No major update from me folks. Although I’m done with the fever and chills, I still have paroxysmal coughing spells which makes sleeping through the night and running through a longish run a major hassle. As such, I’m trying to be smart and laying off the feet and laying off the speed as much as possible this past week. Luckily for me, this was a scheduled recovery week anyway so I’ve not been too worried about the layback workouts or the missed miles. I’m fully embracing the essence of the plan and trying to be patient with myself. I won’t lie; coming off August where I ran more miles (245) than I ever did, this sudden decrease in distance and intensity feels completely foreign to me. Some friends have already been whispering things to me in private for some time, but it may now be time for the issue to enter the public light: “Am I addicted to running?”
On second thought, there’s no need to answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. But what isn’t rhetorical are the questions I’ve been asking myself ever since I finished reading the featured article “The Rules Revisited” in the latest (September) edition of Runner’s World. Is less really more? Are there really studies that show “little correlation between weekly mileage and marathon performance, especially for novices?” as is claimed by the authors of the article. Are RW, FIRST and other low-mileage, high-intensity marathon training plans just as good as Pfitz, Higdon, Daniels and other more conventional programs that advocate higher mileage but slower pace training? Has Runner’s World reached new levels of deceit with their manipulation of studies and statistics in order to entice newbie runners who are ignorant of what it really takes to run a 26.2 mile race? I realize I may be opening a whole big can of worms by opening discourse on this subject here, but I really think this is an important topic that affects a lot of marathoners and wannabe marathoners and as such deserves some recognition and discussion from the running community.
So as someone who’ve partied like a rockstar from both camps, I’d like to offer my personal opinions on the matter.
Let me start by saying that I think RW is really doing the regular/veteran runners a disservice with its false propaganda of the benefits of lower-mileage training. I agree with most of the forummites here who vehemently reject the Runner’s World findings. There is no doubt in my mind that running lots and lots of miles is the key to maximizing your marathon performance. After all, you don’t see any elites running less miles and thanking F.I.R.S.T. for their marathon success. Most of them run in excess of 100 mile per week and wish they could recover faster to run more.
Yet, unlike the forummites, I feel as though the lower mileage plans may actually work and be ideal for some select people. I myself have used F.I.R.S.T. in some variation or form for my first few marathons and found pretty good success with it. For the newer runners who are marathon virgins or those who are injured frequently, the emphasis on dedicated cross training and fewer actual miles may be of some benefit.
For the rest of us who do not fall into those categories, I believe the conventional high mileage training is the way to go. Not only do the additional miles increase the endurance capabilities of the athlete, but the higher mileage training is conducive to to faster speeds on the road as well. It is debatable whether this extra training increases the risk for injuries, which is a legitimate concern. As long as you run with correct form, slow down on easy/recovery runs and keep long runs at a comfortable pace, injuries shouldn’t happen which means that if you are getting them at a somewhat consistent basis, the thing to do is to find out what mechanistically and physiologically is wrong and deal with them, rather that make adjustments to running less miles.
So what says you blogosphere? Did Runner’s World go overboard here or am I just over the line? I’m interested to hear.