Monday, May 10, 2010


So, we’re just under 6 weeks out from Grandma’s. Goal #1 for Saturday’s race was to keep the momentum going. Check. Goal #2 is to make sure I’m recovered before ramping up again. Normally, I’d worry about getting in my mileage during the week that ends on Saturday. However, I like to think that I’ve finally learned that my body doesn’t know the difference between the 7 days ending Saturday or the 7 days ending Monday. With that said, yesterday was a complete day off and this morning I just ran an easy 5 miles with some strides.

I’ve mentioned that some of these training plans don’t have very many MP workouts in them. Then again, it doesn’t help when you replace 15 miles at MP with a half marathon race. Overall, I’m not sure which one is better when it comes to marathon training. I do know that my next race is a 30K and that will be run a lot closer to goal marathon pace.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check out my latest interview. As I mentioned in the intro, these are the kinds of stories I love to hear about. Brian saw modest marathon progression as he dropped from 3:48 to 3:21 during the course of his first 4 marathons. Then he got serious, ramped up his mileage and proceed to drop over 20 minutes from each of his next 2 marathons. His marathon PR now sits at 2:36.

His interview happened to coincide with a comment I saw on Facebook from a guy I used to run with in high school;
Many of us get caught up thinking that the best runners are the ones who put in lots of weekly miles, the weekend long run, and well timed speed work. The best runners can run fast whether or not they are running long or very short. Pure speed that can be displayed in a 40 meter dash is a better determinant of endurance running potential than how long or often an athlete runs. With this being said, improving your running mechanics, flexibility, and power through drills, explosive strides, and running specific strength exercises in order to enhance your speed, should be your up most priority.
My problem with comments like these is that they’re usually written by people that have never given “lots of weekly miles” a fair try. Granted, I have never made improving my running mechanics, flexibility, and power a top priority either. But I’m pretty sure if you ask all the top runners and coaches in the world, they’ll all vote for mileage first and other ancillary training second.

Brian’s interview and the comment above got me thinking about a new article. Rather than just say, “I’m pretty sure mileage trumps other ancillary training” I thought it’d be worthwhile to write a piece that features runners who’ve increased their volume and seen vast improvements in their running. I already have a list of 6 people, but I want to hear about others. So I need your help. Leave a comment or send me an email if you, or anyone you know, have improved through higher mileage.

And to be fair, if you, or someone you know, have improved through focusing on ancillary training, cutting down to 3 days per week of running, etc., I’d love to hear from you too.

Keep in mind these should be rather significant breakthroughs. If you bumped your mileage by 10 miles per week or added a day of cross-training per week to your plan, that probably won’t cut it. I’m looking for the guy who couldn’t break 12-minutes for 2 miles in high school, but was running 2:28 a few years after college.

Quote of the Day;

“It turns out that the six or seven months of 80 to 100+ mile weeks and running every day really pays off.” - Brian Peterson


Nathan said...


I started running marathons in 2000. For 5 years and 8 marathons, my times ranged from 3:38 to 4:05 built on 30-40 miles per week. After moving to Minnesota, joining MDRA, and ramping up my mileage to 60-70 mpw during training season, and a minimum of 50 mpw during off season, I broke 3 hours within 15 months (dropping my marathon time 40 minutes), and have taken another 10 minutes off my time over the past 4 years through consistently running 50-70 mpw yearround.

Beth said...

Sorry... can't help you with this one. I ran 11 minute miles to start and now can barely crack 10 minutes. I don't think this is what you are looking for. Good luck with your research!

Thomas said...

Actually, my own experience is going the other way at the moment. Sorry.

I increased my mileage with each of my early marathons and my times came down a lot, from 4:06 to 3:05. That's where I hit the buffers, and I was already doing 100 mpw.

For my last race I actually ran a lot less, around 60+ mpw with the highest just over 70. All this for an ultra rather than a marathon, no less. The result? My best race ever and a 25 minutes improvement on my 39 miles PB (which had been soft, admittedly).

Running 100 mpw in singles was too much for me, and I overtrained for a couple of years. It may still be viable in doubles and might possibly yield that sub-3 marathon I had been craving, but with a family of 4 kids I can't see how I can get out for a run in the evenings. I guess that way of training will have to remain a theoretical one. In the meantime I'm more than happy to stick to 60+ miles with one or two very long runs per week, one day of tempo/speed and the rest either easy of cross training.

John G. said...

Pumped to have you upbeat and positive again, old man! The boys and I had thought we were going to have to talk you off the ledge many times in the last 6 mo:) As you know, Fargo looms. I expect BQ's from my training partners and hopefully a PR from me. It all ties into your recommendations to up the mileage. We all agree! Good luck at G-ma's.

Unknown said...

Sorry to be skeptical, but compiling a few cases in each group (breakthroughs with (a) increased training volume, or (b) attention to the ancillary - and how about a 3rd group that did both?) proves nothing. You'll get the self-selected members of the respective "choirs" (i.e. proponents of volume, proponents of "quality"/"less is more"), and it will be biased, unless you happen to get those who volunteer their lack of results/setbacks. And these too will be the self-selected, likely to be vocal ones.

My breakthroughs are long past, but I was/am a "less is more", believer in Horwill. I sometimes wonder if increasing my mileage (from 50-60mpw) might have led to better results, but thought the time constraints and risks of injury offset the possible gains. I could get decent times with 30-40mpw and could never understand the puritanic, joyless miles I perceived in the approach of most Lydiardites.



Chad said...

Nathan, good stuff. I'll keep your improvement in mind.

Beth, have you significantly changed your training at all?

Thomas, I'm guessing you needed those high mileage weeks to get from 4:06 to 3:05.

John, yeah it's nice to have the "feel-good" blog of the year so far. I hope you guys have a great race at Fargo.

amr, you're probably right. But I think sometimes people need to be made aware of what possibilities are out there. I mean, look at Brian's first 4 marathons, they're all between 3:48 and 3:21. Pretty good, but that won't even get you into Boston. Yet how many people can relate to those times? A lot more than can relate to 2:36. Showing the hard work it takes to make that jump may spark someone's imagination.

But like you said, we all have to deal with time constraints and risks of injury, etc.

Beth said...

Chad, I did change my training, increasing from 3 to 5 days of running, adding track work and more mileage. I did improve to a 9:30 mile for about 6 months but slowly started falling apart. If you saw me run, you would know why. My body just doesn't move well enough to take the extra miles and the speedwork. I seem to be able to stay healthy running every other day and hitting about 25 mpw. I hope I can ramp it up for my fall marathon without injury.

Anonymous said...

High mileage baby. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts.The marathon distance plays no favorites. My fledgling experience in running I've been fortunate enough to train with some talented runners (Reneau, Meissen, Polson). The fastest are more than likely putting in the most miles too.


Anonymous said...

100MPW plus chasing your fast buddies every weekend on long runs got me from 3hrs to 2:30 for the marathon....but rest and weight loss got me under 2:30....looking back I would highly recommend a good base, racing frequently to improve mental focus, rest and run as lite as you are comfortable with without doing harm to yourself to run a good marathon.