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