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The Miles Matter

Nov 19, 2018 | Running, Running Advice | 5 comments

Marathon Training miles matter

The plan said 2 mile warm up, but I didn’t read it properly, so did a 1 mile warm up, then I ran out of time so did a 0.5 mile cool down.

It might not sound like much, but I was noticing that I was doing this on a number of runs, cutting down the milage each week by between 2-5 miles total. It happening on one run is understandable when you lose track of time but the fact that I was letting it happen during most sessions and I realised that by failing to prepare, I was setting myself up to fail.

‘Do the work. Be consistent. No excuses – heat or cold, rain or shine. Consistency is the number one success metric when it comes to long distance running. The more consistent you are from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year, then the more likely you are to reach your potential.’ – Rogue Running

Marathon Training miles matter

In previous training cycles, I’ve had a ‘less is more’ approach, where I’ve run only 3 times per week and topped out around 30 miles per week. I’ve also had a cycle where I ran 6 days a week and probably maxed around 60 miles per week. Both methods work. I’ve got the times to show that, the improvements that proved they were working. However neither were quite right for me.

Currently, I’m running 5 days per week, and will be hitting about 50-55 miles per week. But the truth is, I’m not getting every mile in. And I want to stand on that race start line in Phoenix knowing I did everything I could to be in the best shape I can possibly be in…not that I cut short runs because I hadn’t looked at the training plan properly or that I ‘couldn’t be bothered’.

I’ve preached about the ‘Run Faster, Run Less’ programme previously because, following something similar, I cut 10+ minutes off my marathon time. However, looking back, I think it was the introduction of speed work, tempo and threshold runs that actually made the difference, rather than cutting the running days.

Now, I am no expert. But the more I read, listen, learn…the more I believe that a slightly higher mileage is necessary for big gains. High mileage for me is 50 miles per week, high mileage for elites is 100+…but it’s all relative. It’s about building (and maintaining) your aerobic base.

Marathon Training miles matter

“You don’t make yourself great doing anaerobic training; you make yourself great doing aerobic training.”

– Arthur Lydiard 

To get faster, you need to build more capillaries in your muscles, add mitochondria to your cells and make your blood more efficient at carrying oxygen through your body. And this apparently happens by running more miles than you started from.

According to elite runner, Stephanie Bruce,  ‘for a professional runner whose job it is to train and recover, you might see a range of 90 to 140 miles a week when training for the marathon. For someone who’s been running many years and is experienced but works full-time, they might run 50 to 70 miles a week. The majority of the pack training for the 26.2 adventure might average 30 to 50 miles a week. This would be the minimum I would recommend to really feel prepared and ready to race the marathon.’

Whilst running coach Ben Rosario said that some runners just don’t run enough. “This one is pretty blunt and it’s often not the fault of the athlete. So many plans out there seem to be centred around how little you can run and still complete the marathon. But in my opinion, the worthwhile challenge of the marathon is that it’s not easy, that it does take a lot of hard work.”

Marathon Training miles matter

Whether your training plan peaks at 30 miles or 90 miles – I think each mile is there for a reason. The easy runs aren’t junk miles, the warm ups/cool downs aren’t optional. Sure, there are miles that seem like they *count* more, but my focus going forward is to complete the workout as planned – as long as I feel healthy/uninjured and nothing else gets in the way -like the delayed train I dealt with the other day. I’m getting myself organised to give each workout my best.


  1. Victoria

    I really needed to read that, thank you. I’m early in my training cycle and while I’ve been going through the motions to an extent everything else has been allowed to get in the way. No excuses now – it is time to just get the miles in!

  2. W.Purves.

    Keep at it. G.

  3. healthylifeofriley

    Good stuff. I agree that every mile counts. After a largely injury free year I’m hoping to up my weekly mileage over the winter and am excited to see where it takes me. Good luck with your training!

  4. Bethan Taylor

    This is really interesting, and ultimately I think it comes down to finding your own sweet spot. Last training cycle I followed Brian McKenzie’s Power, Speed, Endurance approach which worked well for me, but this time I’m headed into a cycle with heavier milage (although I am training for a totally different type of event!), so maybe different things work at different times? Whatever it is I absolutely agree that consistency is key, marathons are hard because the training is hard mentally and physically, consistency is part of that x

    • charlotte

      Totally agree with you on that. I haven’t heard of Brian McKenzie’s approach but interested in learning more. I also think it depends on what your desired outcome is…if it’s just to finish, it’s very different to having a specific time goal in mind. ANd similarly, depends on your starting point. THe more i read/learn/listen, the more intrigued I am by it all! So interested in your ultra training – it’s going to be an incredible challenge!


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