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Importance of weekly mileage (Read 1640 times)

luke77


    Hi guys,

    I've been running for several years, and I'm thinking about doing a marthon and have a question of two.

    In the past I've done some halfs without training very much, adding a 9-10 mile long run to my routine two 
    months before the race, then finishing the half in decent time but struggling a bit. I know the marathon is a 
    completely different animal though and it requires a lot more training. I've been upping my long run gradually,
    hitting 17.5 miles this morning, and I'm just now reading all the stuff I probably should have read two months ago. 

    So, I've had knee problems in the past from overuse when I ran too many miles, and I'm hoping to avoid that. 
    Accordingly, I've dropped my running days to 4 per week, with three 5-mile runs and then my long run. I've been
    reading though (mostly on running forums, including this one) that what matters is not neccesairly the length of the 
    long run, at least after a certain point, but your overall miles per week. I guess this is to get your body prepared for
    the high mileage of the marthon. This has me a bit worried, since my mileage is only 15 per week plus whatever my 
    long run is that week (so 32.5 this week, but it won't get much higher than that unless I change the mileage on my 
    short days or add more running days). So I'm wondering, what specifically is the purpose of adding miles to your 
    short runs or running more frequently? It seems logical that building a base by running semi-frequently is important, 
    but after that, you are basically training for one long run. So it makes sense (superficially) that the most important 
    thing is to come close to replicating the run you are going to do when you do the marathon. What benefit do you get 
    from running more miles on non-long days? 
     
    If it's important, I'm running 7:30ish miles on my short days without pushing too hard and then about 8:30 on my long days.
    Thnaks.
      I can see why you get injured, your LR is too much of your weekly mileage. I usually like my LR to be no more than one-third of my weekly mileage. I think the solution would be to back off the LR, but up the frequency of your runs until you gradually increase your mileage to the point where you can do an 18-20 miler without having it dominate your weekly mileage the way it does. So run 5-6 times a week, alternating 6 and 4 miles, and then gradually increase this with your LR being 30% or so of your total weekly mileage. If you don't, you will constantly get injured as your cardio fitness outpaces your musculoskeletal fitness. These shorter base mileage runs toughen your body up, make your connective tissues more resilient, so putting them aside to focus on the LR just opens you up to injury.

        Luke,

         

        Good questions. Weekly mileage is hugely important. It's probably THE most important variable in running success. It's the day-in-day-out runs that transform your body into the body of a runner. They are the runs that make the changes in your heart, your capillaries, your nerves, your muscles, and your mind.

         

        In training for the marathon--like training for everything--specificity is important. So, you are right when you say that the long run is an important part of marathon training. But let's take your reasoning about specificity to the most absurd conclusion: the most specific thing to do in training for the marathon would be to run 26.2 miles every day at marathon pace. 

         

        But why don't we do that? Because it would break us down. So, in training, we have to take smaller pieces and put them together over a long time, build capacities slower. We have to break the marathon down into its components: the pace, the distance, the strength, the fueling, the resistance to pounding, etc. We work on these individually in pieces through the week. Instead of running 26.2 miles at marathon pace every day, we get to the point where in the course of a week we can run 50 miles or 60 miles or even 100 miles, with perhaps 20% of that faster than or at marathon pace. We never run the marathon distance at marathon pace, but we end up training the body to do this by breaking up the different demands of the marathon over the week and keeping these aspects stimulated in a way that we can absorb and profit from.

         

        Now, coming to your question about long runs: long runs are not great training tools because the stress is too high. The body doesn't respond well to the stimulus. The long run breaks you down more than it builds you up, especially if you haven't been running much. So, we need to prepare the body to be able to benefit from the long run. That's the role of weekly mileage--to prepare the body of the runner to be able to benefit maximally from the specific training of the long runs in the final phase of training and then eventually for the demands of the race itself.

         

        What benefit do you get from running more weekly mileage? A stronger heart, more developed capillaries, better fuel delivery, stronger muscles and tendons, a nervous system more attuned to the demands of running. These are the SPECIFIC things you will need to run well at the marathon distance. And you get them all from that daily hour run, done in a way that stimulates these capacities but in a way that you can grow from them.

         

        Add into that weekly regimen a longer run once every other week and you will also be training for the "race-specific" demands of the event.

         

        Good luck!

          I can see why you get injured, your LR is too much of your weekly mileage.

