Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Runner's Mythology Part 1

Receiving information about another runner's training can be a double-edged sword. It can provide helpful insights into their success and at the same time potentially send you down a destructive path.

Take high mileage for example. Learning that one runner benefits from 100 mile weeks might make another runner, like me, eager to work up to that type of weekly distance. Anecdotal evidence certainly shows that elite runners who run consistently high mileage perform at a higher level than those that do not. The renaissance of American distance running (its probably too early to call it that but I'm an optimist) is most likely due in part to emulating the altitude and high mileage training of elite runners in other parts of the world. But not every runner is built to run 100 mile or more weeks. Trying to build up to that type of workload may put a runner on a path to injury after injury, stress fractures, etc.

I always have to remind myself why I choose to train the way I do when I hear or read what other trail racers are doing. There is plenty of information on training practices out there on blogs and in interviews and bantered back and forth after races. Recently a series of comments from friends and competitors made me start thinking about high mileage again. Then I read Jean Pommier's excellent interview with Graham Cooper and read a few tidbits about Graham's training - low mileage and lots of cross-training. The best thing about the Internet is there is always fodder for any viewpoint! I would venture a guess that the volume of Graham's training, measured in duration of effort, is equal to that of most high mileage runners.

In the end if you are not getting paid to train and race than it had better be something you love and enjoy. I'm not sure what my life would be like without running and I don't want to have to find out!

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