It's simple, it's a logical formula: run more to improve more, right? But is that really a good idea? In fact, it all depends on "how" you do it... Running more to progress more can be as effective as it is disastrous! The preferred formula will always be to run smarter and not to align the kilometers without question. In the end, as long as there is a logic in the volume of training we choose to do, there can be a benefit! But let's see what all this means for your training!
Running more = more stress = more risk!
Be careful, when I talk about stress, it's not negative! It is even one of the founding principles of running progress. In fact, it is the stress we put on our body that forces it to adapt and makes us progress. This stress is therefore positive, without it, no progress... But on the contrary, inflicting too much stress on yourself and going beyond what your body can accept... It is falling into overtraining... And then you no longer progress or even get hurt! Knowing that the stress we impose on our body is a mixture of the volume and intensity of our training....
We can deduce a progression curve according to the training we do. As you can see below, the curve is based on 4 distinct areas. It's up to you to define where your boundaries are in each of the areas and above all... where you would like to be! Because as you can see... if running more to progress more is a sensible formula... from a certain point on, the gain you can make is minimal compared to the investment! And if we exceed the maximum limit... then it's overtraining and all the negative effects mentioned above.
Defining the boundaries of each zone is complex!
The problem is that there is not a universal level of stress to progress in running... far from it! The factors that will define our tolerance for stress and our ability to progress in the face of it are even numerous! Each of us will, by nature, be able to tolerate a different level of stress. And this natural tolerance will, in addition, be directly dependent on what we do... All this depends on the genetics but also on the experience of the runner, his investment in recovery or even the very composition of his training...
I will come back to all this but I wanted to explain why the scale in the graph above is not quantified. Indeed, according to the runner, it is impossible to say if 4 training sessions per week is: not enough, optimal or too much. From one runner to another, all three answers may be correct!
Running experience is important!
It is a fact, someone who has been running for a long time, will have a greater tolerance to accept the training. By running regularly, we get our bodies used to running, we strengthen them and we are gradually able to do more. And if we decide to add a little bit more, regularly, whether by volume or intensity... we continue to adapt and evolve our curve in the sense that "running more makes more progress".
As you will have noticed, I am talking about progressiveness, experienced runners... because it takes years to build this experience, not a few months! So no drastic increase in volume / intensity overnight, otherwise you go straight into the overtraining box! If for some people, doing weeks over 100km has become routine... for others it is equivalent to 30km per week in terms of stress on the body!
The 10% rule: run more yes, but gradually!
Rome was not built in a day, they say, and so it is for the training load that we can tolerate. A very simple rule that can be used is the 10% rule. This rule says that you should not add more than 10% to your volume per training year. And it's the same logic when you look from one week to the next. Just because you've already run 80km a week doesn't mean you can go from 40 to 80km from one week to the next.
No, in the short term too, increasing the volume must be done gradually. 10% more each week, no more, same for long outings. The increase in the duration of long outings must also be done gradually. If this rule is rather conservative, it will also help many people avoid trouble so use it wisely! ????
Running more = recovering more!
The progression can be defined in a fairly simple way: progression = stress x recovery. I often repeat it because it is a sector that is too neglected: we are actors of our progress, especially when we are not running. Because the stress we inflict on the body is cumulative. There is the one of training of course but also the one of daily life. All our actions and actions can cause additional stress. I discuss this in detail in this article. In short, recovery is part of the training for someone who really wants to improve and who has the means to do so. The main factors of recovery are: nutrition, hydration, sleep and sufficient time between sessions.
If we reason by the absurd: do a big workout then eat a fast food, continue the evening with flowing alcohol, an almost sleepless night and go back to the workout planned in his plan the next day... it's a perfect cocktail so that these workouts don't improve but rather regress... While with optimal recovery, these workouts would have allowed you to progress well. We pay a lot of attention to our training plan when we want to improve, but it's only part of the job!
Optimize your recovery, more efficient than running more?
In the end, remember that the more you stress your body with training, the more you have to focus on the recovery aspect to get the benefits. And we often neglect the impact we can have on it. But by optimizing our recovery as much as possible, we make each training even more profitable. We can therefore train as much as before, pay more attention to recovery and thus progress more! Not necessarily need to run more to progress more...
On the other hand, better recovery also improves our ability to run more! And therefore to progress more! In short, it is a virtuous circle! Focusing on recovery is a choice, but in the end, there is no point in running more if you don't pay more attention to your recovery next door! ????
Naturally different in our ability to handle the training!
So we are all different in terms of our ability to handle large training loads and improve... but also in the efficiency that this training will have! Some will improve a lot by running more, others will quickly be overtraining or worse hurt themselves. It's unfortunate, but this criterion is partly written in advance! "A lot" can therefore simply mean 2 or 3 training sessions per week. Meanwhile, beginners do 4 or 5 training sessions a week directly without fatigue and while progressing....
I'm not going to dwell too much on that aspect, there's a lot of genetics... and there's nothing we can do about it. In the end, to become a champion, you would have to have both a very good basic level + an ability to handle large training loads + a high level of training readiness. Not given to everyone! ????
Find your ideal volume to progress more!
Depending on all the parameters mentioned so far, you will have understood that running more to progress more can work... or not! And that the only way to know what your body can handle... is to test it! There is no optimal volume other than yours. Depending on your experience, your ability to recover and your efforts on the recovery aspect... you will be able to experience how much running more to progress more works on you or not. And this process can be infinite because it is evolutionary...
Running more, gradually, allows you to take the fact of running more, and so on... And then nothing prevents you from paying more attention to recovery to allow you to run more... It's also a question of choice! Because if you go back to the beginning curve, never forget that running less makes less progress... but that's where paradoxically the biggest "return on investment" in terms of progress is found...
Running more to progress more, a choice!
If we take someone who would have maximum progress at 5 training sessions per week... doing only 3 can give 80% of the potential result... Is the investment of time to get the last 20% worth it for you? Are you ready to invest 2 x 2 hours more each week to run more and progress "a little more"? It's up to you!
In any case, running more to progress more must be an assumed choice as much as a deep desire to run more! Assumed and validated with our loved ones who will also undergo this schedule... and obviously assumed by ourselves! It means keeping in mind that it is a choice to do so... and to make sure that you live it fully and never by "obligation" or "sacrifice" as we sometimes understand it! Why run more if it doesn't bring more pleasure? I'll leave you on this philosophical question, I'll expect your copies in four hours!