           

          +1

           

          Also, I'd recommend running more frequently, if at all possible. You might get there on four days a week, but I think your risk for injury is very high.

           

          If you want a good breakdown on the importance of a large base of miles (developed appropriately), check out the Noakes book. In short, it takes time (and miles) to strengthen your skeletal system--much more time (and many more miles) than it takes to strengthen your muscular system.

          It should be mathematical, but it's not.


          Feeling the growl again

            In order to reap the benefits of the long run, you have to be in condition to handle it and respond positively.  Training like you are now, you are essentially in survival mode for that long run.  By running more miles per week, you are actually reaping training benefits from it rather than surviving it.

             

            Perhaps it seems counter-intuitive to you, but your logic is essentially backwards.

             

            Training specificity does NOT mean we copy what will happen in the race each day.  It means we put together the appropriate pieces to allow us to perform optimally over a given race distance.

             

            Milers do not go out and run an all-out mile each day.  They run a lot of miles slower than race pace, and sections (say quarter mile repeats) faster than race pace.  Each plays their part in leading to optimal performance.

             

            By throwing so much effort into your long run each week, you are essentially popping one workout per week -- one run at a slow pace -- with very little meaningful in between.  You are doing little or nothing faster than race pace to reap the benefits there are to be had from that type of work.  You'd be better off to stop trying to extend your long run and put that energy into running more and more consistently throughout the week.

             

            As others have said, it is no surprise you are getting injured when you're not exposing yourself to a consistent training load to strengthen the body, but exposing it to increasing stress from longer and longer runs.

            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

             

              Hi guys,

              I've been running for several years, and I'm thinking about doing a marthon and have a question of two.

              In the past I've done some halfs without training very much, adding a 9-10 mile long run to my routine two 
              months before the race, then finishing the half in decent time but struggling a bit. I know the marathon is a 
              completely different animal though and it requires a lot more training. I've been upping my long run gradually,
              hitting 17.5 miles this morning, and I'm just now reading all the stuff I probably should have read two months ago. 

              So, I've had knee problems in the past from overuse when I ran too many miles, and I'm hoping to avoid that. 
              Accordingly, I've dropped my running days to 4 per week, with three 5-mile runs and then my long run. I've been
              reading though (mostly on running forums, including this one) that what matters is not neccesairly the length of the 
              long run, at least after a certain point, but your overall miles per week. I guess this is to get your body prepared for
              the high mileage of the marthon. This has me a bit worried, since my mileage is only 15 per week plus whatever my 
              long run is that week (so 32.5 this week, but it won't get much higher than that unless I change the mileage on my 
              short days or add more running days). So I'm wondering, what specifically is the purpose of adding miles to your 
              short runs or running more frequently? It seems logical that building a base by running semi-frequently is important, 
              but after that, you are basically training for one long run. So it makes sense (superficially) that the most important 
              thing is to come close to replicating the run you are going to do when you do the marathon. What benefit do you get 
              from running more miles on non-long days? 
               
              If it's important, I'm running 7:30ish miles on my short days without pushing too hard and then about 8:30 on my long days.
              Thnaks.

              Well, Luke, let me ask YOU this question then.  How in the world did you write double-spaced? ;o)  Just kidding.  

               

              Okay, here's the serious question; you said; "...you are basically training for one long run.  So it makes sense that the most important thing is to come close to replicating the run you are going to do..."  How do you know "how often you run" becomes important?  I mean, with this logic, all you need to do, to do 26.2 miles, is to run 26.2 miles once...well, when?  A month before?  Two months before?  Or a week before?  

               

