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What are "Junk" miles? (Read 1518 times)


Think Whirled Peas

    I'm looking for a little help on what people refer to as "junk" miles. I'm new to running and have only been doing it since April, but I'm currently training for the Detroit HM in Oct. I'm not too concerned about wasting mileage at this point, as I've got a LONG way to go b4 my first full marathon. I would like to understand what the term means though, and whether or not the more experienced runners find it to be valid. Can you have "junk" miles? Thanks!

    Just because running is simple does not mean it is easy.

      I don't think that "junk" miles exist... weather you're running fast, or just plodding along, the point is you are still running. Even if you have to walk, it's still millage, and you should still count it. That's not to say that you should never try to fit in some faster pace running, but most of the work is done on the regular slow runs. Especially if you are new to running, it's important not to do too much too soon and get hurt (like i've done... many times....)


      You'll ruin your knees!

        Junk miles are what I do to allow me to eat junk food. Now, I am not now, nor will I ever be an elite runner. If elite is your goal, I'll let others chime in. If running a half mary or mary comfortably, targeting perhaps 2nd quartile in your age group placement...my suggestion is "don't overthink it". Just run and take what your legs give you. That should include... 1) long slow runs 2) short slow runs 3) wicked fast runs when you feel great and the weather's good 4) comfortable runs engaged in conversation with a buddy 5) quiet runs where you work on your solution to world peace 6) sloppy runs in the rain that make you feel like a kid... 7) no running when you run the risk of an imbalance of running and life/family or need a break Hmmm, seems like I am missing some... Best of luck and most of all... have fun! Lynn B MTA: #7 (now I think I agree with Jeff, Michael and Blaine)

        ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)


        Me and my gang in Breck

          I have to agree with Jacob and Lynn. Their is no such thing as junk miles. They don't exist. All miles have a purpose no matter how small. I'm not a real experienced runner and I sure that more people will chime in but it's all good to me. If I can get out the door and around the block then it's gonna be OK. Some days I can't get out the door and other days I get out the door but I can't make it to the end of my driveway because of pain or fatigue but thats not a run. Enjoy all the miles and keep up the awesome running!!!!!!!! Mark

          That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Neitzsche "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." "Dedication and commitment are what transfer dreams into reality."


          Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

            I'll be the first to disagree with everybody. Junk miles are the miles you run that do more harm than good, generally referring to very slow runs that beat your body up more than running a little quicker would and don't really serve any purpose other than to add mileage and overtraining to your training log. For new runners such as yourself, though, there are no junk miles. It's really hard (but still possible) to find junk miles until you are running at a minimum 40 or 50 miles per week, but aren't really all that common until you are in the 80+ miles per week zone.

            Run to Win
            24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)



              How do very slow runs beat up your body more than quicker runs would? This would seem to defy the laws of physics, no?

              Runners run.


              Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

                How do very slow runs beat up your body more than quicker runs would? This would seem to defy the laws of physics, no?
                Not really, no. Moving slower isn't necessarily easier; you can discover this for yourself sometime when you are "running" and somebody walks by or you start walking and it gets easier. You waste a lot of energy and take more of a pounding then you would if you just walked or if you let yourself open up into a more natural gait.

                Run to Win
                24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)



                  Walking is a more efficient mode of transportation than running, I agree. So if you're running slow enough that you could walk the same pace, you might as well walk. Walking will definitely "beat you up" less than running. But running slowly produces far less impact stress than running quickly. In fact I'll suggest that the single biggest training change most people could make that would have the biggest impact on their success in running would be to run slower on their easy days.

                  Runners run.

                    Seems to me there are three ways to think about the value of slow running in a training program. None of these ways of thinking about slow running seem to me to leave much room for the concept of 'junk miles.' 1) It seems clear that in some circumstances (i.e. overtraining, injury, boredom, etc.) taking time off from running (or running less) might be more beneficial than running slowly (or fast for that matter). Some people when feeling bad refuse to take a day off and go out and run themselves into a hole. Sometimes no running is better than slow running. 2) In other circumstances, for some people, running a smaller volume of mileage with greater intensity will yield better returns than the other way around. For these folks, doing a lot of slow running may for a variety of reasons hinder progress because they need all the energy they can get for cranking intervals and tempos. Sometimes fast running is better than slow running. 3) For others, lots of running at a slow pace may help recovery and add aerobic strength, an trying to go out and hammer runs on a daily basis will leave their bodies unable to adapt to the training load. Sometimes slow running is better than fast running. Summary: Slow running is sometimes better than fast running. Sometimes the reverse is true. And there are even moments in a training program when no running is best. Conclusion: The intelligent blending of different training intensities is the key to a successful program. That's what's at stake in any discussion of 'junk miles.' So, there is no such thing as 'junk mileage' per se. There are only appropriate and inappropriate blends of faster and slower running. The appropriate blend must be learned the way we learn everything--through trial and error, the twisted path of experience.


                    Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

                      Jeff, thanks, you did a much better job of explaining my position than I did.

                      Run to Win
                      24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)



                        I think the best definition of junk miles--and Run to Win touched on it--is miles that serve no training purpose and are done just to put a number in a log book. I agree with Jeff that fast running, slow running and no running each has its place in a training plan.

                        Runners run.

                          One thing you can say for sure. "Junk miles" is a term that is good at generating training talk. I'll say this, in an attempt to continue the conversation, the most difficult thing to figure out is how hard to run on a given day. Because of this most people, in my experience, after a beginning in which they struggle with learning how to run easily, settle into a habit of just running easy miles. Keeping that struggle alive--the struggle of the beginner experimenting with paces and pushing and all that stuff--is a crucial aspect of making progress. I think that the folks who coined the term "junk miles" were on to the fact that just running easy won't maximize anyone's potential. I think more runners make the mistake of running too slow most of the time than the other way around. But in fact, this argument runs against the terminology of "junk." The essential twist that the idea of "junk miles" disguises (and I think this is what Mike was getting at) is that the way to really inject fast running into your training may be by backing off on easy days--to run fast in training, you may have to add more "junk" to your training.


                          Think Whirled Peas

                            Thanks so much for the discussion. Being so new to the sport it can feel absolutely overwhelming with all of the information available, most of which is contradictory in nature. I'm trying to learn how to get faster, add distance, more days and lose weight all at the same time and I just get lost sometimes attempting to keep it all straight. I've been on RA now for a few months and have come to appreciate the knowledge that many runners on here have and the groups' collective experience makes learning about running a much more maneagable endevour for me. Please don't stop the discussion on my account, and thanks for putting so much thought into the responses. I just hope that I'll be able to add to the conversation in a meaninful way some day soon!!!! Big grin

                            Just because running is simple does not mean it is easy.


                            A Dance with Monkeys

                              miles that serve no training purpose and are done just to put a number in a log book.
                              But see, even those serve a purpose, you 2k boob.
                                Here's a good article on recovery runs. I agree with about 95% of it. I still have a hard time believing that recovery runs don't aid in recovery in some way since I always feel much, much better after a recovery run than before one.

                                Runners run.

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