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As I’m ramping up my mileage again, I was talking with Chris at physical therapy about what to do after our session. I wanted to run a few easy miles, he said stairmaster or two 800s at a fast tempo, despite running my 1×1 mile workout the previous day. Then he made a statement I thought was kind of weird.

I don’t believe in slow miles.  I’d rather see you run short, intense workouts.

Uh, what?  Hey Chris, I’m training for a marathon.  You know, 26.2 miles.  Short intense workouts aren’t going to prepare me for 26.2 moderate paced miles.  Right?  Right?

I’m still hung up on the short conversation we had (I ran 2x800m, by the way) and I can’t quite wrap my brain around it.  He said training for anything is about intensity.  How do we adjust intensity?  Well there’s plenty of ways — incline vs. no incline, varying terrain, even footwear, weather, etc. and it doesn’t just have to be about long, slow miles.

I found a couple articles that somewhat explains it pretty effectively on Competitor and No Meat Athlete.

I suppose it makes sense, especially when you see so many runners have overuse injuries.  It’s just really hard to hear when everything I’ve known has been building up the longer runs to train for a marathon and mentally, I will need to see a 20-miler under my belt to know I can do it, especially when I’m trying to not hit the wall (and probably hitting the wall).

I think the article on NMA explains it a little better when he mentions decreased strength, power, and speed.  These are three things we have been hammering on in PT lately.  I’ve been spending an hour or do doing plyometric single leg drills, squat jumps, etc. to gain power and it’s funny to see me do these because that’s just it — I have no power.  Without power, I’m definitely not as fast as I could be and as I’m making gains in these areas, things aren’t hurting like they did.

I casually mentioned that I had also created my own training plan, combining a few training plans because some didn’t have speed work and some I just didn’t care for the speed work or it was too many days of running.  Apparently that wasn’t wise either because each plan has a goal and it’s basically like combining 3 recipes from different cooks for the same food — it’s not going to end up well (in my experience, this actually has ended up well with food, but I won’t mention that!)

What do you think?

Do you buy into less mileage on long runs and making every run “count”, or would you rather continue running 15-20 miles average for a long run and screw anyone who thinks otherwise?

Considering it can take me two full days to recover from a hard track workout, I’m not sure I can handle 3-4 hard runs per week without burning myself out!