You've heard the old adage, "quality over quantity" and this statement applies to speed work as well.
We write the workouts the way we do for a reason - and when you're done, you should've worked hard enough that running additional miles outside of your cool down isn't an option. Your body has worked hard, so do your cool down and relax.
A few of you are so focused on your weekly/monthly mileage numbers, that you're forgetting something important - a quality workout can be just as beneficial (if not more), than simply logging mileage at an average pace.
But, "I just want to run a slow marathon. You know, just finish" you say. So, don't I need to be logging miles and miles and more miles? Well, speed, strength, and endurance are closely related. If you are little bit faster, then you're a little bit stronger. If you're a little bit stronger, it becomes a little bit easier to run longer. Make sense? It has to do with muscle. When you have more muscle fibers, then the impact of your weight in running is distributed over more muscle. This makes the job of each muscle fiber a little easier. So, if each muscle fiber has to work a little less with each step, then enduring a longer distance becomes just a little easier. Therefore, building muscles through speedwork increases both strength and endurance.
Now, maybe you're the type that really wants to train - you know, the type that likes those kick butt workouts. You're the "the best pace is suicide pace" racer. You're the type that wants to run a fast time in your next half or full and you're dedicated to making it happen. You have a goal that is more than to just finish. Obviously, speedwork helps with your increased need for speed. Of course you need some long distances - that's a given. But, what happens when we replace some of our basic, average paced mileage with a smaller number of miles that is faster and harder? Well, basically, we see results and we're just as prepared for our race. In fact, we may be even more mentally prepared.
Now, we know that each person is built differently. Some of you have more slow-twitch muscle fibers (ex: Jamie and Nick), and some of you have more fast-twitch muscle fibers (ex: Joy and Nicole). Those of you with more slow-twitch muscle fibers benefit from higher mileage. But, that doesn't mean that you don't need that speedwork. It also doesn't mean that you MUST log 10 miles per day. Don't go out and run extra miles after speedwork just because you think you have to do so.
Not sure what slow-twitch v. fast-twitch means? Well, fast-twitch muscle fibers are larger than slow-twitch. They actually look different. Those larger fibers are capable of more power and velocity, but are not particularly efficient. They mostly utilize sugar for energy and the super fast-twitch fibers use a solely anaerobic energy process. Slow-twitch fibers are not nearly as powerful, but are more efficient. They're very beneficial for long distances (think, 26.2) as they primarily burn fat aerobically - meaning they require oxygen to create energy.
Now, the point of this post is not to discourage high mileage weeks. After all, as aforementioned, some runners truly benefit from high mileage weeks. For example, look at Nick and Joy. When Nick trained for his half marathon, he (on average) ran 60-70+ mile weeks as that is what his body needed. Joy, when training hard, peaks out at 45-50 miles per week. It's simply a difference in what works for each of their bodies. It doesn’t mean that one training plan is better, it's simply what works for each individual.
The point here is to allow you to understand that, no matter your body type, the quality of your workout is what is important. Just because your speed workout only came out to be 4 miles, doesn't mean it was worthless mileage-wise. Sometimes, we hear something like, "Well my plan says I need 6 miles today and I only got 4 from the workout, and I HAVE TO hit 6 so I HAVE TO go run more" - just keep in mind that it's okay to run a few less miles if your miles are high quality. Make every workout and every run count.
Great job yesterday. We'll see you next week for 30/30s (aka 200m repeats).
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Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!