I have been wondering for a while now what would happen if I ran 150 miles in a week. Would I get injured? Would my body just fall apart? Would I mentally lose interest in running? So I set out to do it. First though, I needed a solid base. I didn’t want to run 150 miles from nowhere. This blog details how I got to a 155 mile week by the second week of March.
I’ve been a runner for over 35 years. However, I haven’t really focused on marathon and now ultra marathon distances until recently. I ran my first marathon in 2003 but by 2007 I wasn’t racing or running distances longer than 8 to 9 miles. In my mind I was retired from running but working out for the fun of it and for health. In 2017 I began training for a marathon again. My first marathon back didn’t go so well. I dropped out halfway into it. I realized from that experience that my training had to be better if I wanted to run long distances fast.
In the past four years I have been steadily working on my base and foundation. My mileage has increased and my body has responded. I am stronger. Each marathon training cycle I did gave me an opportunity to increase intensity and mileage. In my first marathon training cycle I maxed out around 80 miles in a week. Compare that to what I did in my last marathon training cycle and you’ll see that I maxed out at 121 miles. That’s 41 miles more!
I trained for my first 100 mile race this past fall. I did a max week of 122 miles in training. While I did complete the 100 mile race, I did not come close to my time goal. I was several hours short. Was it my training? My mind kept coming back to….I didn’t train enough to hit my time goal. Therefore, I set out with some new goals for 2021. My mileage goal is to run 5,000 miles for the year. I also want to set a new personal best in weekly mileage and third get a FKT (Fastest Known Time) on the White Pine Trail in Michigan. The White Pine Trail is about 93 miles long.
My first week in January was only 87 miles but I have been gradually adding mileage every week. I finally hit 155 miles this past week (second week of March). The good news is I am injury free and still feel motivated to train and hit my goals. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be running this much. I had my doubts. I had my concerns. Most of what I read out there would say “I shouldn’t do this” or “didn’t need to do this”. Yet, how was I suppose to know what my body was capable of, what I am capable of if I listened to all the articles and “experts”?
This week hasn’t been easy. I had to wake up really early to get the miles in. There were hours and hours of running a day. The schedule is always the hardest part. I have a full time job and family to take care of. Second, you have to stay on top of recovery. Ice, compression, massage, and nutrition are very important so that your body is ready to go for the next day. Lastly, you have listen well to your body. Some days you can push further and other days you have to know when to “stop”. Mostly, though, I have had to conquer my mind and push further.
I’ve learned my body is way stronger and capable of way more than I could have ever imagined. While I won’t be running this much mileage every single week, I know now to not be afraid of 150 plus mile weeks. To avoid injury and burnout, I will be backing off a little bit and then cranking it back up one last time before my race day. After race day I will fall back to my base mileage.
What has it been like to run 155 miles? Sitting here today and looking back on the week, it doesn’t feel much different than on the weeks I ran 143, or 136, or 121. My body has responded well. The biggest barrier was mental, was grit, was determination, and patience to do my workouts correctly. For example, not rushing an easy day by pushing the pace just because I could; so that I could be done sooner. It was better to take more time running at a slower pace so my body wouldn’t have as much stress placed on it.
Maybe elite level mileage isn’t just for elites? What if more of us could be pushing through to new levels but we are being held back by old habits, super conservative coaching and tips, and fear after fear. When you think about it, records are being broken all the time these days. Elite runners are even running further distances faster than though possible. But how? These guys and gals are exploring new depths in training and aren’t as afraid to do so. They push each other to be better. I think it is time we follow suit if it is our goal to break records as well. A 155 mile week may sound strange for a guy like me but in 10 years from now…….it might be the new norm for a really large group of guys that aren’t even paid and sponsored professional runners. Is a 150 mile week for you? Well…..there really may only be one way to find out. Build up to one and get it done!