Into the belly of the beast

The title of this post isn’t referring to my insatiable hunger, but rather to this week’s monster mileage. I’m on week 16 of my training plan and by Sunday I hope to have 70+ miles under my belt. I’ve run a few 65-ish mile weeks, but have never cracked the 70 mile barrier. After reading Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning, I really started thinking about the positive effects high mileage can have on competitive performance. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to run high mileage in order to have a successful race, but in my case, I think it’s been a boon to my training. There are many theories on the ideal amount of mileage and your own personal number will depend on race goals, injury history, lifestyle, etc., but if you’re looking to make a mileage jump, take the following into consideration: 

Positive adaptations that result from running more miles (from the Pfizinger Lab Report):

  • Increased capacity to store glycogen (carbohydrate)
  • Improved ability to utilise fats
  • Increased capillary density in your muscles
  • More mitochondria in your muscles
  • Improved mental toughness

Increasing mileage can be done in a number of ways. If your mileage goal is above 60 miles a week, it may be beneficial to incorporate doubles into your routine. I know that a morning 7-miler and an pre-dinner 4-miler is a lot more managable than an 11-mile run all at once. If you’re new to doubles, start with an easy 20 minute “shake out” run the morning before an evening track workout or tempo run. Surprisingly, this always makes my legs feel less lethargic! You can also incorporate more cross-training into your schedule. Instead of running twice a day, replace the easy run with some time on the elliptical. Finally, try adding just a few minutes to each of your weekday runs. Before I started marathon training, 4-5 miles was my usual run distance. Now, 8 or 9 miles is the new “normal”. I gradually built up my mileage over the summer and now an hour+ weekday run is no longer so daunting.

The plan for this week:

  • Monday, October 11 – 8 miles after work on the bridle path
  • Tuesday, October 12 – 5 x 1k @ 5k pace w/ 400m recovery (6 miles total), 3.5 mile easy run after work
  • Wednesday, October 13 – 9 miles easy before work
  • Thursday, October 14 – 3 mile morning shake out run, 4 mile evening tempo run @ half marathon pace plus warm-up/cool-down (10 miles total)
  • Friday, October 15 – 7 miles easy before work
  • Saturday, October 16 – 21 mile long run, finishing at marathon pace (7:30 pace)
  • Sunday, October 17 – 4.5 miles easy
  • Total: 72 miles

Note: Monday, October 18th will absolutely be a rest day. I’m trying to figure out a fun reward for that day. Pedicure? New running clothes?

72 miles = lots of eating. You don’t even want to know how much $$ I spend at the grocery store. Luckily, I’ve been receiving a bounty of fresh, fall vegetables courtesy of my CSA. I gathered some odds and ends in my pantry and used them to create this fall dish –

Mediterranean Baked Acorn Squash (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and pitted
  • butter
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of tumeric and cinnamon, to taste
  • 1/3 cup dry cous cous
  • 1/3 cup of water or broth
  • feta and parsley to garnish

Directions:

  • Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pot saute garlic, onions, and carrots in olive oil until soft (~5 minutes), add dried cranberries and spices
  •  Add 1/3 cup of water (or broth) to veggie mixture and bring to boiling. Add in cous cous, remove from heat, and cover.
  • Allow cous cous to absorb water (~5 minutes) and then fluff the mixture with a fork.
  • When squash is finished baking, rub the inside with butter or olive oil, and fill with cous cous-veggie mixture.
  • Garnish with feta cheese and parsley!

Note: olives and chickpeas would make nice additions to this dish!

Doing high mileage? Check out this interesting essay on running doubles from the Running Times website.

Question: Have you ever done a double (a.k.a. two runs/two workouts in one day)?

Also, I mentioned this on twitter, but I just remembered that I have a bag of nutritional yeast. What should I use it for? Need ideas!

  • Oooh, that acorn squash looks scrumptious! 😀

    I definitely think you should treat yourself to some new running gear. A little pressie for yourself always makes things more fun! So either new running clothes, or perhaps a really decadent dessert. Or both!

  • Shady

    I love nooch on popcorn with olive oil, chilli powder and a bit of salt. Or use it on rice with soy sauce and olive oil for a delicious, rich tasting side dish. I’ll also sprinkle it on roasted veggies, like sweet potatoes, again with chili powder and salt.

  • nice week ahead!! high mile’in 🙂 i had this thought: “that’s a lot of showers” 🙂 good luck with your running!

    yay nutritional yeast. i also put it on popcorn w/ evoo (mmm). can make a cheesy dip or pasta sauce w/ it combined with hummus + lemon juice + evoo (there’s a bazillion combinations you could try), i’ve also mixed it w/ cottage cheese to make a cheesy spinach casserole. and lastly i have mixed it straight up with almond milk and surprisingly loved it. be brave 🙂

  • 70 miles, go get it! You rock 🙂

    I have no idea about nutritional yeast but I do enjoy doubles once or twice a week. Adding an easy 3-4 miler in the AM is a nice way to start the day!

  • You should try mixing nutritional yeast mixed with hummus and a bit of water as a dip or spread. It’s so good! I’ve never ran twice in one day but have worked out in the am and pm. It can really take it out of you.

