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The 10 percent rule for Runners – Jermain Breidel

Posted in

The 10 percent rule for Runners – Jermain Breidel

The 10% rule in running Jermain Breidel - EkopuraI am Jermain Breidel, running coach at Vondelgym and captain of the Patta Running Team in Amsterdam. Next to that I am a long distance runner. The coming period I will provide you with running tips to help you run more efficiently and train more efficiently. In this second edition I will address the 10 percent rule in running.

What is the 10 percent rule?

This safe, easy to execute method will help you to increase your running distance in a healthy and safe manner.

The 10% percent rule is one of the most important and well used rules in running. The rule is based on the principle that you should never increase your total running distance by more than 10 percent compared to the week before. 


Imagine your total running distance has been 25km in the past period. For some reason – maybe you want to prepare for an upcoming race or you just feel you’re ready for it – you decide to increase your total running distance and frequency. Instead of running three times a week you start to run five times. Your training distance is increasing from 25km a week to 45km a week, an increase of 80 percent. 

The week of the race you start to feel a pain in your knee during running. On Saturday it has become that bad that you cannot even walk normally. You cannot ignore the complaints and realize that you will not be able to run the race the following day. You have a knee injury.

This is the reason why the 10% rule is so important. The majority of running injuries are because of over overuse. These injuries occur when you run too often or you increase your training distance too fast.

Control your enthusiasm

The main enemy for runners s your own energy end enthusiasm. You feel great so you think you can easily run longer distances and a higher training frequency. Maybe its because a friend has challenged you to run a race with him, everyone at work decided to run a race for charity or maybe you have the marathon virus. These types of events are huge motivators so you put all your effort and enthusiasm in your trainings.

Such events are great, except for one thing; your body does not share this enthusiasm. Your body follows a simple and unchanging principle; gradual adjustment to stress.

Gradual adjustment to stress

The gradual adjustment principle is one of the many examples of the intelligence of the human body. Without this intelligence nobody could ever climb the Mount Everest, swim across the English Channel or run a marathon. Because of this principle there are almost no boundaries to what we can achieve. However, you cannot bend the rules because your body will break and you will get injured, sick or really tired if you try.

How does it work?

If you follow the 10% rule your body will get stronger and fitter in a gradual manner. If you are running 10km per week and you want to increase your training distance, run 11km the following week, 12.1km the week after that and 13.2 km the following week. Maybe this seems a slow pace for improvement but in only 8 to 10 weeks you will be running 20km per week.

Continue the 10% weekly distance increase and you will run 40km per week in only 4 months after you started to increase your distance. To increase your distance from 10km to 40km, believe me, that’s a long distance and a lot of running.

10% rule in running Jermain Breidel - Ekopura


Don’t build up too fast, control your enthusiasm, make a schedule and work towards your goal in a controlled manner. When running you almost always win if you follow the path of gradual progress.


If you have any questions about running or running related topics that you would like to know more about? Please let us know in the comments below.


Through the following link you will find the last article + video from Jermain about: the optimal stride frequency.

For more interesting sports related topics you can have a look at our blog.



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