Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Breaking Point

I have never been a "high mileage" runner, at least as most marathoners would define that term. 

I've kept careful running logs over the years, and I usually make a point of chonicling my weekly miles of training on the blog just before a marathon:
  • here and here in 2010 right before my first BQ,
  • here before Boston 2011, and
  • not here before my fall 2011 race
  • 2012 wasn't applicable because the first race was while wearing a 40 pound weight vest, and the second marathon (Beijing) was cancelled before I started to taper, and then I never bothered to chronicle my training for my personal make-up race. 

Overall, I was gradually increasing the miles and very happy with the results (like I said, it still wasn't high mileage by most marathoners' standards).  My pattern for the last few years has been to start hurting whenever I have two weeks in a row of mileage in the mid-50s (that mileage used to be blog-worthy, and even lower amounts as well). 

This year was unfolding differently. 

I think the big change was that I was commuting to work on foot 5 runs per week and those were junk miles in the truest sense of the term.  3.7 miles each way, so up to 18 miles or so per week.  I would go very slowly sometimes, frequently accompanied by a coworker who's just starting out or by a good friend who's coming back, both of whom pace 2-3 minutes per mile slower than I do on my own.  But even when I was alone, those 5 commutes per week were usually very, very easy and slow. 

This year I think I moved my breaking point higher. 

I can do more weeks in the mid-50s, but either way, then I break. 

I have completed 12 weeks of training so far for the Berlin Marathon.  At this point, I only have 4 more long runs (and then a couple shorter long runs while I taper).  The current plan goes 20-20-18-22 (that second 20 is in doubt since we'll be out of town for my high school reunion that weekend). 

Here is my current training break-down for 12 weeks (the one week where I had a Saturday long run I am counting it as being done on Sunday, and I'm putting the Sunday miles on Sat, just to keep the total picture clearer):
  • 0-29.9 = 0 weeks
  • 30.0 – 34.9 = 3 weeks
  • 35.0 – 39.9 = 1 week
  • 40.0 – 44.9 = 2 weeks
  • 45.0 – 49.9 = 3 weeks
  • 50.0 – 54.9 = 1 week
  • 55.0+ = 2 weeks

But this past weekend, as I mentioned, I think I hit the breaking point.  Coincidentally (NOT!), I have been over 47.5 (so upper-40s) the last five weeks in a row.  If I were a hashtag person, I'd say #overtrained, or #overtraining, or #toomanymiles, or #toomuchtoosoon, or #maybemyrunningcoachcertificationshouldberevoked.

I'm hoping a few days off will fix it, and then I will proceed to take it easy while I ride out the remaining weeks of training.  Maybe drop some of the commuting miles if necessary. 

If a few days off doesn't fix it, I guess I won't be meeting my goal time in Berlin, but I still feel like I've accomplished something in that I was finally able to sustain higher miles for longer. 

And the rational part of me is pretty sure that this current pain should resolve before race day.  After all, it just started hurting on Sunday, and I had gotten in at least 14 miles before the first little hint of pain.  Biofreeze will surely cure all, and then I will head into Berlin with the strongest training history and the highest mileage I've ever had...


  1. I can't even imagine running 40-50 miles per week; I am in awe of runners who do that and more! I am very prone to injury so even marathon training last year the program I did (Furman FIRST) was 3 runs per week and my highest mileage was just over 31 miles!

    PS it is Karen from Run Shop Travel; I took a blogging hiatus and now blog as Sunnytropic!

  2. This is interesting... I feel like your breakdown of mileage per week seems very reasonable.

    As merely a stalker of many people's running logs, I do notice a huge correlation of runner's abilities to handle high mileage to the intensity of that mileage. A lot of people who breakdown at certain mileage thresholds seem to run most of their runs at very similar intensities and paces. Whereas the people who seem to be able to handle more mileage have huge variances in their paces...

    Bottomline is that everyone is different and there's no cookie cutter answer. Good luck with the pain... I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's just a little inflammation and will be gone in no time!

  3. Aah! I'm behind on blog-reading from being so swamped with moving! I'm sorry you got hurt. :( I'll have to read backwards to find out what is going on. Rest up!