Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fifty Mile Weeks

Houston, we have a problem.

Well, it might be premature to call it a problem. It might be, it might not be. I'm not totally convinced it's a major concern, but just in case it is or should be, I trust you all will keep me in the know one way or the other.

It all started about four weeks ago when I was totaling up my weekly mileage, and found that I surpassed 50 miles for the first time in 2010. Given that I had "only" 46 scheduled for that week, and my first fifty mile week of 2009 didn't come til mid March, I thought it was pretty neat. At the time, I didn't think too much of it, until it happened again the following week. I ran mileage in the fifties even though the plan only had me scheduled in the forties. For some, this might be a cause for celebration. For me it was giant red flag because I know I tend to get fatigued and injured if I run too high mileage too early on in training. So I made a pact to myself to take some miles off and run lower and slower mileage. But despite my best intentions, for a third week in a row, I ran fifty miles, albeit at a slower pace. Part of it was because I did not incorporate warmup and cooldown miles for speedwork into my training plan. The bigger part of it was that I could not bring myself to stop at 48 or 49 miles for the week. The push for 50 was just too overwhelming, the pressure too great. That's when I became cautious. That's when I got scared. Could I be turning into a high mileage junkie? Am I physically addicted to the 50 mile week?

Seeing as I am a medical scientist, I tried to answer the question in as objective a manner as I could. I challenged myself with the hard questions and even found time to CAGE myself (For those not in the know, the CAGE questions are a set of four simple questions used to screen for physical dependence to alcohol) To be honest, I had a tough time providing answers and scored positive on all the CAGE questions (as it applied to running...) And when I once again found myself over the weekend not being able to stop at 14 miles when I've logged 35 for the week, I reached my verdict and announced my predicament with a limerick:

I have an addiction I must admit
The 50 mile week so hard to resist
I've done four so far, on tap so many more
I see miles even when asleep.

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. But I really don't think there is a problem here, do you? Yes, I'm running many more miles than my legs ever bargained for and the mere thought of running less is enough to send my body into a panic attack, but as long as I get my run in first thing in the morning and last thing at night, it's not really all that bad. All I want is to log fifty miles for the week. Is that really too much to ask?


Marathon Maritza said...

You are SUCH an inspiration! I cannot wait until I'm accidentally running 50 miles.

Be careful of injury, you said it yourself! Great job though!

Jen said...

Craving 50... miles? wow!

Julie said...

Good morning Lam,
Wow, you are busting out 50 mile weeks!!! You are a crazy rock star:) Good job on getting in the miles, I think it is okay as long as you listen to your body...and the medical scientist in you. I hear that NY may be in for more snow...I thought that we agreed that spring was on its way!?! Take care and keep working hard Lam!!

Also, thanks for your comment and thoughts on my college boys issues...I appreciate it:)

Jocelyn said...

NICE work!! :) youre my hero

NY Wolve said...

The difference between 48 and 50 miles in terms of injury and fatigue I bet is close to zero. SO, if 50 per week is a nice round number, I say go for it. I recall a running coach lamenting people obsessed with numbers. He said he chuckled to himself when he saw people run around the parking lot to add an extra 0.05 mile to a workout to go from 5.95 to 6.00 on their Garmin. He said there is absolutely no training advantage and it just doesn't matter. I thought, yes, it does mentally, and I could totally see why someone would do that. So, if 50 makes you happy, embrace it I say.

EZEthan said...

Fine line you're walking there Lam... I don't think that problems occur when you have 48 scheduled and you wind up feeling so good you wind up doing 50. The problems show up when you have 48 scheduled... you have a bad week where you struggle through fatigue to even reach that 48 mark and then still do extra just to get to 50.

But hey, you're feeling good, so WAY TO GO!!!!!

Of course 50 is a totally arbitrary number. It reminds me of the marathon forum newbies who are always so concerned about how many of the mythical 20 milers to do before a marathon... That's when I bring up how many countries run 18.64 miles (30K) for their longest pre-marathon run... What? No 20 milers? Yep... it usually blows their minds!

aron said...

haha i keep accidentally running 50 miles too! its like some magic number for me, but i think as long as your body is handling it well and you throw in some cut back weeks in there you are good to go.

it may have been harder in the past, but i find that each training cycle 50 miles isnt as hard mentally and physically as it was before. like the first time i was running 50 miles during a week it was SO HARD, now its just normal and my body handles it better. just pay attention but i think you are doing awesome :)

Lisa said...

It is definitely a good thing that you can admit your addiction! You mentioned that when you run too many miles, you tend to get fatigued and injuries may occur, so as long as you're feeling good I don't think it's a problem. Just don't push it too far. Better to run a few less miles now so you can finish the actual race!

Jesse said...

"Am I physically addicted to the 50 mile week?

I bet you're more mentally addicted than physically addicted. I don't think that you're body could tell the difference between 48 and 50, but your brain sure will.

BTW, thanks for your comments on my barefoot running adventure - it's always good to get the opinion of someone far more knowledgable of the human body than I am.

Anonymous said...

Funny. I don't think being in the 50s regularly is such a bad thing. I've been there for about a year and it's been just fine.

Just watch your body/mind and adjust if needed. If there's a problem, back off. If not, continue forward.

Plus, like Aron said, I bet your body as adjusted and can handle it now.

Morgan said...

I did 3 50+ mile weeks this training cycle, during Chicago I topped out at 38 mpw. I gotta say, I did feel basically bad@ss because of it. :)

Anonymous said...

wow i can 100% relate to this post! the allure of any landmark is simply too great for me.

awesome job pounding out those 50 weeks. i think youre doing okay because you seem to be in-tune with your body. at least this is what i tell myself when i'm running high miles: i'm wicked observant to how i'm feeling because injury would obv suck a lot!

Running and living said...

I am doing 50 first time ever this week. I don't know, I think bc I don't buy the "more miles, faster marathons" mantra, I don't get hung up on number of miles I run. Still, even for me going into the 50s is kinda cool! I don't think you need an intervention:)

Ms. V. said...

This may be my problem with Twitter. Just DO IT!

The Happy Runner said...

A fiftyophile? Better than a fiftyophobe, I guess!

matpedw said...

Training log hero
Race day zero

Actually, I don't think this applies to you at all. I just missed saying it and couldn't resist. (We used to always say that to each other in cycling when somebody would drop the hammer on a group ride. Except we replaced "training log" with "group ride")

lindsay said...

i scored a 2, apparently i am 'at risk' of problem-running or runningaholism :)

i definitely think that as long as you are *actually* staying tuned in to your body, the 50's aren't a bad thing.

runner26 said...

it's true that you can get injured if you run too many miles in a week...but, what is "too many miles"? you might be more used to running higher mileage now and less likely to injure yourself with 50 mile weeks. At least that is my theory ;)

Clicky Web Analytics