Notes From a Hired Pen

Week 3: What is high mileage?

Four miles, 40:33

I’ve spent much of this week interviewing people who are going to be running in the Olympic Marathon Trials. I always ask about how many miles they run at their peak training. Most answer in the 100 to 110 range.

For this training cycle, I’ll peak at 57 miles, which makes me sound like a slacker in comparison. But when I get to that level, I go a little nuts: I want to eat everything, sleep all the time, and just sit on my couch and do nothing in the times that I’m not running. I can’t fathom logging more than that.

This became a point of contention when I first wrote about training through the Hansons Marathon Method. A notoriously toxic running forum lampooned me for thinking more than 50 miles a week was high mileage. Thankfully, someone was kind enough to point out that, when you’re not elite or sub elite, 57 miles takes an awful lot of time to spend on your feet running, especially when most of those miles are done at an easy pace.

For the New Jersey Marathon, I’m hoping to break four hours. According to the Hansons book, I should be doing my easy aerobic A miles (that’s how they’re described in the book) at an 11 minutes per mile pace. On my 57 mile week, the long run is 16 miles. That’ll take me almost three hours.

Compare that to someone who would be trying to hit 2:45 in the marathon (that’s the women’s marathon trials qualifying standard). If she’s also doing the same Hansons schedule, she should be doing her easy aerobic A runs at a 7:43 minutes per mile pace. Her 16 miles? About two hours.

I’m guessing this person would not be doing the beginner schedule as I am, but I already did enough math here, and I think I’m getting the point across. Being slower means you’re still putting in significant time on your feet, and those 57 miles are going to take me a lot longer than it would a speedy little thing, which is why they can put in closer to 100 per week.

So yes, 57 miles to me is high mileage. And that’s what I thought about while running today.

I’m trying to keep my easy runs slow, but it’s not easy. I hit just over a 10 minute mile pace on an easy run today, which is…not good. I’m sure when I start getting into speed and strength workouts in week six, I’ll be grateful for 11 minutes per mile days.

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