Groningen Study on the 10% Rule

by Bea | June 30th, 2011 | Running

I just read an article in New York Times the other day that mentioned a study in Groningen and the 10% rule. The word Groningen attracted me purely because I currently live in Holland; however the challenge to the 10% rule was also something I was happy to see. The 10% rule, that you should never increase your mileage or workout schedule by more than 10% every week, is just hearsay.

When trying to figure out its origin, you will realize that this has been lost somewhere along the way. No one really knows if it is right or not, but to most, it does seem like a logical rule. 10% seems like a gradual increase, something that will prevent you from being injured, but whether or not that really is the case is unknown. In fact, it has rarely been documented in a study. There actually aren’t many scientific studies based on novice runners at all.

There is one group in Groningen, Netherlands who is studying 532 novice runners who wanted to train for a 4 mile race held in their town. Their average age was 40 years old. In the study, half of the participants were to follow a program that followed the 10% rule over the course eleven weeks. By the end of the training period, they would be running for 90 minutes a week. For an experienced runner, this is nothing. One could argue that 90 minutes should be doable by the average human being without resulting in any form of injury, but this was how the study was preformed.

The other group performed an 8 week program. They built up to 95 minutes a week. As constant variables, everyone warmed up and everyone only ran 3 days a week. As could be predicted, they saw no difference between the groups. About 1 in every 5 runners had an injury.

If you ask me, 90 minutes a week was not enough to base this study on; however, it is a start to challenge that “no more than 10% per week” guideline.

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