Sunday, February 28, 2021

Miles, Miles, Miles!

Sooooo many miles. I'm officially training for the Tidewater Striders BQ Invitational Marathon on March 27. That's four weeks away! I had been targeting Myrtle Beach, but they postponed the race, so thankfully I had a backup. This meant three extra weeks of training, which I think ended up being for the best. Typically when I train for a marathon I spend 3-4 weeks in the 70's and that's about it. But with this cycle, I've been running high mileage ever since the start of the year. 

Here's a graph of my training since the year started.

This past week, I logged 79 miles, which is my third highest week of all time. My highest week of all time, 90 miles, was not during marathon training, but was done as a special challenge last spring just to see if I could hit it. 

Current Run Streak
I'm on day 66 of my current streak, which started after I took a rest day on Christmas Eve. This run streak has averaged 9.8 miles per day!  

I don't streak for the sake of streaking. Rather, my body can handle running every day without getting injured, and if I feel like I need a day off, I take it. I've been working with the same coach for over six years now, and he knows me pretty well. He knows how to push me without breaking me, and that's always a fine balance to strike.

I logged 302 miles in February, which is more than I get in most months with 30+ days! Thankfully, everything is feeling good, although my legs have been feeling heavy these past few days. 

Why, tho?
I often get asked why I run so many miles, and is it really necessary? If I want to run a 3:10 (or faster) marathon, then yes, it's necessary for me. Some women can run a 3:10 on 40 miles a week because they have natural talent. To get to the next level and have another breakthrough, I believe I need to run high mileage combined with strength training. This is all about seeing what I am capable of and getting to my lifetime peak. I'm 42 years old, so I'll probably start slowing down or plateauing soon. Now is the time to see what I can do in the marathon!

Key Workouts
Typically my weeks look like this:

  • Monday: Hard workout
  • Tuesday: Medium-long run (usually around 11 miles)
  • Wednesday: Easy Run
  • Thursday: Hard workout
  • Friday: Easy Run
  • Saturday: Long Run (often with fast miles at the end)
  • Sunday: Recovery run
I've had to navigate around snow storms and icy roads quite a bit in February so I've adjusted my schedule almost every week! I don't mind doing easy runs on the treadmill, but I really think I need to be on the road to get the full benefit of some of these long, hard workouts. Here are a few breakthrough workouts I am super proud of.

8 x 1-mile with 2-minute recovery jogs (January 21). I had never done 8 mile repeats before; 7 was the
most I had ever tackled! I decided that the only palatable way to approach it would be to avoid the track and run on the road. There is a 1.4 - mile loop near me that has slight inclines and declines throughout which I thought would be a good substitute. That way, I would never pass the same spot during one rep, and all reps would start and end in different places.  I knew that the small hills would mean it wouldn't be as fast as the track but this wasn't a vanity workout—it was about doing the work and making it through the entire 8 reps.

Pacing wise, my coach told me to shoot for 6:30-6:45, ideally at the faster end for most of them. For reference, I had just set a 10K PR at a pace of 6:37. So I was now going to run 8 miles at around 10K pace, with very short recovery jogs. Not walks, not rests, but jogs. It was 28° with very little wind, and I consider this to be very good weather. 

I pretty much wanted to quit after the first two reps. They were long and hard. But after the 3rd rep, things didn't seem so bad and I flew through the rest of them quite nicely. It was difficult to rally for that final 8th rep, so I started out on the slower side but then sprinted the second half to get my average pace down:  6:40, 6:42, 6:34, 6:35 6:35, 6:34, 6:30, 6:42. This is an average of 6:37, which is exactly my 10K PR pace. 

12 x 800m with 400m recovery jogs (February 11).  It was 34°, 7 mph winds and wet snow! I had never run more than 10 x 800m so this was a new challenge. It took me 4 full reps to get my legs turning over at top speed but then I settled into it: 3:32, 3:22, 3:15, 3:14 3:10, 3:09, 3:08, 3:09 3:08, 3:07, 3:07, 3:09

According to Bart Yasso, the average of 10 x 800m predicts your marathon fitness. I averaged the last 10 reps and got 3:09.6, which is exactly what I’m aiming for at my marathon. I was happy to finish strong.

30 mins at marathon pace, 30 mins at threshold (February 17). This was an hour-long run: 30 minutes at marathon pace, 30 minutes at 6:50. My coach prescribed marathon pace at 7:18 but I ran by feel and ended up being slightly faster. Plus, if I want to run a sub-3:10, then I’ll need to be just under 7:15.

