The Benefits of High Volume Running
Back in 2012, I felt I was ready to tackle the California International Marathon… and then the storm came in, with wind gusts hitting upwards of 50 mph and rain ankle deep on certain parts of the course. Not the ideal conditions for running my best marathon, however I could have written it off to bad weather and accepted that. During my recovery week I started to look at my training, and asked around with people who have achieved something I have never felt I have done yet: running strong through a marathon.
During that week of emailing sub 2:50:00 marathon runners, and searching online and through books on marathon training programs, I was introduced to high-volume mileage training. At the time I was a 40-50 mile per week runner who wasn’t able to crack the 3:30:00 mark, and specifically in regards to The San Francisco Marathon I had 3 years with times of 4:26:xx, 3:56:xx, and 3:53:xx. I wanted to be able to accomplish so much more.
One of the runners who I credit in helping me, Chris Kovalchick (SFM Ambassador ’12 & ’13), told me his story about converting to high mileage running and running a minimum of 70 miles a week. Previously he too was a 40-50 mile a week guy and running decently, but then he turned to high mileage and is now running in the 2:40s at any given marathon.
Before diving two feet in, I did have my reservations for high-volume training. I was doubtful, but for me running for the coveted Boston Qualifying time was worth it. I personally didn’t just want to be a marathoner, I wanted to be a Boston Qualifier, and eventually be a Boston Marathon Finisher! My goal which still remains today is to own and wear a Boston Marathon Jacket.
Here are things I was concerned with when it came to high-volume training and how it worked out for me:
I don’t have time to run that much.
If I want it bad enough, I will make time. The greatest people in history achieved amazing things and they too only had 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Waking up early and putting my running on my calendar has made it easier to make those minimum 70-mile weeks, coordinating with my wife and our family schedule has allowed me to get the miles I need to.
In fact sometimes to get some of my ‘easy’ miles, I will plan ahead and leave the house early meeting my wife and family at locations where she has a change of clothes for me when I meet her at an event.
I will probably get injured running so much.
Prior to running high-volume, I was getting hurt much more frequently. In fact, since I started my high-volume training I have logged on most weeks anywhere from 70-102 miles a week of running. My body has never felt better and stronger since running more miles. In fact when I started my new running approach I have ran every single day, and as I write this blog entry I am on day 400 of my running streak which started on December 10, 2012 with a 10-mile run.
What I have learned is that running easy (recovery miles) has prevented my body from getting sore like before. I feel fresher and am able to tackle harder workouts much better with high-volume running.
Running more miles has not only made me stronger but it as made me faster!
I won’t be able to cross train and will lose overall fitness.
My goal is to be the best runner I can possibly be. I am not trying to be great at spin or crossfit. Running is my sport that I want to excel in. The only way I can get better at running is by running. I have found that running on various terrains and elevations (trails, hills, etc), has provided me with that “cross training” experience. By keeping myself running I have not only found a better way to stay fit, but I have been able to see more of the world around me running in areas, I would have never ran because I was limiting my previous miles to only speed workouts, tempo, and long runs during a 40-50 mile week.
I know high-volume running isn’t for everyone. In fact, when I first started it did hurt a little, I was pounding the pavement more and more each and every week. With hitting the pavement more, meant listening to my body, pulling back pace when needed and spending more time stretching and using the foam roller on spots I needed to loosen up. For me in regards to high-volume running, ‘the proof is in the pudding’.
My first marathon after running high-volume miles for 14 weeks was at the Asics LA Marathon in March of 2013 where I ran a 3:11, running a personal best of 21 minutes. My previous best was a 3:32:08 back in 2010. Since running high-volume I have seen drastic changes in my times in the marathon, I have also crossed marathon finish lines at times of 3:13 at the Ventura Marathon, 3:09:27 at The San Francisco Marathon, and most recently a 3:09:25 at the California International Marathon. This 3:09:25 has given me my first ever Boston Qualifying time after moving up an age group for the 2015 Boston Marathon.