About a month ago I posted a guest blog for The San Francisco Marathon, where I discussed the benefits of high volume training. During my marathon training cycles I can log anywhere from 70 to 100 miles during any given week. Now with all those miles, I do not go all out on all of the miles, in no way could I log that many “hard” miles in a week and stay healthy and enjoy running as much as I do. Though a couple good workouts a week that truly kick my ass are important and enjoyed, the recovery miles are just as important both from a physical standpoint but as well as a mental standpoint for me.
I often hear people placing all their emphasis on the long run on the weekends, though this is important to building the mileage base, I personally think the long run is the 3rd of the 3 workouts that should take priority, if you are running a decent amount of miles during the week. Though the ability to run 20-22 miles will give you the legs to run 26.2 miles, I don’t think it gives you enough practice at running at marathon pace. Let’s be honest even the first time marathoner has a goal time and that goal time is based on a specific average pace after the 26.2 miles are completed.
So where do my priorities lie when it comes to my workouts?
For me, my most important workout is my Thursday workout, this is where I get my marathon pace practice. During my marathon training cycle, I will run anywhere from 6-10 miles at marathon pace. Each workout will have 1.5-3 miles of warm-up miles (sub 8’s) as well as the same amount of cool down miles. The middle miles will be at or around the 6:50 per mile pace to get me training for a sub 3 hour marathon. The closer I get to the marathon, the more middle miles at marathon pace are being ran.
The second of my workouts that I see as a target or key workout are my Tuesday morning interval workouts. These range from 400-meter sets to 3-mile intervals. These too, like the marathon pace runs increase in volume as the marathon gets closer and closer. For me being marathon fit is more than just running fast or running long, but it is also about running consistent and being able to recover within the run/workout.
Though I find that long runs are important it should not be the majority of the weekly workout. I know some people will run 20-22 miles on a Saturday or Sunday and equal or lesser mileage during the 5-6 days going into the long run. Since making my long run only ~20% of my weekly volume, I have found that my marathon times have been faster.
The rest of the week is made of recovery pace runs to give me volume as well as rid my legs of the stiffness and soreness when I use to really focus on the long run. I really believe that the recovery miles are just as important as the 3 other workouts during the week.
How do you prioritize your workouts? Which is your favorite workout of the week? Does your long run make up most of your weekly volume?