I have been a runner for the last 20 years, and I've been running and training for road races for the last 12 years. I've learned a lot of things through trial and error (often times EPIC failure) so I thought I would share some of my gems of wisdom. These are rules that work for me and my body (usually), but as everyone knows, rules are meant to be broken. ;)
10% weekly increase.
It is a surprise to no one that I've been injured frequently over the years. I'm always trying to do my best to keep myself injury free, and one of the rules I abide by is the 10% weekly mileage increase. I try my best to not increase my weekly mileage from week to week by more than 10%. So if I run 20 miles one week, the following week I'll do 22 max, then 24 max, and so on while I'm building up.
My body does not like back to back hard workouts. To me, and my legs, "hard" is any fast effort workout, or long run. I wear a heart rate monitor for most of my runs and I pay attention the most to it on the easy days to truly make sure they stay easy. The easier you go on your easy days, the easier it is to go hard on the hard days and get the most out of your key workouts.
When creating my own training programs or finding one to follow, I always make sure they take advantage of a cutback week. I usually like a cutback week every 3-4 weeks to help keep myself healthy and mentally not burned out. Usually the cutback week includes overall lower weekly mileage, still a speedwork session, and a reduced long run. Usually it's the long run I mentally need a break from!
Recovery time after a race.
I never plan races too close together. I know that my body needs ample time to recover from one race before I tackle another one. If I race in the middle of training for another, more major goal race, I allow for the following week to be fairly restful. At least two days of complete rest, lots of foam rolling, and a couple of easy shorter runs later in the week.
What are your tried and true running rules??