This is a section on my blog where I answer questions people ask me. If you have any questions for future Ask Kikay Runner entries, email me, tweet me, or leave me a message on the Kikay Runner Facebook page.
Erik Valenzuela asks: Hi Noelle, what is your average weekly and monthly running mileage? During training and off/maintenance season?
Hi Erik! First of all, thanks for making a distinction between training and offseason — I can’t tell you how many times people think I’m a machine that can maintain huge weekly mileage all 52 weeks of a year.
During the offseason (which could last two weeks to a month for me), I’m not ashamed to say my average weekly running mileage could dip below 10 kilometers. I’m usually doing other activities to keep fit. Back when I had my job at the gym I would teach my dance and yoga classes for the week and that was it. These days though, I will probably still be doing some swimming, biking, and running, but definitely won’t be obsessing about run mileage or speed or amount of time. The offseason is when I give myself a break, physically and mentally, so that when the time comes to start training properly again I won’t be fatigued and will go into the training with gusto.
Last year during my training for Challenge Roth (an iron-distance race), my average running mileage was still pretty low (about 27 kilometers averaged weekly over the entire nine-month period) but that was because I was loading up more on swim and bike — and these also give me a good aerobic base. I think my longest run was 27 kilometers.
When I was training exclusively for running a marathon, my average mileage every week for 16 weeks was 30 kilometers, and my longest run was around 32 to 35 kilometers. That’s quite low for a marathon runner — but then I was also putting in at least 5 hours weekly of aerobic and high-intensity interval training due to dance classes.
I will admit I’ve let my run slack in the last few months and I can definitely benefit from putting a few more miles every week into these legs. But it’s not exactly just about adding mileage — it’s about the kind of mileage you do. I find that I can perform well and get by on less running (I can crack out a half-marathon any weekend) but the running I do has to be more intense in order for me to keep my speed — hills, intervals, speedwork. Quality over quantity if you have limited time, and I usually have only two run sessions every week.
But that’s what works for me, and as I’ve become aware, there are diminishing returns to this sort of thing. I may have to overhaul my running program and explore adding more mileage (and whether to add that mileage as separate sessions or lengthening existing sessions) as I build toward my next few races. But that’s the fun part of training — finding better ways of improving performance.