mileage and first weeks of boston training

When I was initially thinking about how many miles I would ideally run this training cycle, I thought of really large, ambitious numbers to fit my large, ambitious goals. Maybe one million miles? After all, I knew that out of the ten marathons I had an actual training cycle for (at least 12 weeks) and were not just another marathon I ran the following month, there was a strong correlation between the number of miles I averaged per week and my finishing time.

timeVSmileageObviously this is not a purely causal relationship and there are many factors at play. A definite time trend exists. For my first marathon I had no experience and as time has gone on I have learned more about racing and my body has become more efficient at running so that I probably would perform better even on the lower mileage (Maybe. Although there were other factors at play in Hamilton such as the fact that I was limping after the downhill, I find it eerie how well the result fits this model). Variation also exists on the difficulty of the marathon courses, the weather, quality of training, how one is feeling race day, etc. Despite all these variations I still believe there is large benefit to running more miles in order to reach one’s potential as a runner.

Jack Daniels has a nice graph in his book “Daniels’ Running Formula” that illustrates that as people increase their average weekly mileage, they achieve more of their running potential. Sadly diminishing returns exist in this relationship. Someone will get much more of a benefit from going from 20 to 30 miles per week than going from 80 to 90 miles per week.
daniels_diminishingreturnsAccording to Daniels my mileage is still at a point where I am making fairly large gains from increasing it.

However, I have decided to play it fairly safe. If all goes well with the schedule I have planned, I will hopefully average about 52 miles per week which is about a 5 mile increase and about the increase I have been doing each year since I began running. I also plan on doing more focused quality training than usual. Miles are not everything. I think my plan is more than sufficient to get me to where I want to be in April.

Now for a brief recap of the first three weeks of training. After all that talk about mileage my first week came in at a whopping 16 miles. One day there was a snowstorm and the roads were treacherous. Then I got sick and decided it was just more important to get better. I did get to do a snowy track workout at my high school on Christmas Day though so at least I got in some quality work.

snowytrackWeek 2 and 3 have been much better and I ran 57.5 miles and 64 miles, respectively. This week is a much welcome stepback week.

Outside of running I also had the chance to go on a trip to see my friends in Swinburne Island during a NYC Audubon Winter EcoCruise. We saw around 30 harbor seals, but they got scared pretty quickly and jumped into the water.

EcoCruiseSealI am not sure why they were so scared. Maybe it was because I was bright blue. Next time.

What are your thoughts on mileage? How much do you usually average in a training cycle? How is your training going?

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7 Responses to mileage and first weeks of boston training

  1. Before moving to NYC, I averaged about 50 miles a week. Now I just don’t have time for that so do 35-40. I do think slightly more than that is better and helps improve performance. Sounds like you have a good plan. :)

  2. I actually don’t do much running, but I love reading about other people’s training plans! Good luck with your training this time around.

  3. the more, the better! of course, with some exceptions. i saw big gains with racing last year just by keeping my base mileage at bit higher than i did the previous year. the rule of specificity at its best :)

  4. Alyssa says:

    Gosh, I just love your posts. I wish I was good with numbers and tracking stuff… and then being able to analyze it later. You inspire me.

  5. lizzyj1305 says:

    I am so excited for Boston…90-days?! I hope we get to meet there!
    each marathon I’ve done has gone through a progression of me becoming more and more able to handle and recover from high-mileage. My first marathon I ran ~50-60 mpw, and my most recent was ~70-80 mpw (2-yrs apart, and my most recent was 10-min faster)
    I definitely agree with most of Daniel’s ideas and theories pertaining to running!
    the icy track looks so FRIGID! stay warm and enjoy the Boston training cycle!! :)

  6. Lauren says:

    This chart is amazing!! Can you come and make one for me, please?? :)

    For my first several marathons, the increase in average mileage definitely led to faster times. But the other variable that has come into play (at least in my own training) has been quality of the miles. I had a huge breakthrough when I stopped increasing my average mileage and instead focused on more quality runs/workouts. I do think I’m at the point now where the quality isn’t good enough anymore – I need to add in more volume again. But I think what you said about your body becoming more efficient must have something to do with it. Sometimes you reach a plateau in your racing and the only way to get over it is to change things up…whether that means adding in volume or adding more speed.

    Anyway, I love post like this because they get me thinking about my own training. Sounds like you have a great plan for Boston training!

  7. I love your graphs :) I agree that more mileage usually equals better/faster racing and improvements. I ran my highest mileage last training cycle and PR’d by a lot. And I loved it too! I think as long as you can avoid injury, lots of miles is the way to go. But it depends on what the body can handle, you know? I’d like to hit 70 this training cycle, not sure if that will happen now though!

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