Surviving High Mileage Training Weeks – Weekly Recap – 7.19.20

This week, we were back up to high mileage training.  I’ve been anxious to see big numbers in my training, and I’m definitely starting to feel like I’m really training for an ultra-marathon.  As part of my training, I had previously thought about doing a 100 mile week as a fun challenge for myself, after watching Ethan Newberry document his 100 mile for his YouTube show The Ginger Runner.  After the murder of Vanessa Guillen, I started to consider how I might be able to bring more awareness to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  It’s an issue that is incredibly close to my heart, and I’ve always wanted to contribute in some way. 

After chatting with a few friends, I decided to dedicate each mile of my 100 mile week to a MMIW, and to try to pair them with 100 individuals sponsoring each mile.  I set up a GoFundMe to benefit the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and I’m currently asking anyone who is interested to contribute or share this fund raising campaign.  If you want to read more about what I am doing, take a look at my Instagram account, where I’m sharing more information.  I would love to see this message amplified, so please share it!

My son had camp at our gym for part of this week, and it was really nice to have just a little bit of quiet for a couple of days.  And I know he’s really missed seeing friends every day, so I’m glad he had an opportunity to socialize with a small group of kids.  The gym also hosted a Parents Night Out on Saturday, which meant my husband and I got to go on a date!  It’s been our first chance since moving in Jan to go out just the two of us.  We had a couple of beers and appetizers at a restaurant, so nothing crazy, but it was fun to have some one on one time.  We’re currently looking for a house, so we got to talk a lot about some options that we’re interested in.  Big things coming!

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The rest of the week was pretty standard for us. I’ve been running a high mileage training plan on and off for the last two years, so I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at this whole running a lot thing. I know it’s not the only way to get stronger or faster, and high mileage does not work well for a lot of people. Time and injury are often the biggest hurdles to high volume training. I have a couple of tips that I think have helped me to be successful with this kind of training, and honestly I just really enjoy running a lot. It takes me more miles than the average human to work out all of the crazy that goes on in my head, I guess. So I thought this week I’d share some of those little things that helped me run a lot of miles, avoid overuse injury, and stay reasonably healthy through it.

Surviving High Mileage Training Weeks

Over the last two years, I have found a lot of success in following the Hansons Marathon Method for my marathon racing.  The training plan involves much higher weekly mileage than most marathon programs.  Then, I recently shifted over to ultra-marathon training, and decided to continue following a fairly high mileage training protocol.  Running more miles in training can mean your body is more prepared to run long distances come race day.  It’s used to running on fatigued legs, and fitness has likely been improved substantially over the course of training.

There are certainly other ways to train for an endurance race.  In fact, there are so many different training methods, I wrote an entire post about some of the most popular programs.  And while high mileage training is effective, it’s not always the most efficient method.  But if you are someone who is slightly insane and really likes hard efforts and long runs, high volume training might be worth a shot!  If you’re considering a training plan that programs lots of miles, here’s a few of my favorite tips to help prevent overuse injury and training burnout.

Tips for Surviving High Mileage Training Weeks

Manage Intensity
You know the sign that has the three words “fast, cheap, high quality, pick two”?  High mileage training is kind of like that.  If you want to run a lot, you probably can’t run really hard very often.  Now that’s not to say that you can’t throw in a speed workout on a weekly basis.  But it does mean that you need stop running an imaginary race every morning, and let your easy runs actually be easy.  It can be a shot to the ego to see a slower than usual pace on your Garmin watch, but keep in mind that ego’s are usually the best navigators. 

Fuel & Hydrate Intelligently
Nothing can derail a long effort like poor fueling.  That wall every marathoner dreads?  It’s mostly energy depletion.  And with high mileage training weeks, it’s not just your fueling during your runs that you need to be mindful of.  You have to be on top of eating enough calories to allow your body to recover from those long efforts.  Interestingly, this might mean a change in your weight that you weren’t anticipating with all the mileage your throwing down.  Don’t let the scale discourage you; it’s to be trusted as much as infomercials that guarantee wealth and power if you just make 80 easy payments of $200. 

Related Post: Complete Guide to Running Fuel

You might want to track your intake for a couple of days just to make sure you’re taking in enough calories.  Sometimes running for more than an hour can actually suppress your appetite, so it can be nice to have a little data to help inform you.  Not fueling enough throughout the week can lead to a ton of problems like reduced recovery, decreased performance, hormone imbalances, and in really bad cases Relative Energy Deficiency in sport (or RED-S).  The consequences of under-fueling can go a lot deeper than slower finishing times.  If you want to read more about these issues, check out my post on Under-fueling, Overtraining, and Running Nutrition.

Reduce Lifestyle Stress
High volume is a stressor on the body, and often times your body can’t distinguish physical stress from emotional stress.  Your body processes all these types of stress in the same way; by changing your hormones and body chemistry.  And honestly, that’s part of the point for high mileage training.  You want to stress the body, so that it can learn to adapt.  But if you stress it too much, your body starts to struggle with recovering.  Which is why it is so important to make sure you’re managing your lifestyle stress well when you’re running a lot.

Make sure that you have adequate downtime, have outlets for managing stress that are not just running (like therapy or meditation), and that you ask for help when you need a little support.  During my high mileage weeks, I have to be mindful to communicate exactly what I need to my husband.  His efforts at learning to mindread haven’t been successful, unfortunately, so if I need him to take over our 7 year old’s bedtime routine so that I can go to sleep early, I need to ask.  I’ve also found it really beneficial to take a PTO day here and there just to have a little more downtime.  I mean, what’s better than a free Friday, am I right?

