Posted on the Ultralist and reprinted here with kind permission.
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013 17:10:00 -0500
From: Shannon McGinn
Subject: Re: A question about mileage and what I might do about it
I haven’t read all the responses, so I apologize about any duplication of ideas.
Last year I ran 3455 miles. My injury rate was low. I strained my plantar fascia once pretty bad in the middle of a 15k. I still ran every day (at least one painful shuffling mile) and got through it just fine. Set all my PR’s after healing up. I had more issues, including chronic PF, when I ran less.
I achieved a high mileage year by running very slow most of the time, running very fast sometimes (35 races in the year), and doubling up my runs as much as I could. That worked well for me.
I ran a few miles before work, a few after work, and when possible I would get dropped at work in the morning and run the 8 miles home with my pack of clothing on my back. I loved that! Traffic here stinks so it added 20 minutes to my travel time to do it on foot, but gave me more time once home to do other things.
I have two jobs now. One that is exactly 26.2 miles away and it is very tempting… except the commute is all highways. The other job is 16 miles away and that one involves a lot of evening shifts where I get off at 8:30pm. I would get home too late if I ran home. But I do get to run at lunch when I need to. I also worked very hard over the past two years to rearrange my work life to allow me to maximize my training time. I found that really, 14 hours per week is the maximum time I can spend training. After that amount I start to feel too beat up.
I do many of my long runs with a team of cancer-fundraising marathoners where I am a team training captain (Team in Training). Each weekend when I am not racing, I show up and find out that morning who is running the furthest. There are about 4 cycles of marathoners in training so mostly I get 10-20 milers. They run at very slow paces. I try to hook up with the fastest of the bunch – the fastest guy was just barely sub-9. Most are 10-11:00 paced runners. I usually start an hour early and run 5-6 miles at my pace also just sub-9 on the trail. Then run the last 10-15 miles at their pace.
I think people underestimate how strong someone actually gets from slow training. I believe that much of what we think of as natural speed in racing is actually more about built up strength. Slow training tends to make me very strong and minimizes my injury rate. That has translated into some faster race times for me (at least at the short distances… like 50k, marathon, and under). I just set a 5k PR as well which was awesome to do on slower training.
I was a middle distance runner in high school, so it only makes sense that I am gravitating toward the middle distances now. In 2013 I hope to keep up the mileage that I ran in 2012 while testing out how I do between 6 hours and 100k. I will save the long distance running for later when I can get my mileage per week average a little closer to the race mileage of the longer stuff. 3455 per year averages out to what seems to be about perfect mileage for 100k races … in my mind, at least. 🙂
Shannon McGinn is a running coach based in and around Woodbridge, NJ. Checkout Shannon’s blog, Creating Momentum for more ideas and thoughts that inspired “High Mileage And Low Injury Rate”.