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How to Set Up Your Weekly Mileage for Smarter Training

A runner's weekly mileage is a good indicator of running success. Here are some tips on how to schedule your runs throughout the week.

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There’s always a lot of attention paid to a runner’s weekly mileage. And for good reason: your total mileage, or volume, is one of the best indicators of success in the sport of running. Quite simply, the more you run, the more endurance you’ll have. With higher endurance, you’ll have the capacity to run harder and for longer.

Once you’ve planned your season and know your goals and races, the question becomes: how should that mileage be structured? No matter if you run 20 or 50 miles per week, you’ll need to pattern those runs appropriately or risk a running injury or (best-case scenario), stagnating progress.

The runners who are doubling their mileage in just a month or just running the same distance every week are training the hard way. They’ll never achieve as much as they could with a more strategic way of running their mileage.

First, let’s discuss some underlying principles that govern how weekly mileage should be broken down into daily totals.

Timeless Mileage Principles to Remember

These principles, or “rules,” dictate how the weekly mileage total is broken up into daily mileage numbers. So if you’re running 10 miles a week or covering 10 miles per day, these still apply.

1. Be sure to spread the work around.

The week is seven days long, so your effort should be about even throughout the week. Many runners will front- or back-load their week with miles, resulting in a majority of miles being run in just a two- or three-day period. For example, they might run 20 miles during the first three days of the week and only 10 miles over the last four days. This extreme swing of effort dramatically increases your injury risk.

2. Space the hardest days evenly apart.

If you run a long run and a faster session once each per week, it’s more effective to maintain 2–3 days of easy running between these challenging workouts.

Rather than spacing them just a day apart (for example, a workout on Thursday and a long run on Saturday—leaving four easy days until the next workout), it’s best to schedule them with about equal recovery. A Tuesday/Saturday schedule works great for a faster workout and a long run.

3. Be sure to maintain the pillar workouts in your training.

These pillar workouts are a faster workout, a long run, and a medium-long run. The medium-long run is simply the second-longest day of the week and can also correspond with the faster workout. This helps keep your easy days easier and your hard days easier.

Now, let’s see how these principles look in real life.

Weekly Mileage Examples

Below are weekly mileage schedules that illustrate how a weekly total is broken down into individual days. Note that the only thing in these schedules is mileage for simplicity—there are no strength exercises, faster workouts, or cross-training, which any good training plan will include.

20 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: 4 miles
  • Tuesday: REST
  • Wednesday: 5 miles
  • Thursday: 3 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 8 miles
  • Sunday: REST

30 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: REST
  • Tuesday: 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 7 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 10 miles
  • Sunday: 3 miles

40 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: REST
  • Tuesday: 6 miles
  • Wednesday: 10 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 14 miles
  • Sunday: 5 miles

50 Miles Per Week

  • Monday: 8 miles
  • Tuesday: 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 9 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: 16 miles
  • Sunday: 7 miles

Of course, there are many ways to structure your mileage; this is not meant to be definitive but is an example of sound planning that will reduce your injury risk and maximize your performance.