              The most important thing is to "build up your base fitness".  Screw 26 miles.  To be honest with you, you are probably far from even attempting to attempt a 26-miler with that sort of "base".  You can probably do it--it seems like you're still a young fit guy who can easily whip 7:30 pace.  Those who can do that sort of things often get this illusion that they can do almost anything without actually working at it and earning it.  Far too many people today seem to get this illusion.  At Boston this spring, I was at Runner's World panel and one of the speakers was Dave McGilvery (spelling?).  His was one of the most inspiring stories (to me) that it got me choked up and teary eyes.  He tried his first Boston when he was 17 but, at that time, you have to be 18 to enter.  He entered it anyways.  His grandpa suggested him not to; but nevertheless, he told his grandson that he'd be waiting for him at, I can't remember, 20-mile mark.  Well, he didn't even make it.  There was some funny parts about it after that--something about him "disappearing" because his parents didn't know where he was....blah, blah, blah...  At any rate, his grandpa told him that he "didn't earn the right" to be in it; he was too young and under-trained.  So he trained the whole year, getting ready for next year's Boston.  Well, his grandpa passed away.  So he decided to run this one for his grandpa.  Well, right before 20-mile mark, he stopped and sat down, thinking he failed...again.  Well, what do you know?  He sat down right by the cemetery, by his grandpa's tomb stone.  He picked up himself, dragged his tired body to the finish line.  But the point is; you really need to earn some things.  You feel you're invincible, you can easily whip through 5 miles of 7:30 with no effort, get it up to 18-miler and no problem.  Well, us experienced old-farts think that the important thing is "filling the gap".  You need "little often than one big effort here and there"; why?  Because nothing worthwhile comes easily; sometimes you need discipline and be humble and work your way up gradually.  You can throw a 20-miler a few weeks before the marathon and feel invincible because you managed it and you can head to the start and drag your tired body to the finish line in 5:30.  Well, you'll be a proud marathon runner and you'll think, well, 26-miles is nothing...  And you can join co-workers of one of my runners; she complains that several "men" at her school (she's a teacher) always tell her that, if they train properly, they can run faster than she has (3:24).  Well, but they don't, so they won't.

               

              Some people may be able to just jump all the way to the top of the ladder.  But the proper way to climb the ladder is by step by step.  Why?  Because that's the proper way to progress.  I'm sure you won't be happy with this answer.  But I felt your question illogical and dishonest and, well, sorry but, stupid.  It is perhaps the product of today's "too much information on-line" and maybe somewhat fast-food mentality.  But, what do I know?  I'm just a grouchy old fart! ;o)

              luke77


                Thanks to all you guys for the detailed responses. And sorry about the formattingSmile I get tired of writing things and then having them get deleted when the page doesn't load properly or something, so I write longer things in a text editor...but the formatting doesn't always work out.

                 

                So anyway, what you guys are saying makes sense. The reason for my somewhat sparse training isn't laziness. Back when I started running (years ago) I went six days a week, and when I trained for a longer distance I just converted one of those days into a long run. This is when I got 'injured' - when I started increasing mileage significantly while still running 6 days a week. I put injured in quotes because when my knees started hurting significantly I would always stop, not wanting to risk permanent injury. Granted I only tried increasing mileage like this maybe three times...after a while I kind of figured that my body just isn't built to run a marathon, at least not without risking injury. 

                 

                So that's what has me only running 4 days a week these days - hoping that the extra rest days will give my body more time to recover and less pounding on my joints. I'm just scared that if I do increase my mileage by adding a couple more running days and increasing mileage on hose days the same thing will happen again. I guess I can give it a try again - I can do a marathon up until about april so even if I start hurting I can back off a bit and go back to a reduced-load training plan. 

                 

                What about cross-training - maybe adding 2 or 3 days of biking and keeping my 4 days of running? I know this will improve my cardio but will I be missing out on many other benefits? Other suggestions for avoiding (what I think are) overuse injuries to the knees? Icing? Advil?....

                 

                Many thanks again.

                  Hi Luke,

                   

                  +1 to the above posts.  Good stuff there.

                   

                  I wouldn't worry about a big increase in weekly mileage if you run more days.  I think the suggestion was to scale back the long run, so you'd just be spreading those miles from the long run to a fifth day per week of shorter running.

                   

                  I transitioned last year from running 3-4 days per week to 5 days, then 6, then 6-7.  With a rich history of injury, I was similarly worried about being sidelined (yet again) by stupidity and my less than optimal musculoskeletal system.  If you accept that you won't get there in a couple weeks, then take it slow, listen to your body, and things will work out over the longer term.

                   

                  On the sore knees, who can really say over the Internet what your specific cause of knee pain is.  I'd mention that my knees seem to bother me less when I'm doing things to strengthen my quads and glutes (strength training, cycling) and more when I don't have the arch support that my flat feet seem to prefer.  YMMV, obviously, but it's somewhere to look.

                  “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman

                    Thanks to all you guys for the detailed responses. And sorry about the formattingSmile I get tired of writing things and then having them get deleted when the page doesn't load properly or something, so I write longer things in a text editor...but the formatting doesn't always work out.

