The Magic of Running 40 Miles per Week

Something wonderful happens when my mileage stays consistently at, or just above, 40 miles per week. Running becomes easier and more enjoyable, my training pace accelerates, and I feel like a stronger runner. Hell, I feel like a runner, period.

Now that I’m a Masters runner, I’ve learned the benefit of taking 2 rest days each week. I schedule 1 long run, 2 speed sessions, and 2 regular runs each week. Sometimes I’ll run a few easy miles after a 5K race, or I’ll cheat and run a few miles with one of my kids on a rest day. But, I’ve come to appreciate how much better I feel if I recover fully after hard or sustained efforts.

My shortest runs are 5-6 miles long. My long run is usually 10-12. I’ve been through two cycles of marathon training over the last two years, and I can appreciate the value of 60-70 mile weeks for that event. But, this 40 miles per week groove I’m in now feels good. I’m not tired and ravenous like I was during marathon training.

40 mile per week
My last 5 training weeks. You can see one intentional rest week built into the training cycle.


I have a few minor aches and pains, but nothing that alarms me. I recently discovered the benefits of yoga. It’s a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I can’t hold a Figure Four without wobbling, I can’t sit down on my heels in the Child’s Pose, and my downward dog is not pretty, but I’m slowly gaining some much-needed flexibility and mobility.

Ramping up the mileage from 30 to 40 miles per week has been a careful process. You want to follow the 10% rule, which states that any extra weekly miles should be no more than 10% of the previous weekly total. The idea is to give your body time to adjust and adapt to the new training demands.

My pace has dropped as my fitness and efficiency have improved. The effort has stayed consistent. It’s a great feeling!  The key is diversity. Progression runs, tempo runs, hills, long runs, fartlek, and easy runs all have a place in a well-rounded training plan.

Since running 40 miles per week is working so well, would 50 be even better? After all, elite athletes bust 100 miles per week all the time. Perhaps… However, they are #1: elites, and #2: younger than me. I’ll let you know during my next cycle of marathon training.

Thoughts? What’s your magic number? 

16 thoughts on “The Magic of Running 40 Miles per Week

  1. I am sticking to the 40-50 mile weeks, with a cut-back week every so often. Finding that as I get closer to 60 that more than that I feel too beat up. I take a rest day when I feel that I need it, but I don’t let a running streak get above 30 days and am finding that a day off every 10-14 days works best. However, I am slower than you and don’t run as far per run. Plus I have a hyper-active Jack Russell Terrier, who loves to run, so I tend to run with him a lot and that is more why I run as often as I do. 🙂

    Maybe a few more miles now that the weather is getting better up heah. 😉 But nothing drastic until I start prepping for the Maine Marathon this summer.

  2. My magic number hovers right around 40-43 miles. When I started to hit 50 training for my first full, things started to completely fall apart for me. I ended up actually dropping down to 4 days during that training period and cross-trained on the other days as well as lifted weights.

    1. Heather, I think a lot of people underestimate the value of a solid base, and how much time it takes to build up to marathon training. Do you lift weights for running-specific strength or general fitness?

  3. Right now between 35 and 40 is my sweet spot, but I also include some bodyweight strength training that focuses on functional movements. These have been really effective in preventing injury, and even soreness. I used to have tight/sore IT bands constantly, but not anymore with the added movement.

  4. Good article! I’m a masters runner like you and I think my sweet-spot is somewhere between 40 and 50 per week. As I look back at my training data, i’ve had a number of months where I alternated 40ish miles one week, then 50ish miles the next. This type of schedule seems to allow me to continue to improve while staying relatively injury free. During marathon training I actually logged a couple of consecutive 60 mile weeks but the aches and pains got sharper and scarier (close to jeopardizing my race!). It may be that my body just wasn’t ready for that (though I did follow the 10% rule) or I may have simply found the outer edge of what my 40-something year old body can tolerate. I suspect it is the latter, though I am sure I will push on this limit again next year when I train for Boston.
    Great website – keep doing what you do!

  5. So far I’ve been doing 20-30 with strength training, yoga, & zumba on the side. But 1. I have only been running about 2yrs not very fast thus far 3. work a full time job, a part time job, and have 3 teenagers. Hopefully I will gradually increase/get faster 🙂

  6. I am currently in high school and we run about 10 miles a week. If I run this will it help me become better in running 2 miles for cross country??

    1. Autumn, This will definitely help. But, you should progress slowly and mix your runs with slow, fast, hills, etc. to build your strength and endurance. I would suggest that an athlete preparing for a 2-mile cross country race run at least 20-25 miles weekly. Good luck!

  7. Thank you for writing this! As a former 60 mpw runner, due to LIFE I’ve backed off to now about 15 mpw. I hate it. My sweet spot is about 40 mpw like you. I love the 12 mile long run, with short runs at 5-6. My favorite schedule is run Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, off Thursday, run Friday and Saturday, rest Sunday, with some lifting and yoga. How I long for those days back. They’re a 2017 goal! Thank you again!

  8. Hi what sessions would 40 mile a week say 1 track session,1 tempo run,1 long run and 2 normal easy runs …does this sound ok

  9. I love this short article! So relevant to me. I’m venturing to the consistent 40 mark for the first time. i used to peak at 42-44 for my marathon training in my twenties back when i did very low total mileage and 3-4 runs each week. Now I run 5x per week and have never felt better and am injury free. I’m so excited to see what the 40 mile threshold will bring….hopefully a 90min half marathon.

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