1 . The Specificity Rule
The most effective training mimics the event for which youre training.
This is the cardinal rule of training for any activity. If you want to run a 10 K at seven minute per mile pace, you need to do some running at that pace. Runners are best served by running at goal pace and in the expected environment of that race, says Ann Snyder, Ph.D., director of the human performance lab at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
The Exception Its impractical to wholly mimic a race particularly longer distances in training because it would require extended recovery. So, when doing race specific training, keep the total distance covered shorter than the goal race, or run at your race pace in shorter segments with rest breaks interval training .
2 . The 10 Percent Rule
Increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.
Joe Henderson, the first editor of Runners World, and Joan Ullyot, M.D., author of three womens running books, first popularized the 10 percent prescription in the 1980s. I noticed that runners who increased their training load too quickly were incurring injuries, says Dr. Ullyot.
The Exception If youre starting at single digit weekly mileage after a layoff, you can add more than 10 percent per week until youre close to your normal training load.
3 . The 2 Hour Rule
Wait for about two hours after a meal before running.
For most people, two hours is enough time for food to empty from the stomach, especially if its high in carbohydrate, says Colorado sports dietitian and marathoner Cindy Dallow, Ph.D. If you dont wait long enough, food will not be properly digested, raising the risk of abdominal cramps, bloating, and even vomiting.
The Exception You can probably run 90 minutes after a light, high carb meal, while you may need up to three hours after a heavy meal thats high in protein and fat.
4 . The 10 Minute Rule
Start every run with 10 minutes of walking and slow running, and do the same to cool down.
A warmup prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing blood flow and raising core muscle temperature, says Jerry Napp, a Tampa Bay running coach. The cooldown may be even more important. Stopping abruptly can cause leg cramps, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
The Exception It takes less than 10 minutes to rev up on warm days.
5 . The 2 Day Rule
If something hurts for two straight days while running, take two days off.
Two straight days of pain may signal the beginning of an injury. Even taking five days of complete rest from running will have little impact on your fitness level, says Troy Smurawa, M.D., team physician for USA Triathlon.
The Exception If something hurts for two weeks, even if youve taken your rest days, see a doctor.
6 . The Familiar Food Rule
Dont eat or drink anything new before or during a race or hard workout.
Stick to what works for you. Your gastrointestinal tract becomes accustomed to a certain mix of nutrients, says Dallow. You can normally vary this mix without trouble, but you risk indigestion when prerace jitters are added.
The Exception If youre about to bonk, eating something new is probably better than eating nothing at all.
7 . The Race Recovery Rule
For each mile that you race, allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing.
That means no speed workouts or racing for six days after a 10 K or 26 days after a marathon. The rules originator was the late Jack Foster, the masters marathon world record holder 21118 from 1974 to 1990. Foster wrote in his book, Tale of the Ancient Marathoner, My method is roughly to have a day off racing for every mile I raced.
The Exception If your race effort wasnt all out, taking fewer recovery days is okay.
8 . The Heads Beats Tails Rule
A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up.
So expect to run slower on windy days. I disregard the watch on really windy days because headwinds cost me 15 to 25 seconds a mile, and I only get a portion of that back after I turn around, says Monte Wells, a longtime runner in Amarillo, Texas, Americas windiest city. The key is to monitor your effort, not your pace. Start against the wind, so its at your back in the second half.
The Exception On point to point runs with the wind at your back, youll fly along faster than usual.
9 . The Conversation Rule
You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running.
A recent study found that runners whose heart and breathing rates were within their target aerobic zones could comfortably recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Those who couldnt were running faster than optimal.
The Exception Talking should not be easy during hard runs, speedwork, or races.
10 . The 20 Mile Rule
Build up to and run at least one 20 miler before a marathon.
Long runs simulate the marathon, which requires lots of time on your feet, says Gina Simmering Lanterman, director and marathon coach of the Denver Fit training program. And knowing that you can run 20 miles helps you wrap your head around running 26.2.
The Exception Some coaches believe experienced marathoners can get by with a longest run of 16 to 18 miles, while other coaches suggest runs up to 24 miles.