                     

                    So anyway, what you guys are saying makes sense. The reason for my somewhat sparse training isn't laziness. Back when I started running (years ago) I went six days a week, and when I trained for a longer distance I just converted one of those days into a long run. This is when I got 'injured' - when I started increasing mileage significantly while still running 6 days a week. I put injured in quotes because when my knees started hurting significantly I would always stop, not wanting to risk permanent injury. Granted I only tried increasing mileage like this maybe three times...after a while I kind of figured that my body just isn't built to run a marathon, at least not without risking injury. 

                     

                    So that's what has me only running 4 days a week these days - hoping that the extra rest days will give my body more time to recover and less pounding on my joints. I'm just scared that if I do increase my mileage by adding a couple more running days and increasing mileage on hose days the same thing will happen again. I guess I can give it a try again - I can do a marathon up until about april so even if I start hurting I can back off a bit and go back to a reduced-load training plan. 

                     

                    What about cross-training - maybe adding 2 or 3 days of biking and keeping my 4 days of running? I know this will improve my cardio but will I be missing out on many other benefits? Other suggestions for avoiding (what I think are) overuse injuries to the knees? Icing? Advil?....

                     

                    Many thanks again.

                    You were being a good sport while I was being a bit of an a$$... ;o)

                     

                    Here's the thing; getting some sort of discomfort may not necessarily always be a beginning of "injury".  You get dumped with snow and you get out for the first time of the year and shovel for an hour; your shoulders will get sore.  It's not because you are getting injured but it's because you hadn't strengthened your shoulders and, after a long lay-off, you all of a sudden put your shoulder through a stressful event.  This is the breaking-phase of adaptation process.  You take "recovery" phase and your body will adjust and get stronger.  Of course, if you decide to hire some young high school kid to do the shoveling for you for the rest of the winter; then next winter when it snows again and you get out and shovel yourself again, your shoulders will get very sore again.  It is because you took waaaaay too long of a recovery phase that you would have lost all the training effect and your shoulder had gone back to where they were before the stressful event.  It's a simple "use it or lose it" principle.  

                     

                    So, as far as I'm concerned, this is what you've been doing; you put your body through a very stressful event (a long run) and your knees start to hurt.  Deciding that you were getting "injured", you took it easy for a few days, or took more "off" days; during which time you probably gone back to your initial fitness level; in other words, you probably had lost good chunk of training effect.  Now realistically, you won't lose training effect THAT quickly.  But the point is; somewhere along the way (in the last 30 years), some media had decided to ingrain the idea that if you run too much, you'll get injured.  And this line of "too much" had become somewhere around "more than 3 days a week" and/or "more than 30-miles-a-week".  So far too many "beginners" had shied away from getting stronger and fitter and a better runner, instead, settled for making themselves "ill-prepared" to even consider running a marathon; yet, they do and ended up getting more hurt or settled for something like 5- or 6-hour marathon.  That's fine.  It seems many "runners" don't even seem to "like" running anyways and it's their choice.  

                     

                    Knee pain can be caused by various reasons but probably one of the most common ones, for those who started running and started to extend their long run when their body is not quite ready for it, is simply quads getting tired and putting undue stress where the quads are attached to the bones which happens to be around the knee.  Depending on, again, various reasons, it could very well be a blossoming injury; but it could also be very easily "a growing pain" (remember the shoulder pain for shoveling?).  It could very well be a very smart move to take it easy but it could also very well be a stepping backward and never allowing your body to be the level of fitness that your true potential could promise you to reach.  Seems to happen a lot but they also seem to like to justify it by saying; "everybody is a winner regardless of where he/she finishes" or "we don't care how fast or slow we are"...  Personally, I don't give a damn how slow or fast a person is; but the point is, people get hurt unnecessarily because they are doing something wrongly.  One of the easiest ways to get hurt is to skip the steps and try to jump to the top of the ladder.

                      Great suggestions in this thread.

                       

                      One more thing jumped out at me:  When you said, "I've had knee problems in the past from overuse when I ran too many miles", that reflects the old and common misperception of the body as a mechanical thing that will wear out with overuse.  We aren't robots with steel bearings at the knees; our joints, when treated well, will strengthen, adapt, and grow rather than wear out.  As to treating them well, really pay attention to the shoes you are using.  My personal experience has been that ill-fitting shoes are bad, and "motion-control" shoes are very bad.  It's our feet and ankles that need to be controlling our motion, and shoes that lock our feet into artificial positions are hard on our knees.

