Something wonderful happens when my mileage stays consistently at, or just above, 40 miles per week. Running becomes easier and more enjoyable, my training pace accelerates, and I feel like a stronger runner. Hell, I feel like a runner, period.
Now that I’m a Masters runner, I’ve learned the benefit of taking 2 rest days each week. I schedule 1 long run, 2 speed sessions, and 2 regular runs each week. Sometimes I’ll run a few easy miles after a 5K race, or I’ll cheat and run a few miles with one of my kids on a rest day. But, I’ve come to appreciate how much better I feel if I recover fully after hard or sustained efforts.
My shortest runs are 5-6 miles long. My long run is usually 10-12. I’ve been through two cycles of marathon training over the last two years, and I can appreciate the value of 60-70 mile weeks for that event. But, this 40 miles per week groove I’m in now feels good. I’m not tired and ravenous like I was during marathon training.
I have a few minor aches and pains, but nothing that alarms me. I recently discovered the benefits of yoga. It’s a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I can’t hold a Figure Four without wobbling, I can’t sit down on my heels in the Child’s Pose, and my downward dog is not pretty, but I’m slowly gaining some much-needed flexibility and mobility.
Ramping up the mileage from 30 to 40 miles per week has been a careful process. You want to follow the 10% rule, which states that any extra weekly miles should be no more than 10% of the previous weekly total. The idea is to give your body time to adjust and adapt to the new training demands.
My pace has dropped as my fitness and efficiency have improved. The effort has stayed consistent. It’s a great feeling! The key is diversity. Progression runs, tempo runs, hills, long runs, fartlek, and easy runs all have a place in a well-rounded training plan.
Since running 40 miles per week is working so well, would 50 be even better? After all, elite athletes bust 100 miles per week all the time. Perhaps… However, they are #1: elites, and #2: younger than me. I’ll let you know during my next cycle of marathon training.