It was 31° with 8-10 mph winds which were brutal in some portions. It was originally scheduled for Thursday but I moved it forward a day to avoid the snow storm. This meant just one easy day since my hard effort on Monday. I warmed up for 2 miles and then started the work:

30 minutes, 4.16 miles: 7:15, 7:13, 7:12, 7:11 (7:14 for the 0.16)
30 minutes, 4.39 miles: 6:50, 6:50, 6:50, 6:50 (6:46 for the 0.39)

This was one continuous run, no stopping, which ended up being the 8.54 miles at an average 7:01 pace. I kept thinking I would have to stop early because it got hard during the last 15 minutes. But I kept saying “just one more minute” until I reached 60. I can’t believe I hit those paces so perfectly and I do think I have the fitness for a 7:14 marathon pace!

Hopefully these hard workouts, high mileage, and strength training will get me to 3:10 level. I just need some decent weather on race day. I think I have addressed my digestive issues so I don't run into the same problems I had during my last marathon. The Maurten Drink Mix and gels have been amazing and so far I have had no issues with them. Greg will also be running this race, and I would love to see him have a major breakthrough as well. 


  1. Why not tho! You know your body. I haven't been doing super long runs but I've been running a lot of miles in general and I'm curious to see how that will translate once I ramp up for half training. When I first started running I only ran 3-4 days a week, which is fine and if I needed to I could certainly cut back, but there's something about 5-6 days that I feel really gives me an extra edge. It certainly makes me happier if nothing else.

  2. Miles matter! Running the most miles you can- without getting injured- will really improve your running. Sounds like you've found the perfect balance. And those workouts sound great! I can't wait to hear about your marathon.

  3. Well you definitely understand endurance training and quite impressive what you logging doing running outdoors! Mileage does matter and depending how the high-mileage done...can really boost aerobic capacity and enhance that fat-burn contribution to metabolism. But a lot of the high-miles are usually done at far slower and easier paces than for speed, strength or pace runs.

    In 2011 training for Boston my log totals 1,009.8 miles for the 18-wks of training, but that probably includes the marathon distance run on race day. On 3/26/11 my peak LR I ran 23.37-mi in 3:16:28 and total miles for that training week was 102.37-mi. And that LR down in the hills of Palos and hills from the get go and all through it. In those days...I was running LR training pace 45-30s slower than goal race pace, and in that 2nd half of schedule....doing "fast-finish" running MP or faster the last 6-mi or so. And this was the year I ran my fastest in Boston with my PR of 3:24>56

    Not bragging here and I know this is your blog and your claim to fame, but I only use my epic training and Boston Marathon in 2011 as example because it simply supports your premise high mileage provides huge gains in aerobic and performance capacity.

    Of course these days at 67-yrs old I no longer can sustain that 8-min or higher sub-8 pace over marathon distance and it more like my 5k speed these days! And 67-yr old body just can't handle that kind of high mileage, though I still striving to get peak weekly mileage in that 60-65 mile range....maybe 70.

    Of course to get that high mileage in a week and still perform will in the speed and tempo (pace) and long runs...those runs on "Easy" run days can be in 6-10 mile distance, but really slow. So this cycle I following Hanson's program and the Marathon FT goal is ca 4-hr so I can re-qualify for Boston. So my tempo runs are at marathon pace and in the 9:05-9:10 pace range. Speed work puts me in the 7:30-8:00 pace range, and LR training pace starts at ca 9:50, but I progress it up gradually and try to finish out the last 6-4 miles at race pace. But on those Easy days...the pace can be agonizingly slow and require a lot of concentration to stick to it...11:15-10:50 pace range! But if I train to Hanson's philosophy I have to run those Easy runs at that way slow speed as they dictate.

    OK it's your blog and your place to shine! Your karma-animal is Zebra...and you train and race like one...and I know it takes a lot of discipline and tenacity to do what you do! So great work Zebra. I think you can adopt the Who's song as your mantra song and change the lyrics slightly "I Can Run For Miles And Miles And Miles!" Another great post!

  4. You handle hard workouts and many miles very well and you are in such great shape! Excited to see what the marathon brings!

  5. Those 6:50s and doing it so consistently is incredible. I truly believe you have 3:09:59 capability and have felt that way for a long time watching and reading this blog and seeing how well you've progressed. The good thing about the marathon distance is we keep our slow twitch muscle fibers for longer than our fast twitch muscle fibers. Therefore those 5K to marathon guides aren't always accurate and are just ideas. MY thoughts? At 42, if it's saying you're 5K time leads to a 3:10:00 there's a better chance it can. While I've only see one male really get a lot faster in his 40s and ran their first sub 2:40:00 at 47 years old in Boston and then did better in Chicago at 48, I've seen a lot of females get faster thru about age 45 so I think you're going to pull this off. I believe in you!! I've seen it happen and I know you can do it too. You are so committed, I'm just amazed and impressed by your dedication!!