I ran. I conquered.
This week I ran 60 miles. My schedule called for 48. Up to this point I have observed and adhered to my training schedule with the piety of a monk. The results have been great thus far so why change the game?
At the start of the running week on Tuesday I was in Imperial for a certification test for work. The written exam was at 7:00 AM and the performance exam at 11:00. I knew I would have some time to kill and that the Bogg's Road trailhead for the Montour Run Trail was around 1 mile from the test location. I packed a running bag and some extra food. At 7:20 I had confidently completed the written portion of the exam. With 3 hours to kill I bumped my Wednesday tempo run up to Tuesday and decided to go for 10-12 miles (6 were planned) with the intention of trimming miles from the rest of the weekday runs.
During that run I remembered an article about high volume and high intensity training weeks. The thought kept coming back to me throughout my weekday runs (which I hadn't reduced mileage on.)
Friday, I found out I would need to go into work Saturday to stay ahead of the game. At that point, I decided to split my long run into 2. My schedule said 20 miles. I managed 15 that AM in the city. A few hours later I went out to the Montour Run Trail to finish up with 7 for a total of 22. It really amazed me how a short break re-energized me. I finished that run feeling fresh and all around great. All was going better than good so I figured I'd make it a high volume week. On Sunday I ran 7 miles of trail at Boyce Park and later that day ran 6 in Oakmont and Verona wrapping up the week at 60.5 miles. A weekly mileage PR for me by a long shot.
So what is the deal with a high volume week?
Studies of athletes training at high altitude compared to those training at sea level showed that high intensity and/or volume of workouts could yield just as much gains in VO2 max and strength as altitude training.
Here is the article:
Get faster and stronger with high-intensity and volume training
Increasing mileage by 40-50% for a week is a huge jump. Most sources recommend no more than a 10% mileage increase per week. The main risk, of course, is injury. If you are to incorporate a high volume week you need a strong base behind you and a good bit of rest in front of you.
What I learned
This week I surpassed my highest planned mileage week in this 24 week training cycle. First off, this builds confidence. I know I can handle those back to back long runs and high mileage weeks now. I no longer have that looming fear: How am I going to find the time and run that kind of load? I know how now AND I did it working 6 days a week 9+ hours a day.
I now understand the huge benefit in double sessions and plan to use them more.
I am seeing the benefits in running most of my training at easy effort, Z2 by heart rate zones.
These lessons are becoming internalized with each success. When it comes to distance running confidence is something learned over time as these successes amass. As it builds, things which seemed impossible become entirely attainable provided the hard work is put in.
After this huge week I skipped crosstraining and took Monday as a rest day. Tuesday I went out and got 4 miles in. I felt a little sore, but not too bad. After that run a had a hell of a migraine and was run down. I took Wednesday and Thursday off. I have no issue with taking extra rest days when needed. It is all about the long game and being ready for the big races ahead.
On Wednesday I stopped at Elite Runners & Walkers in Robinson to get my packet for the Just a Short Run 30k. I talked with Matt Imhoff about the high volume week and afterwards. He felt that I would feel more like myself around 4 days out from the big week. That seems to be holding true. He also felt I would gain a good bit of strength from a week like that (though typically he wouldn't recommend it) and would come out all the stronger.
It is now Thursday. I foam rolled this AM. No soreness anywhere. I feel strong, but still a bit sleepy. I am looking to run 2 light miles to shake out tomorrow and then hit the 30k! I won't be racing the 30k. Just using it as a fun training run for the marathons and 50k ahead.
Happy running and training to all of you out there!