I mentioned it briefly on the blog a few weeks ago, but never really elaborated on my plan (or experiment, if you will). I’ve been running 55-60 mpw comfortably for the past few months and have been wondering how my legs would respond to an increase in mileage. The Philly half is 6 weeks away, so this seemed like a good time to try running 80 miles in a week.
But zomg, isn’t 80 miles a lot? Especially when you’re not even training for a full marathon?
This definitely isn’t something I just decided to do on a whim – over the past 5 years or so I’ve been gradually increasing my mileage. In college, I regularly ran about 40-45 miles per week, increasing to around 50 by the Spring track season of my senior year. Back in 2008 while training for my first marathon, I reached 60 miles for the first time. And then last October, I maxed out at 72 miles. And I’m definitely looking at this week as an experiment. Will I run 80 miles regularly? Probably not – it takes up a lot of time! But I am willing to do whatever it takes to race well in the Philly half next month and with 6 weeks to go, now seems like a good time to amp things up. Worst case scenerio – my legs feel like %^$# by week’s end and I scale things back for a week or two. Best case scenerio – I alternate high mileage weeks (70-80 miles) with lower mileage weeks (50-60 miles) for the rest of my training cycle.
I’m a huge Pete Pfitzinger fan, author of the classic training book “Advanced Marathoning”, and I’ve found his lab reports to be not only helpful, but easy to understand (especially for a non-scientist!). In his lab report on increasing mileage (How High Should You Go?), he enumerates the following positive physical adaptations that result from running more:
Increased capacity to store glycogen (carbohydrate)
Improved ability to utilise fats
Increased capillary density in your muscles
More mitochondria in your muscles
Beyond the exercise science explanations, I’ve found through personal experience that increasing mileage works. To become a better runner, you have to run. If you’re injury prone, that’s another story, but you probably aren’t going to nab PRs if you’re replacing runs with yoga and bootcamp classes. These types of exercises certainly have their place – improved strength and flexibility are important! – but if your goal is to become a better/faster runner, personally I feel that miles are the best way to do it.
Here’s how the week has played out thus far (and what I plan to do):
Monday, October 3 – 11 miles a.m.
Tuesday, October 4 – 4 miles a.m., 9 miles p.m. including a track workout of 4 x 1200m @ 4:57, 4:49, 4:48, 4:47 (~6:25 pace)
Wednesday, October 5 – 12 miles run commute to work
Thursday, October 6 – 10 miles a.m., 4 miles p.m.
Friday, October 7 – 7 miles a.m., easy
Saturday, October 8 – 16 miles a.m., long run
Sunday, October 9 – 7 miles a.m., easy
As of Thursday morning, I’ve got 46 miles down, 34 to go!
I’ve received some inquiries on how the week has been going so far –
How much are you sleeping? Eating? To be honest, I haven’t really noticed too much of a change. I’ve noticed that I’m a little more tired than usual, but I’m still getting about 7-8 hours of sleep a night. As for eating, of course I’m eating more than I would if I were running 40 miles or 20 miles or not at all, but the types of food hasn’t changed – just the quantity. I’m eating bigger breakfasts, bigger lunches, more snacks in the afternoon, etc. I’m pretty much just eating whatever I crave and thankfully I’ve been gravitating towards healthier stuff. I actually decided to have Fage greek yogurt and berries instead of ice cream the other night. Strange for me. But you know what? If I want a giant cupcake from Crumbs, I will eat it. Running 80 miles a week averages out to about 11-12 miles a day – there’s certainly room for some treats!
Have you become a complete hermit? Running that much must mean you have no life! Lolz, it is true that I do enjoy chill evenings at home on my couch, but I promise I’m not super boring. On Monday, I met Page and Lindsay for margaritas and Mexican food at Dos Caminos, I had a work related cocktail party on Wednesday evening, and tonight I’m headed to an evening event at Lululemon. It’s definitely a struggle sometimes to fit it all in – working 40-50 hours a week, commuting to the office (45 mins each way), blogging, making time for friends, etc. but training is something I enjoy doing, so it never seems like too much of a sacrifice. Some days it means waking up at 5:30am for a run or not getting back to my apartment till 9 pm, but I’m okay with that. I’m at a point in my life where I’m only responsible for myself (no husband! no kids!), so I feel very lucky to have the time to do exactly what I want to do.
Spicy food = spicy red cheeks, apparently.
I also had a deliciously crispy and awesome pork fajita dish (cochinita pibil), but alas my iphone ate the photo (I do not blame it, yummm), so I am using a stand-in that I found on the Vegetarian Foodie. My margarita was a little weak, but this pork dish was a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Go get it.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got. No big cooking projects this week because I’ve been, you know, running and stuff. I will report back this weekend on how the miles are progessing (think positive thoughts for my legs!).
Do you have any mileage goals for this week? For this year? Just a few years ago, I couldn’t even fathom running 40 miles in a week, but you’ve gotta start somewhere!