  • Wow 7 straight days of running! Don’t you feel like you are always running? What do you think about for all that time? I did a few two-a-days before my wedding, but actually found that the second one was not good. I had the wrong mentality of “I don’t need to hold this pose that long, I already worked out once.” It wasn’t for me. And I ended up eating more with the wrong mentality of two workouts = more food! Pre-wedding not a good idea. But wow for over 70 miles!

  • I love running high mileage. I take mondays completely off from running every week, but am able to get in good high mileage through multiple doubles. I really do love doubles. Especially this year, I have been pleasantly surprised just how high of mileage I can sustain and feel good and healthy. It’s awesome.

    I hear you on the grocery bills. The two of us are both high mileage runners and chefs so we spend a lot of money on food, but you have to fuel yourself right!

  • I love how a really short (2 miles!) morning double makes me feel so much more loose in the afternoon. By the way-that running times essay was just a story about how a lady likes doubles-here’s a better article for those interested in WHY to do doubles: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–13199-0,00.html

  • holy miles, woman!

    i’m really commenting because i wanted to make that statement.

    anyway. i like nooch with runny eggs (how un-vegan of me) – i think i did something one time involving baby potatoes, spinach, fresh oregano, and marinara sauce that i baked in the oven, then topped it with a couple eggs and nooch and baked it again until the eggs were cooked but still runny. sounds weird, but tasted good.

  • I love doubles, and did them so much for my college sport that it actually took a little bit of adjusting to having “one workout per day” be the norm. Sometimes I wish I weren’t such a workout/mileage hog (with the ensuing hunger) — I mean, we can’t be expected to fuel all of this activity with junk food — so we’ve got to spring for good food! And LOTS of it! I feel your pain on those heinously large grocery bills.

  • *monster month* WOOOOOOOOOOOOOT. I’m with you on thriving on higher mileage. i lived on doubles over the summer. i’m jealous of your week coming up. as much as i say that i want to kick back and relax i’m always itching to go hard 🙂

  • Kristan

    This recipe looks so delicious! I have to try it. Good luck with the 72 mile week, especially on the last long run!

  • I don’t understand everything in the Lab Report, but WOW, it sounds major. Your mileage is so impressive! I say go for the pedi AND new running clothes on the 18th 😉 Ohh and that squash looks so purty!

  • good luck with your miles this week! Sounds ambitious but absolutely attainable for you! The acorn squash looks fantastic. I had some over the weekend that my brother in law made and now I can’t wait to try baking one myself!

    I’ve done a few doubles, but not many. I did feel great though afterwards.

  • Jen

    OMG you are amazing! I don’t think I could ever handle that high of mileage.

    I used to do 2-a-days all the time when I was triathlon training. I got burnt out pretty quickly though. But that was probably because I was training through the peak of a Charlotte summer. So it was more the heat, and not the number of workouts.

  • You are a running machine!
    What do you do about headaches before you run? Even walking around is killing my head but I have a run scheduled!

  • Dumb things first: I sprinkle nutritional yeast on salads for flavor. Someone mentioned sweet potatoes, that works, too. Also, if you are feeling intrepid, you can make seitan.

    As for your running: you are an inspiration. This week sounds monstrous (beastly?). This is the final push, right? You will birth your marathon fitness at the culmination of this week? Hopefully. And hopefully I will see you Sunday.

  • We used to do doubles in cross country in HS, but I haven’t done one since. That is some pretty amazing mileage you got going on. I upped my mileage to 45 miles a week as my high for my last training and thought that was pushing it. Ha! But I did see a huge benefit in logging more miles as well. Who knows, maybe for the next one, I’ll get about 55 a week. We’ll see…

  • First – I’m trying that squash recipe soon – looks so good!

    Second – 70 miles! That’s amazing. I would love to someday get to that point – definitely in agreement that high mileage can be really beneficial. I think your reward should definitely be a pedicure and/or a massage AND a new running item of clothing/gear 🙂 October 18 will be glorious.

  • Awesome week. High mileage for me is a shaky thing. Above 60 and I see a decline in performance – I did the Pfitz 55/18 program in 2008. No doubles for me except I tend to do night/morning if that counts;)

    Monday sounds absolutely delightful! Good luck completing the rest of this week…good stuff.

  • @Sarah (from bikingnbaking) – if I have a pre-run headache, I usually sip some caffeine. A bit of coffee can work wonders! You can also try tylenol and a big glass of water. Sometimes headaches are caused by dehydration.

  • Sprinkle it on popcorn…OR make Mae’s humnut cheese sauce and make a pizza!

  • Let’s make injera!

  • once, i ran a 5k in the morning and trained right afterward for a marathon i wanted to run. i ended up doing a total of 21 miles that day! with food stops in between 🙂

  • Megan

    you tooootaly inspired me to do a double.

    And a rainy night time workout.

    So super badass.

  • i started doing some doubles here and there (not consistently) ever since joining the team in march. I absolutely agree with you on tuesdays (shakeout run in the morning and speed at nite).

    70+ is a great milestone. I wish i oculd 70! I max out at 62-65 once in a while — usually hover around 50s!