Maybe less IS more…

You can sum up my running mileage the last few months in two words: Not. Much. So, how did I shave over a minute off my previous time at the super hilly Fireball Classic 10K and feel good doing it? I wish I knew. But, as I continue in this crazy world of endurance sports, I am constantly reminded that less really IS more. Not all two athletes are created equally…duh. My body does not want 7+ mpw swimming, 100+ mpw cycling, and 50+ mpw running. Maybe for a short time, but not indefinitely. I’m going for longevity, not world records. Although, in my brain that has been trained to think that I need to be out there logging those miles, I feel that I’m not doing enough for the longer races. Don’t I need to see a few 50+ mile weeks on my running log to race a decent marathon? Shouldn’t I be cycling 100+ mpw for the Redman 1/2?

Racing is a good way to get a speed workout.

I think the answer might be no. If you’ve followed this amateur runner’s blog enough, you know that I tend to get injured training for a marathon. Buuut, after training for and completing the 1/2 IM last year, I was ready to tackle marathon training again. I was doing just that, swimmingly I might add, until I dropped all cross training 2 months in and amped up the running mileage. The 18 mile long runs went great. The 20 miler…not so much. It is interesting that, in discussing this with Camille Herron, she responded with the following:

“Jack Daniels said no one, regardless of ability, should have to go longer than 2:30 for a long run. I’ve got to agree with him. Even when I’m not going long, I’m still getting in 2:20-40 worth of running time in two runs. In fact, I like to run twice on my long run days….maybe this would work for you?”

Trains-not an interval workout’s friend.

Maybe. I’m sure I will let you all know how it goes, as I am very willing and excited to give it a try. For now, I am under the impression that less is more. Don’t take this the wrong way though.  Running a couple of miles 3 days a week, doing zero bike/run brick workouts, spending less than 2 hours in the pool a week, never practicing an open water swim…this would not get me very far come race day. 70.3 miles is still 70.3 miles. However, it’s about making sure your 3-4 dpw of running give you the most bang for your buck and tagging those runs onto a 2-3 hour bike ride on occasion. I am of the opinion that this will lead to a good race (5:48 at my first 1/2 IM injury-free) and, potentially, an injury-free marathon (the latter is not yet backed by empirical data).

What runs do you need (Various sources, both professional and weekend warrioresque and a few years of my own running experience)?

  1. Hills
  2. Speed (ie. Tempo, Fartlek, Track)
  3. Long

Having friends beat you with paddles while you practice your OWS isn’t a bad idea either. (See video.)

What about cycling (Thanks Travis and Buzz)?

  1. Intervals
  2. Brick
  3. Long

And swimming (In my amateur opinion)?

  1. Just do it. Swim often. (Honestly, I find this aids in run recovery more than a recovery run.)
  2. Work on improving form/efficiency.
  3. Get your face in open water as often as possible.

I’m not an expert. I’m not a coach. I’m not a professional athlete. I am a scientist. I am human. The experiment continues…

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13 thoughts on “Maybe less IS more…

  1. Scott Foster says:

    Good stuff! Thanks for your insight. I used to get injured training for marathons until I started using the Hansons-Brooks marathon training plan where your longest run is 16 miles on tired legs from all the hard mid-week efforts. It has led me to consecutive PRs at the Memorial the past two years.

    • . says:

      Yes! Some of my friends did that too 🙂 It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s great for a lot of people and I’m probably one of them. I’ll have to pick your brain about how much cross training you do with that marathon plan.

  2. Gavin says:

    Great blog…..I can vouch for the “less is more” training philosophy. Back in 2005, I did the Sydney marathon. My peak running mileage was 55km in a week with only one run of 32km before tapering….Sorry for all you Americans reading this, I’m an Aussie through and through so I’m not going to try and convert that to miles. I have run 3 marathons and Sydney Marathon still remains my PB time of 3:36. In 2009, I ran the Melbourne Marathon in 3:37, with a peak mileage of 94km in a week…..Now I’m not saying that running the extra mileage was a disadvantage, I can confidently say that running a “training” marathon in 3:42, 6 weeks before the Melbourne Marathon worked to my disadvantage……Thus, I find that the marathon event is certainly a difficult event to race well…..I know i can run a lot faster than 3:36 based on some of my shorter distance times, and I look forward to continuing my journey to discover my marathon running potential…Just have to find out what works for you, everyone is different….Just came back from an 8km run in 37:17. Last two kilometer splits were 4:29 and 4:12 per Km.

    • . says:

      Sounds like your running is going great! 🙂 Are you sticking with the “less is more” mentality this time around? Doing any cycling?

      • Gavin says:

        I guess in a way, I am adopting the less is more mentality in the fact that I’m not following a rigid training program. I’m aiming for 2-3 mid week runs anywhere between 4-8k with one of those days being more of an interval/tempo run. I am yet to incorporate “formal” interval sessions into my training purely because I am still recovering from calf injuries earlier this year. I will probably spend another month of building a base before I start dedicated interval training. Also, I am not doing any cycling which means I have to be a lot more careful adding mileage and speed. I’d say that over the next 6 months, I will not be increasing my weekly mileage to anymore than 50km per week, which for marathon training is very minimal…….I’m running in the Sun Herald City to Surf with 80,000 other runners (Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach, 14km). Just aiming for sub 70 min finish.

  3. Gavin says:

    I opted for the “less is more mentality” with my training today by skipping out on my 6k I was going to do, haha. Better going into a race under cooked than over cooked.

    P.S I’m competing in the Male 60-69 age category on. My name on Sunday will NOT be Gavin. Hehe.

  4. Gavin says:

    Sometimes, things just don’t go the way you plan them….My plan today was to run in the City To Surf 14km fun run…..Today i did not run due to a combination of things. Friday, I went out for an easy 6km run……3km in, I feel my left calf tighten up slightly, a problem which I have been cursed with for most of the year. Secondly, I did not have an entry into the race under my own name and there were logistical issues regarding picking up the race pack on the morning of the race. I’m going to go out for a short run on Tuesday to see how my left calf muscle responds. I’m aiming to run a half marathon on August 26. Hope the body holds up……

  5. Gavin says:

    Well……..its August 26……Did not run the half marathon today held near where I live. However, I did manage to get my regular running buddy plus my cello student to do a great 20.2km run this morning. Overall average pace was 5:04 with the last 5k run at sub 5 min per k pace. I currently have my left calf on ice and I am most definitely adopting the “less is more” philosophy for my training at this stage. I’m only doing 2 mid-week runs no longer than 8km in distance and no specifically targeted speed work. At the moment, I’m just enjoying the fact that this minor problem I have with my calf muscle is not stopping me from running completely, but I am trying er on the side of caution. Happy days !!!

    P.S I would appreciate any feedback from anyone who has had acupuncture as a potential cure for persistent tight muscles.

    • . says:

      I have had acupuncture for a foot tendon issue, but find rolling out the muscles with a softball to be a better option when done consistently. Did you get to run/hike a lot this past week?? 🙂

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