Thursday, January 10, 2008


After feeling a little tired during my last two runs, I decided not to go for another medium-long run today. Instead I got to sleep until 4:50 and “just” go 10 miles. After waking up to temps in the teens yesterday, I was expecting more of the same today. So I was a little surprised when I saw 30 degrees. Combine that with no wind and a nice illumination between the sky and snow pack and it made for a great morning. Had I known this, I may have tried harder to get in 15 miles.

During this time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to change, goal setting, resolutions, etc. As I sit here “stuck” around 80 mpw, I often wonder if I should continue moving my mileage upwards. However, when I talk with people regarding my mileage, they seem amazed. I’m not really sure why. I mean, if the goal is to run better than last year – and I presume we all want to do that – then how do other runners plan on making that happen? Do they ramp up their mileage too, but just at a later date? Do they plan on doing it by running harder speed workouts? Do they keep things the same and hope for faster times? Will the cumulative effect of running for another year be enough to make them improve? How do other runners plan on running faster in 2008?

Also, it seems like we need to adjust our ideas regarding the definition of high mileage. I know this is relative for each runner, individually. However, when we’re talking as a whole, 80 mpw is not high mileage. I doubt you could find a top runner in your region that’s running less than 80 mpw. And Running Times just had an article on how the Japanese run up to 175 mpw – that’s more than double what I’m doing.

Anyway, speaking of goal setting, Kel did a nice job explaining SMART goals here. While I don’t have every workout planned between now and Boston, I do have a general outline in mind for the different phases. I’ll worry about the specific workouts once I get to those phases.

Quote of the day;

“Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible” - Shakespeare


Kirk said...

I had to comment on this one--80 mpw in the dead middle of winter is alot of mileage for someone who has a full time job and other responsbilities or interests in their life. If it was your job (like it is for the Japanese you mention), 80 mpw is not a lot of mileage. I know that I can sustain that kind of mileage for a time in the summer, but there is no way I'd be motivated to do that right now nor could I keep that kind of mileage up for very long.

How do I plan to get faster? For starters, I'm actually running more than 20mpw this winter--that is easy. The rest is consistency of training and making sure I don't burnout and take two months off. See you at the races.

Anonymous said...

I imagine if someone wanted to they could replace some of the miles with cross training. I'd assume there's a fair number of ironman competitors who could get down into the 2:50's based on their current training if they didn't need to swim & bike before running their marathon. Presumably these guys aren't putting in 80-100 miles a week running, but maybe they are.

Kel said...

Something that may help you figure out whether you need to increase miles, increase speed, add something else, etc is to first figure out 2 things:

1. Exactly what are you trying to accomplish? From one of your earlier posts, I think you have this part nailed down pretty well.

2. Exactly where are you starting from? This involves assessing your specific strengths and weaknesses (current VO2 Max, lactate threshold, flexibility, muscle imbalances, etc). Once you learn this, you'll know precisely what you need to adjust to make improvements in your running. Repeating the assessments periodically will also let you know your progress.

It helps if you've tracked your past workouts, race times, nutrition, injuries, etc so that you can learn from past successes and failures. Don't worry about what the Japanese (or anyone else) is doing - figure out what works for you ;)

Andrew said...

The key I think you hit on was you have to do something in order to improve. The same routine (beyond accumulation of mileage) will produce very similar annual results with a slight decrease as we age. (In fact, your improvement may be just being able to run the same pace even though you're a year older).

To improve, you need to provide a new stimulus to the body. It isn't hard to imagine what can be a stimulus... high mileage (or I should say higher mileage) and / or speed work / hill work.

Which stimulus will give you the best long / short term results is a debatable question perhaps suited to an individual answer. But this is what I have found over this last build:

I have spent many weeks just getting back to my previous condition. The better you get, the more it takes to get even better. So for me to improve, first I needed to build back up to where I left off. This was an eye-opener and a humbling experience.

But this is one of the attractions to running and racing - amateur experimentation and the risk and rewards that come with it.

Whatever you do, incorporate some sort of change from the last cycle. For me, it is consistency. Past cycles I would be good for a few weeks then I'd fall off. I am trying really hard to keep consistent this winter. I can tell it's starting to do some good. But the fact it took 12 weeks to show up was a little disconcerting....

So if you're 'stuck', then unstick yourself and do something a little different. It will make a difference.

All the best!

Trisaratops said...

Damn. And to think I was all excited about hitting 26 miles this week. haha

But, of course, it's all relative, right?

I'm in the process of trying to figure out how to do Steelhead 70.3 on August 2 and then PR at Columbus on October 19th. The highest weekly mileage I've ever had during marathon training in 2005 was somewhere around 52, but that was only with running. I need to figure out how to balance the HIM training with focused marathon training. So if you or anyone else out there knows the secret, pass it on please.

Bottom line is I'm in awe of your winter weekly mileage.