Why do you run so much?
I get asked that question a lot during marathon training and higher mileage was also one of the topic suggestions I received on this post.
I do find that I have received a lot of benefits from running higher mileage (“higher” being a relative term, compared to some I would be considered low/mid mileage), but really my answer is also a simple one: because I like to!
I like running, I look forward to most of my runs and my body has handled the "higher" mileage well, so I just run! I do think runners can have success on lower mileage/high quality programs and doing what works best for you is always the way to go. High mileage is what works for me.
When I train, I like to make my legs, body and mind tired and I find that running a lot is the best way to get that done for me. I like having recovery runs where I don’t have to worry about going fast. I like running double digits during the week, it makes the distance less mentally daunting. I thrive on running a lot and getting out there every day, it’s just what makes marathon training marathon training to me.
After going through 8 marathon training cycles I also have also developed some preconceived notions for myself that are hard to get rid of. I know what my highest weekly mileage is and I know what I have averaged in the past. Being competitive with myself and always wanting to be better, it’s hard to not try to beat that each training cycle. I am trying to put those aside this time and I am not planning on setting a new weekly mileage record, although I will probably get close depending on how I feel. I feel that peaking in the mid-upper 60s is just enough for me to maintain a good balance of having energy for quality runs and walking the fine line between exhaustion and energetic for the rest of them.
This has been an ongoing process through each marathon cycle…
#1: Peaked at 40mpw with occasional speedwork and 4 days of running.
#2: Peaked at 50mpw with one day of speedwork a week and 4-5 days of running.
#3: Peaked at 55mpw with one day of speedwork a week and 4-5 days of running.
#4: "Marathon May" short cycle, piggy backing off of #3.
#5: Peaked at 61mpw with one day of speedwork a week and 5-6 days of running.
#6: Peaked at 66mpw with one day of speedwork a week and 6 days of running.
#7: Peaked at 62mpw with two days of speedwork and 6 days of running.
#8: Peaked at 70mpw with two days of speedwork and 6 days of running.
As you can see this did not happen overnight and has been a gradual process from running 4 days a week up to 6, from adding one day a week of speedwork to two, and from running 40 miles a week max up to 70. I have listened to my body each cycle and responded as necessary to make adjustments. I try to start off my training cycles with a strong base, added conservatively to that base as I get into the core of training, and run slow when I am supposed to.
Running and training is a constant work in process and you have to know your body and how it adapts to it. As with so many other things, making gradual changes over time really helps with success, and as always listen to your body! Increasing mileage too fast is one of the easiest ways to get injured.
What kind of runner are you? Do you run high mileage with slower runs or lower quality-only mileage?
I have another post coming up soon on some steps I take to avoid injury while running high mileage.