running rules blog image

The 7 golden running rules you shouldn’t break

There’s no denying that running is one of the most convenient of all sports. Heck, all you need a pair of running shoes, and off you go. However, if you’re serious about making the most out of your training, there are a few running rules you need to abide by.

In this guest blog, fitness blogger and running expert David Dack has rounded up seven of the most important running rules for you to remember and follow on Every. Single. Run. Along with each rule, David also lists the expectation – as in, when the rule doesn’t make any sense. Because, as you already know, there’s an exception to every rule. Sounds great? Let’s get started.

The 10 Percent Rule

This is so far the most common and wildly accepted of all running rules, and it’s pretty simple: do not increase your weekly training mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week.

Your body can only adapt positively to mild boosts in training load over a short period of time. For example, over the span of a few years, you can double or even triple your training volume, but revving it up too much too soon puts you at a higher risk of injury and overtraining.

Following the 10 percent rule helps you from falling into that trap, especially as you start ramping up the miles. To determine your weekly increase, make a note of the number of miles logged in a week, then add ten percent to that number.  So, for example, if you currently run 16 miles a week, you should only run one to two more miles next week.

When to break the rule

If you’re coming back to running after a long break, you can add more than 10 percent per week, especially if you’re starting with a single-digit number. You should also forget about this rule if you’re taking up running for the first time. Instead, focus on keeping your training consistent, shooting for three 20- to 30-minute sessions per week.


The 3-Hour Pre-Run Meal Rule

Although you may feel tempted to fuel up before a run, eating too close to a workout is a recipe for disaster. Eating too close to your run and the food won’t be properly digested, boosting the risk of side cramps, bloating, and even vomiting. Instead, wait for roughly three hours after a meal before heading out. That window of time is enough for most people for the food to empty from the stomach, especially if it’s rich in carbs.

When to break the rule

You can likely run for about 60 to 90 minutes after a light snack. You might need more than three hours after a heavy meal that’s rich in protein and fat.


The Warm-Up Rule

The warm-up running rule is pretty straightforward: spend at least 5 to 10 minutes, moving around and getting your heart rate up before a run. A decent warm-up prepares your body for running by gradually boosting blood flow and core body temperature.  It also loosens up the muscles, which helps you avoid a sudden jot that could result in injury.

When to break the rule

You may not need to spend a long time warming up for easy/recovery runs – especially on warmer days. Also, take more time to get ready and prepare for extra hard workouts, such as hill reps.


The Conversational Pace Rule

Are you a beginner and serious about preventing injury and/or burnouts? Then abide by the conversational pace running rule. The rule states you should be able to talk in a complete sentence without much huffing and puffing while running. If you can’t, then you must be pushing your body too much – and might need to ease off a bit.

If you can’t recite the string together a few sentences without panting for air, you’re going too fast. Slow down.

When to break the rule

Pushing the pace means getting out of your comfort zone. As a result, you cannot keep a conversational pace during quality runs, speed work, or races. You should be pushing the pace, panting for air on every step you take.


The Strength Training Rule

Research shows that even a couple of strength training sessions per week can help build supporting muscles running while also granting your main running muscles a rest. In case you feel intimidated by weight machines or gyms in general, feel free to start out at the comfort of your own home doing bodyweight exercises, such as lunges, squats, planks, and pushups.

Strength training is only one option. There’s more to it.

Other cross-training exercises that work very well for runners include:

  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Rowing
  • Swimming

When to break the rule

To get better at running, you need to run more. So if your exercise time is limited, devote most of it to running. Think of cross-training as a complementary exercise to running, not the focus of your running program.


The 500-Mile Rule

Want to make sure you’re running in proper shoes? Besides getting the right pair for your running style and need, making sure to replace your running shoes once they have covered 400 to 500 miles is the next step.

When to break the rule

The 500-miler marker isn’t set in stone. It does vary from runner to runner. A shoe’s wear rate can vary, depending on the surfaces you run, your body weight, your foot-strike style, as well as the type and brand of the shoe. So, use common sense, assess your shoes regularly, and listen to your body.


The Body Feedback Rule

When you have running goals you want to hit, it’s natural to want to keep training, day in and day out. But that’s not the way to go if you want to stay trouble-free when training. Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean that you have to follow it to the letter, especially when your body isn’t responding well to the training stimulus.

As a cardinal rule, never run through pain as doing can only make things worse both for the short and long term. Running through pain is not a good idea as it can make things worst. If you experience discomfort or pain while running, ease off or stop altogether.

You should also monitor overtraining and remember not to overdo it.

The main red flags include:

  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Persist pains and aches, whether during or after training
  • Lack of sleep
  • Loss of motivation and drive
  • Irritation and mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Poor performance.

When you’re experiencing a couple of more of these, err on the side of caution and ease off a bit. Pull pack your pace or a take a recovery day (or a few days).



All you need to improve your running experience and make sure you stay away from trouble is to follow these rules. The rest is just details.

What about you? Do you have any running rules you swear by? Please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

About the author

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.

Main image © Fotolia 

2 thoughts on this post

  1. I’ve heard that a plant based diet can help improving speed and help ward off injuries. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *