october 18, 2014
By Coach Eladio Valdez III
Many of us don’t realize how much we burn the candle at both ends when we attempt to train for a half marathon or marathon on top of our busy lives. The good news is that you don’t have to. In fact, the less miles you run, the fresher and less injury prone you’ll be while performing at least as well. In fact, those who inject more quality within those fewer miles they run will typically perform better on race day.
First of all, a fresher body will always out perform a more tired one, even a more fit one. Since ALL of us don’t know what our ‘enough’ point is until after the fact, playing it safer with fewer miles is a wise move. Even if you don’t get injured, the ‘Law of Diminishing Returns’ dictates that after a certain point the risk of doing more miles starts to outweigh their benefits. A study at the University of Northern Iowa showed that those who averaged 35 miles a week did just as well as those who averaged 45 miles a week in the same marathon. Health professionals always see greater numbers of injured runners in their offices around August when their weekly and long run miles really climb. To lower the risk of injury, you have 3 choices. 1) Run fewer weekly and long run miles 2) Strength train with an emphasis on your glutes to compensate for your higher mileage 3) Lower your mileage AND strength train. Option #3 makes the most sense, doesn’t it?
Secondly, to improve, you need to work on your neuromuscular system in addition to your cardiovascular system. While the cardiovascular system can be improved both by quality and quantity, the neuromuscular system can only be stimulated by intensity or quality – i.e. running faster. Multiple studies have shown that runners improve at all distances when they increase the speed of their workouts. Instead of just running half mile repeats at 5K pace, those who also do 200-400 meters at 1 mile race pace and 800 meters at 2 mile race pace improve. Instead of just doing 3 mile tempo runs at roughly 15K race pace (between 10K and half marathon race pace), those who do 1 mile tempo repeats at 10K race pace improve. Even though I cut my mileage by 50% (from 50 to 25 miles a week) I ran a half marathon in a similar time from last fall to this spring. The quality of my miles made up the difference while I enjoyed an injury free session and had more time freed up to do other things.
The updated training schedules on the website display the lower mileage options for all levels. I encourage you to give them a shot! I also invite you to enjoy a KC Marathon/Half Marathon Kickoff Clinic that is free and open to the public on June 26 at 6:30pm at the Ward Parkway Garry Gribble’s Running Sports store. I’ll address the latest training guidelines including the ‘quality over quantity’ approach. Please RSVP to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to attend.