Jason wrote in with this question: I’m 45 years old and have been running distance for 23 years, coming up on notching my 50th marathon. I run with a half-dozen guys on weekend long runs. Last weekend we got into a rather heated discussion regarding the value of a mid-week longish run, i.e.7-12  miles. I’ve always tended to do a mid-week run in that range, and have felt it was a good “bridge” between weekend longer runs, but two of the guys in our group feel a mid-week run of that length is going to undermine the quality of hill and track workouts, which they feel are much more important than any old mid-week longish run. What do your experts feel about this?
     Thanks for your question, Jason.  First, of all, it’s obvious that after running for almost a quarter of a century and with you about to complete your 50th marathon, you’ve learned a thing or two about what works for you.  If you’ve been injury-free and feeling good, the best advice is to continue to do what you’re already doing.
     But on this specific point, I tend to side with your running pals, and here’s why: as I explain in Smart Marathon Training, I believe in purposeful training, where every workout has a defined goal which moves you closer to achieving your ultimate race-day, seasonal, or long term goal.  Most coaches would agree that the key running workouts are a long endurance run, speedwork or hills, and a tempo run.  Each of these workouts accomplishes a different goal, from building your endurance base, to building strength and speed, or to acclimatizing your body to the hard, sustained effort of a race.
     From what you’ve written, it seems like your group already does hill or speedwork, as well as a long run.  If your 7-12 miler is run at an easy pace, it isn’t really purposeful, in that it neither builds speed nor does it extend your endurance base.  (In my own coaching, though, I recommend significant cross-training to help build that endurace base and to minimize the risk of injury, so I don’t rely as much as other coaches on keeping the weekly running totals high).
Of course, there are other benefits to simply adding miles, such as improved running economy, and I don’t want to minimize the importance of simply running for the sheer joy of running.  But if your goal is to improve performance, an easy 7-12 miler isn’t doing much for you.  Now, if you were to push the pace of that run to 10-15 seconds faster than your target marathon pace, then you’d have a strong tempo run that would build additional fitness for you.
Good luck in running your milestone 50th!

About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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