[145] More miles, slower miles

I realize this is a questionable move, but I’m abandoning my training plan. Sort of. Let me explain.

I wrote a few weeks ago how I was concerned about the FIRST training plan leaving me without enough training mileage to finish a marathon in a time I’d be happy with. The plan worked great for my half-marathon in the fall, but I worried that I really needed to achieve higher running mileage to prepare for the marathon. Pretty much every successful marathoner that I’ve encountered has subscribed to a high-mileage training plan.

So, while I’m still sticking with the meat of the FIRST plan – three key workouts and two cross-training sessions each week – I’ve started adding more running. And all of the miles I’m adding are of the slow and easy variety. I’ve said many times over the past year that I believe every run should have a purpose, and I’m starting to realize that slow, easy runs can offer just as much benefit as a track or tempo workout.

By adding two or three more runs in every week, I might be voiding the warranty on the FIRST plan in the same way that adding aftermarket foglights to your car might nullify the service agreement. But, so far, it just feels right. It’s hard for me to be in the thick of marathon training and only running three times a week. It helps me feel more proactive and involved in my success by running more. I don’t want to arrive at the starting line on March 18 and wonder whether I had done all I needed to do.

The numbers are starting to add up. I started incorporating extra runs in the last week of December (a month where I totaled 150 running miles – probably my highest ever) and have run 71 miles in the last week and a half. The extra runs I’m adding are generally around 4 or 5 miles at a very relaxed pace – around 7:30-7:40. It’s great to have embraced the easy run – for much of the past year I was worried about making every run as fast as I could. Of course it was fine at the time because I was only running three times a week. But now running is my primary focus, rather than triathlon, so I want the bulk of my training to be pointed toward that specific discipline.

There are a few downsides to more mileage. First, my legs are more sore and tired. But that’s where the foam roller and compression sleeves I got for Christmas are going to come into the picture. And second, I’m really putting some miles on my running shoes. I love my Kinvaras, but I’ve discovered that they have a life of around 230-250 miles – far less than my previous shoes that could last closer to 400-500 miles. When you’re running 50 or more miles per week, that means you almost need a new pair of shoes each month. I’m already starting to rotate in my second pair of the training cycle (which started in December), and there are more than two months left before my race. (And, of course, I’ll want a relatively new pair on race day!)

So that’s where I am now. I feel good about the decision to add more miles to my training, even though my weekly distance still won’t approach that of the serious high-mileage runners. And I’ll still be cross-training at least twice a week and following the three key workouts prescribed by my training plan. I hope I’ve made the right decision, and if I find myself feeling more run down as the training progresses, I can always cut back on the “extra” mileage and focus on the original plan of three key workouts plus cross-training.

But what it really comes down to is the fact that I’m really loving running right now and I’m excited to get out every day, knowing that I’m building myself toward a big goal in about 10 more weeks!

Swim: 0 m/0 m

Bike: 19.7/38.2 miles

Run: 15/24 miles

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5 Responses to [145] More miles, slower miles

  1. steena says:

    You know your body best, I’m sure some recovery runs will be great in your training.
    I am weeee little sad that I won’t see the final product of the FIRST program because I did read through the book and considered trying it myself. In a sense, I’m doing a half-assed version of it.

    • traintotri says:

      I feel the same way – I’d be very interested to see it all the way through sometime. But I’m just too unsure/unconvinced to completely hand over this particular marathon cycle to the FIRST plan (I’m still doing all the FIRST workouts – just adding some extra miles). Maybe I’ll get through this marathon and then use FIRST for my next one so I can compare!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I love running mileage, but it took me over a year to go from 30 to 60 miles per week without incident. I haven’t had any amazing PRs as a result, but I do feel better during races now than I used to. You’ll probably be fine running more, but you might not see the results in your first race. Also, yeah, the running shoe thing is a bummer. I destroyed a pair of Kinvara’s in three weeks and now I only use them for walking. Asics hold up pretty well, though.

    • traintotri says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’m definitely worried about ramping up the mileage too much without getting injured. I haven’t had much luck with high mileage in the past, but the last time I tried it was four years ago and I have a lot more miles on my legs now. At this point I don’t think I’m as concerned with gaining speed as I am just feeling better all the way through the marathon. Besides, my current marathon PR isn’t going to be all that hard to beat (as long as I stay healthy)!

  3. David H. says:

    I think you’re onto something here. As you know, it’s all about finding what works. I’m a huge fan of finding training plans and then twisting it up to make it fit me.

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