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The 100-mile club

October 29, 2011

The arrival of winter marks the start of the base-building period for marathon runners. Be it cross country races or longer training runs, the goal at this time is to build a solid base level of fitness in preparation for the dedicated marathon training in the New Year.

However, a couple of days after the Royal Parks Half-marathon, I came down with a cold. In the days following a hard run your immune system takes a knock, so it’s not unusual to come down with something after a bit race. Typically, I ran a little too early into my recovery, which shifted the cold on to my chest and means that it’s still tickling away (albeit much diminished) nearly two weeks later. Consigned to the armchair with several packs of tissues, some eucalyptus oils and several pots of lemon and ginger tea, I thought about how my training should pan out over the remaining weeks of the year.

In the run-up to the Royal Parks Half-marathon I’d really got into a good flow of running. I put this down to a few factors:

  1. I was running most days, either at lunchtime or after work, or to and from work, or taking long runs down the canal for around 16 miles. All of which meant that my shortest running day clocked up 7.25 miles, while a lot of days hit the double digits.
  2. During this period I clocked up a 61-mile week, which was the peak of my training. It combined a couple of long runs with two double-run days, so despite being a big week in volume, it wasn’t without tempo runs.
  3. On one afternoon I went for a run from work, but had forgotten my Garmin. Wanting to keep an eye on speed, I opted to run two laps of the outer circle at Regent’s Park using a stopwatch. Managing to keep the lap times within 10 seconds of each other I realised that this would be a useful way of breaking up a tempo run without feeling the urge to constantly check the pace. This 8.5-mile run featured a couple of times towards race day.
And, with these thoughts, came the idea of a challenge. Many serious runners break the 100-mile-a-week barrier in their training, but I think my current weekly mileage is probably somewhere around the average mark (depending on the week, it fluctuates between around 35 and 55 miles per week). So, what better way to get my base fitness up to scratch than to set myself the challenge of running a 100-mile week this side of New Year?
I’m in two minds about how to rack up the mileage. My first impression is below:
This gives a mini-spike in a couple of weeks’ time and a chance for my body to recover and get stronger before easing up to the big week just before Christmas. I feel like this might be the most sensible way of tackling the volume, although the volume cranks up fairly substantially before the target week.
However, an alternative that I’m not ruling out entirely is gradually working up, with each week covering more miles than the previous. It’s a distinctly non-cyclical approach, but may not necessarily give me the time I need to recover as the mileage builds.
I’ll probably play it by ear, and will blog about the challenge each week. I’m so far one run (just under 8 miles) away from my first week’s total (which has been reached fairly easily), so we’ll see how things go… Anyone else fancy joining in?
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