My highest mileage week ever was 158 miles and at the time I actually felt fresh, strong and up for more! Earlier this year, after returning from injury, I was struggling to run 40 miles in a week without feeling absolutely shattered and in need of an extra 20 hours sleep in the week. So, assuming I haven’t suddenly lost the ability to train hard, what’s the difference between the two weeks?
The answer is consistency, progression and my body’s current understanding of what is ‘normal’. I always say to runners on relatively low mileage that they’d be surprised what their bodies can actually handle. With some sensible small weekly increases, you can teach yourself to adapt to a new higher level of mileage that will soon become your new norm.
By simply adding a mile or two to your weekly long run and an extra mile to a couple of your midweek runs you can progress that weekly mileage without requiring any further sacrifice to your non-running commitments. This can be done a number of times before you have to possibly consider adding an extra run to your weekly schedule or even start thinking about ‘double’ days where you add in a shorter run on certain days at a recovery pace.
No matter how you go about upping your mileage, never try to introduce pace increases at the same time and pay attention to your body to ensure it is coping. If necessary maintain your new mileage for a few weeks before further increases in order for your body to adapt to the new level, I promise it won’t be long before what you once thought was an unobtainable training level is your new standard week!