Tuesday, 29 November 2011

What?! I've been doing it all wrong?!

Did you ever think that you were training as best as you could.....only to find out that you've been going about it in COMPLETELY the wrong way?

It's been a year and a half since I've been training with the goal of running a sub-2:00 half marathon. This is partly due to an injury which knocked me out for about 6 months, and more recently a bad cold at the worst possible time.

But since my injury I really have been trying hard to get into top form. I spent most of 2011 just trying to build up my running foundations. When I trained for Dublin I increased my weekly running volume to an average of about 30-35 miles a week (compared to 15-20 miles when I trained for my previous halfs). I made sure I was getting some strength training and core work through pilates. I was doing my best to eat right and get enough rest.

Three half marathons later, I still hadn't broken the 2 hour mark but I really felt that it was just a matter of time and I'd beat it one day soon.

So as I've started train for my 5th half marathon with the same exact goal, I thought it would be a good time to do some reading on how to become a better runner. The book "Run Faster" caught my eye--partly because it was recommended by @JasonFitz1 on his website Strength Running, partly because what I want to do is in the title. I want to RUN FASTER!

I'm still trying to digest all the information and tips in the book (I'll be reviewing it in the next few weeks, so stay tuned) but one thing in particular has struck me so far.

I'm WAY OFF where I need to be if I want to run faster.

In the book there's a chart on the optimal running volume for different race distances based on your level. I was shocked to find that what I considered to be my highest weekly volume ever (just under 40 miles) is what's expected of a beginner! As a "competitive" runner with a few years training and the ambition to improve, my optimal running volume is 50-60 miles per week.

50-60 miles. I just couldn't believe it. I've never been anywhere near that kind of running volume.

And now I feel like I've spent the last year and a half just going through the motions of trying to break that sub-2:00. Like based on my training there was never any real chance I was going to run under 2 hours anyway. Like I've wasted 3 chances because I wasn't running nearly enough.

I know my sub-2:00 failures are not down to running volume alone but this really did surprise me. I guess because in some ways I'm still a beginner after all! So now that I know, for THIS half marathon getting my running volume up will be a big focus for me.

If I've been doing things wrong up till now, I can only improve.....right?

Here's to attempt #5!


  1. Good post. It is important to remember that there are several ways to train. The key thing is to choose one method and stick with it (at least for one race), otherwise you risk doing lots of different types of training poorly, as opposed to one method well.

    To give you a bit of faith that you are not as far away as you may think, I have run several sub 2hr half's all on about 20-30 miles per week.

    Volume of course is a factor, as is speed, long runs and regular training. In addition to the other elements you mentioned above, such as rest, strength training, diet etc.

    Keep up the good work, you are not as far away from that elusive sub 2 hr half as you may think! @runrforlife

  2. I've looked at a couple of the training books I've got and 40 miles a week for a half marathon is plenty, even for a full marathon! Matts comments on twitter are very valid, he is this years UKnetrunner Club Captain after all so knows a thing or two. Your next half isn't until the new year is it so be careful not to overtrain, I'd hate you to have a repeat of your injury. Take care, John

  3. @Runner795

    Thanks for taking the time to check some of your other training books, John. I totally agree...the last thing I want is to get another injury! And I didn't know that Matt was UKnetrunner Club Captain! He seemed to know what he was talking about (as do you!)