2-Mile Rule

Ever have a day where you really just don’t feel like running or feel like it’s hard to get into your run and you want to give up? I have them often. Not as often as I used to years ago when I started running, but I still do have them. I think everyone has them to a certain extent, even those who have been running for a long time. On days where my legs feel heavy, I’m tired,  and I’m close to giving up right away, I remind myself of the 2-Mile Rule.

Most people have been following this rule in some iteration and I’m no exception. But it wasn’t until I ran across an actual label or name for it in the fictional work Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr., that I realized I was following it (keep reading for a quick synopsis of Once A Runner–one of the best running novels–and it’s sequel, Again To Carthage).

 Here’s the passage from the novel, which explains the rule:

 The rule holds that “you shouldn’t try to figure out how you’re feeling until at least two miles into the workout”. Sometimes we have days where we feel we’re going to have a bad run, only to warm up and end up having a great one. We just need to stick it out through 2 miles. I always keep this in mind if I start out a run feeling lethargic or mentally distracted (or weak). Around 2 miles I usually get into the swing of things and sometimes my best runs stem from a really crummy first two miles. Although this rule works because it allows for our muscles to warmup adequately, I think there’s something more to it. Something that I just can’t put my finger on. It’s almost like we need to get into the rhythm of running, that place where our minds go, a form of  internal (or sometimes external if you’re focusing on your body/gait/etc) dissociation.

One thing to note is that this “rule” can be adjusted. If you don’t typically run that far or are new to running, you may find that a “1-mile rule” works for you.

Unfortunately, as the passage in Once A Runner highlights, the phenomenon also seems to work in the other direction too: some days you can feel great right off the bat and expect an effortless run (you know, one of those runs) only to crumble and really struggle mentally and physically after a few miles in.

If you haven’t read them yet, Once A Runner and Again To Carthage are really good reads. I have to admit that although Parker’s novels, at times, can be a little overwritten (he uses unnecessarily flowery or overly complicated language and sentences in certain areas if you ask me), they’re well worth the read. Especially if you are a runner! The story follow the struggles of Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner, as he trains and competes in a few life-changing races. If they don’t get you amped up to start a training program or get out there running, you might not have a pulse 😉

Other running-related reads I’ve enjoyed?

Going Long, a compilation of some of the best articles from Runner’s World (I’ve mentioned one of my favorite articles in this book before)

 And of course Born To Run, which helped bolster the minimalist running craze, as well as my guru, Hal Higon’s Ultimate Marathon Training Guide Do you follow a 2-mile rule (or something similar to it)?

What are your favorite running-related books (or sports-related…I’m an equal opportunity reader)?  


On a separate note, there are some fun things to look forward to and keep an eye for out on the ‘ol blog:

1. This weekend is the Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon! In celebration of running in central Virginia and the wonderfulness (is that a word? 😉 ) that is 13.1 and 26.2, I’m having a FOUR-PART GIVEAWAY. Yep, you heard that right, starting next week I’m having 4 giveaways of some of the coolest running apparel and gear our small town has to offer 🙂

2. I’ve gotten a ton of emails about the amazing sweet potato salsa that I mentioned during my Mono Loco recap, and after speaking with them there today, I have the recipe (and a few other ideas)!!!!!! I’ll be trying it out this weekend and posting it early next week 🙂

Keep your questions coming, I love to hear from you!

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13 Responses to 2-Mile Rule

  1. i’ve never heard of the 2 mile rule before but i love it! i definitely have days where the last thing i want to do is run. and if people say they never feel like that, they are liars. i need to get my hands on these books 🙂

  2. kaitwatts says:

    I like that rule. I always say keep going, it will get easier, but the 2 mile rule makes it sounds so much easier.

  3. Roberts says:

    The two mile rule is so true. It takes the body some time to oil up the joints and get the fluids going. I will pick up the books, great suggestions.

    • I like that! “oiling up the joints and get the fluids going” I’m going to think about that on my run today

      • Roberts says:

        I wish I could take credit for that. My podiatrist told me that when he was try to explain why my bad ankle feels great after mile two, and feel terrible about an hour after my run. He of course used more technical terms, but that was the gist of it.

  4. tdowell says:

    I totally do the 2-mile rule, but had never heard it called that! Even if I just go another .25, I never stop at 2, and 95% of the time, I’ll go to three because it’s not so bad! I’ve got to check out these books.


    • I’m the same way! I always end up going at least 1 mile more than I tell myself I will (even when I feel crappy).

      Definitely check the books out! Whenever I feel like I am lacking motivation I pull them out and read a few pages 🙂

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  8. Zeynep says:

    It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. Ive read this post and if I could I want to sgugest you some interesting things or sgugestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

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