                      Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.


                      Tomorrow will be worse

                        Great suggestions in this thread.

                         

                        ... "motion-control" shoes are very bad.  It's our feet and ankles that need to be controlling our motion, and shoes that lock our feet into artificial positions are hard on our knees.

                         

                        Totally agree with this! I started getting ankle problems when I bought shoes from a clearance rack. They were NB, looked to have loads of cushion, where could I go wrong? Turns out, the sole was too flat and rigid and kept forcing my ankle at an odd angle. And that was just casual running, not training-level mileage

                          Rule of thumb:

                           

                          Shoe with too big heel = knee issues.

                           

                          Shoe with too low heel = achilles issues.

                            Rule of thumb:

                             

                            Shoe with too big heel = knee issues.

                             

                            Shoe with too low heel = achilles issues.

                            Not necessarily....  Seems logic (yeah, Mr. Running Logic guy!! ;o)) but not necessarily.  For one, my Achilles problem, which I had to live with for more than 5 years, went away when I switched to low-profile low heel minimalist shoes.  You may face initial "growing pain" at first but, in the end, it is not true.  If anything, shoes with "too big heel" would eventually cause Achilles problem because that'll shorten your Achilles.

                             

                            I know what you're trying to say here; but that's a bit too hasty.  It's not so much of shoes with too big heel would cause knee problem; we know that it's more of a heel-striking running form, which is enhanced greatly by shoes with too much cushion.  I'd say shoes with too big heel would actually cause shortening of Achilles tendon and eventually cause Achilles problem.  Also, shoes with too big heel tend to have so much junk in between (to stabilize the instability caused by too much cushion) that could lead to Plantar Fasciitis.  

                              Sure, it's not necessarily the case, but I still think it's a good rule of thumb. ;o)

                               

                              My achilles problems emerged when I ran too much in minimalist shoes--actually some ASICS from Japan. They went away when after 4 years of waiting for my achilles to lengthen, I just went back to a shoe with a bigger heel (and started wearing a dress shoe with a bit of a heel.) I am not so sure about your theory of lengthening the achilles through running, especially if it is already in a chronic state of pain.

                               

                              Nobby, I know that you have struggled with achilles issues, but it seems to be that you have always run in Japanese-style minimalist sort of shoes, so I am confused when you say you switched to a lower profile shoe. Did you spend some time in a more traditional trainer before you contracted your AT?

                               

                              Maybe you should have paid more attention to my rule of thumb and you wouldn't have had those achilles problems to begin with. ;o)

                                Nobby, I know that you have struggled with achilles issues, but it seems to be that you have always run in Japanese-style minimalist sort of shoes, so I am confused when you say you switched to a lower profile shoe. Did you spend some time in a more traditional trainer before you contracted your AT?

                                Actually, yes.  I wore typical American shoes for a while and that's when I got most injury problems.  The truth, with me, is when I went BACK to Japanese ASICS that my Achilles finally started to get better.  Of course, that's not the ONLY thing I did so I can't really single out...

                                 

                                When Yoko Shibui was training in Flagstaff, one evening, she and I.....  Oh, no, not that story!  Greg McMillan came to visit the house we were staying.  I have a picture of Greg holding up one of the thinnest adidas shoes he had which he only wore to walk around but not to run in--he does NOT believe in minimalist shoes.  Both Yoko and her coach, Nabe, trash his talk and tried to convince him that he should go minimalist shoes.  So here it is, Greg is holding up his shoes and Yoko is pinching her nose, waving the "smell" away from her.  Good times...

                                 

                                I guess my point was; including myself saying minimalist shoes, it is so tricky that we really can't say "rule of thumb".  In fact, I had never (I think) told any of my runners to go minimalist.  I may have suggested or pointed out, but never told them to switch.  And one of my favorite shoes right now is ASICS Sky Speed which is NOT minimalist shoes at all.  We'll see if I get hurt in my Achilles next year or so...  The thing is; I just cannot wear one of those "typical thick and bulky American training shoes" because I feel so far off the ground and actually do feel unstable.  But Sky Speed feel different.  I can't explain; but so I wear them.  I do take cautious, however, to make sure I switch back to minimalist shoes periodically to "stretch out".

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