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Incorporate Strength Training Consistently
It can be really tempting to want to run and sleep and eat and not do much else during high mileage training weeks. But this is a HUGE mistake. While you may need to reduce intensity, reps, or weights during higher mileage training weeks, do not give in to the temptation to cut strength training all together. Running is a demanding activity, and you need to make sure your core, hamstrings, calves, and quads can support your body. Unfortunately, more running won’t help keep these muscles strong, putting them at risk for overuse injury. Making sure to incorporate strength training at least three times a week can go a long to way to preventing this. If you need some ideas, head over to my Workouts Page.

Include Core Work and Stretching
And while we’re talking about strength training, let’s not forget the importance of the accessory work in a training program: core workouts and stretching.  A whole host of issues and imbalances can crop up as a result of weak core muscles.  Hip tilts, pelvic floor issues, and lower back issues can all be a result of a weak core.  Do you need to do crunches every day?  No, but make sure to do a few sets of exercises dedicated to strengthening your abs, hips, and glutes a few times a week. 

Similarly, make sure your routine includes stretching.  Lots of running can mean shortened muscles, which changes your running form and stride.  Once again, a recipe for making you more susceptible to injury.  It also makes you more likely to hobble around like a 90 year old, which is probably not much fun, either.  Yoga with Adriene is a great, free resource for warm-up and cooldown mobility routines, as well as 20-30 minute stretching sessions.

Embrace the Lap
The lunchtime run is affectionately known as the “runch.”  Well, in Texas running at noon during the Summer is not a palatable option.  Instead, I’ve embraced the lunchtime nap, or “lap.”  It’s a great way to recover after a tough morning run, and still have energy to get in a strength workout, or just be a human being in the evening.  Sleep isn’t even required.  Just 30 minutes of laying with your feet up can be incredibly restoring, and will help you survive the rest of the weeks miles.

This Weeks Workouts

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Total Miles: 68
Total Workouts: 4
50 Mile Training, Week 9
How the Runs Felt
Got in so many trail miles this week!  Sunday was a second long run for me, and I actually missed a turn on the trail, and ended up having to walk about .75 miles back to the trail head.  If I hadn’t been so pooped from Saturday’s run, I probably would have just ran it out.  But I was exhausted, and I knew I had a hill workout the next day.  Monday, I went back out to the powerlines for 6 miles of hill work during my 10 mile run.  My pace was slower this week than previous weeks.  My body is fairly used to high mileage training, but in all honesty these back to back longish runs are still pretty tough.

Wednesday was a fairly routine run at the wilderness trails near home, and Thursday I actually ran on the pavement. I went out to the Leon Creek Greenway so I could do my speed workout for the week without having to worry about the hills near me. This was the first speed workout I’ve had in about a month, since last month’s workouts were mostly focused on hill running. In all honesty, it took my legs a few reps to figure out that they needed to move faster, but once I got the turnover going, things went pretty smoothly. Friday was back on the wilderness trails to wrap up my work week.

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And then it was time for another long run.  I’m pretty comfortable with distances up to about 15 miles on the trails, and that last 3 miles of my long run this week were HARD.  I went a little light on the fueling, and I think next week I’ll be more mindful about it.  I carried plenty with me; I was just lazy about actually eating.  Not smart.  I had to do three loops on the wilderness trails near our home to get all 18 miles, and I was not super enthusiastic about that last loop.  The first mile is the most challenging with a few sets of stairs and climbing, and I was moving pretty slow by that point.  This was my longest trail run since my virtual race a couple of months ago, and I’m really proud of where I’m at fitness-wise.  But I know the next couple of months are going to be hard training and lots of miles.

Overall, I liked the variety of my workouts this week, but I can see my pace starting to dip a little, and I know my body is getting fatigued.  Hopefully that means I won’t have such a hard time resting during my next down week.

What I’ve Been Listening To
I finished up Guru, and man it was so bananas.  10/10 recommend.  I also listened to a series about the history of Residential Schools in Canada.  If you’re not familiar, they were institutional schools built to “re-educate” Native and Inuit children.  They were highly abusive and destroyed the students connection to their cultural heritage.  Sadly, a lot of parents did not give consent or permission, and their children were essentially taken unlawfully.  These schools existed until 1996, which absolutely blows my mind.  If you want to learn more, the podcast is called Residential Schools, and is told in first person narrative by those who survived.  I also started the second season of Up and Vanished; another one of my true crime series.

How the WODs felt
My workouts this week felt pretty tough. I don’t think I was moving too fast after my mileage increase this week, and I had to spend a lot more time warming up. The joints were definitely feeling a few years older than they did a couple weeks ago! There were a lot of barbell-focused workouts this week, and I did not hate it. My home workout this week was a much needed lower intensity one after 12 tougher miles in the morning.

What Went Well
I stuck to my training plans, got in a good amount of core work and stretching, and kept my pacing reasonable. I honestly love high mileage weeks, but I can see my body working harder when I look at my paces. The next two months are going to be higher mileage than I’ve ever run, and I’m not letting myself get frustrated with slowing down.

What Went Shitty
Despite all of the stretching this week, my hip flexors have been really tight.  I feel like it’s causing some issues with my hips staying even, and it’s something that will need some attention over the next couple of weeks.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week, I’ll keep up with the high mileage, and plan to keep increasing my calories to make sure I don’t get run down.

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