rule is still a good starting point. It’s a safe and gradual way to build up your mileage. Just remember, it’s not the be-all and end-all.
  • Listen to your body: Your body knows best. If you’re feeling fatigued, sore, or have any pain, slow down or take a break. Pushing through the pain is a surefire way to get injured.
  • Take recovery seriously: Recovery is just as important as your training. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking rest days.
  • Mix up your workouts: Don’t just focus on running. Cross-training, such as swimming or cycling, can help prevent injuries and improve your overall fitness.

So, there you have it. Don’t be afraid to break the 10% rule, but also don’t forget to listen to your body and take recovery seriously. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be one of those runners who can safely increase their mileage by 25-30% per week. But for now, let’s stick with the 10%.


Sure, here are three published papers about the 10% rule:

  1. “The 10% Rule for Increasing Running Mileage: Myth or Method?” by Sarah J. Moss and Carl Foster, published in Sports Medicine in 2011. This paper explores the history of the 10% rule and examines the scientific evidence behind it. The authors conclude that while the 10% rule is a good starting point for runners, it may not be appropriate for all individuals.
  2. “Running Volume Increases Differentially Modulate Hippocampal and Prefrontal GABA In Vivo” by Hideaki Soya et al., published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2017. This study investigated the effects of different running volume increases, including a 10% increase, on the brain. The authors found that a 10% increase in running volume did not result in significant changes in brain activity, whereas larger increases did.
  3. “Effects of the 10% rule on subjective assessment of injury risk in male novice runners” by Kristina Fagher et al., published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine in 2019. This study surveyed male novice runners about their adherence to the 10% rule and their subjective assessment of injury risk. The authors found that runners who adhered to the 10% rule were more likely to report lower injury risk, but this relationship was not statistically significant.