I built my plan to qualify for Boston with a key focus on bumping up my mileage, and in a drastic manner. I picked up Jack Daniels’ book “Daniels’ Running Formula: Proven programs 800m to the marathon” on January 1, 2012. I had not intended to make any New Year’s Resolutions (and will still argue this goal is not a resolution). This is a dream that happened to materialize into a concrete goal, complete with a plan on how to get there, at about the same time that everyone else was setting new years resolutions.
Goal: Qualify for the Boston marathon (on May 6, 2012).
Plan: Essentially, run more (like, big time).
Now, I am fully aware that not everyone would agree this is the best method to running a faster marathon. In fact, how many kilometres to run per week, along with how many quality pace sessions (aka speed workouts, intervals, tempos, race pace workouts, fartleks, ect) to incorporate and where, are major issues of debate in the running world. Daniels tells us that in order to optimize performance as a marathoner you need to run anywhere between 112km to 240km per week (70 to 150 miles). Huh, considering over the past 8 years the most distance I’ve run in a week averaged at best 40km per week and tops out at just under 65km (and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve logged even that many kilometres in one week), according to Daniels’ I need look no further to why my marathon goals have been eluding me.
Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald, in “Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to be Your own Best Coach”, break down ideal marathon training mileage into what type of runner you are:
Beginner: 64km to 80km (40-50 miles)
Low Key Competitive: 80km to 96 km (50-60 miles)
Competitive: 96km to 112km (60-70 miles)
Highly Competitive: 128km to 144km (80-90 miles)
Elite: 176km to 208km (110-130 miles)
I like how Hudson and Fitzgerald break it down into what type of runner you are, and I can imagine that Daniels is certainly referring to the established and serious runner when he outlines his numbers of 112km to 240km per week for optimal performance. But Daniels is quick to point out that all runners are different: some running for many years while others only a few, some once running a higher mileage but have now cut back, and everyone has a genetic factor that will affect how well their bodies can handle the stress of mileage. You need to listen to your body and be intuitive about mileage.
So I’m going to try bumping up my mileage, having logged 70km the first week of January and 90km last week. So far, I feel fantastic – this running thing just keeps getting better. Plus I feel I am tracking positively towards my goal. It actually feels realistic. I’ve decided I’ll top out at 140km. But my body may tell me different… And I’m definitely listening.