MarathonMaiden's Blog

January 25, 2010

What makes a high mileage runner?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 11:16

I’m still dealing with computer issues UGH.  These rounds are 100% not related to last week’s though and I’m hoping that it will get solved soon.  The computer people seem to think it’ll be okay soon so fingers crossed!

Since I last posted I’ve been feeling pretty good .  After Saturday’s beastly 17 I wasn’t sore at all.  Very surprising because when I got to my mom’s house I had all intentions of stretching and icing butttt that never happened.  Oops.  Instead I just bummed around.  And later I went out shopping and bought another pair of shoes.  Kohl’s was having a sale of running shoes and I found a pair I liked.  Not my usual shoes (I like New Balance 769 and these are Asics Kanbarra(?) ) and they aren’t a “W” (wide) but they will work.  I won’t race in them but they’ll be good for training. I also scored tons of free food.  I should go home more often to help with my grocery budget heh.

My runs since Saturday have been okay.  I think the killer paces that me and Lacey hit at the end took a lot out of my legs.  At least that’s how it felt because both runs were at 9:20 which is much faster than past recovery/easy runs have been. Guess fast running begets fast running. And as a final note the temps were a complete 180* from each other: Sunday morning I had 10* and this morning was 55*.  Seriously New England: I want consistency!

Any way back to the title of the post. This has been a question on my mind lately.  It’s kind of akin to the former fat kid who is now skinny but still feels like a fat kid.  I still feel like a newbie runner.

Maybe a little bit ridiculous as I’ve been running for at least 5 years and even longer if you count sports that include running.  Sure I’ve only been racing for 2.5 years (because I’m not counting high school track which was a joke for me) but even that is kind of a long time.  So why do I not see myself as experienced? Maybe because during those 2.5 years I’ve only done…maybe 8 races? Definitely not double digits yet for sure.

But to look at my training log a different story unfolds.  I’ve put in such hard training and over the past year my mileage has soared (clearly as I hit 3116 miles in 2009).  And I’m not just talking about the recent HUGE weeks.  I remember in the beginning of last year thinking that I would peak for my marathon at ~55 miles.  I peaked at around ~73 (I forget the exact figure but 73 sticks into my mind for some reason). And I loved it and thrived in it.  But still I never really thought of 73 miles as a lot.  Yes it is a lot but it just felt like something needed to be done to get my goal of finishing my marathon (and I’ll admit a debut BQ was a goal too) so I never really thought of it a “high miles”

I also remember when 5 miles felt like the longest run ever.  Now it feels like a warm up.  To stand here at a point where I can bang out 2 weeks of double digit runs everyday and recall this is fascinating to me.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve come so far. I can remember the progression semi-well though.  I remember the first time I ran 75 minutes without stopping and then expanded that each week a little bit.  It’s kind of like the adage of cooking a frog: put him in the pot and then boil the water rather than just throwing  him in with the boiling water.  Of course the adage is more succinct than that I’m sure. Oh the power of paraphrasing.

And yet I don’t think of myself in terms of a high mileage runner.  Even when I write out weekly recaps and total my distances over time.  But, I’m sure it’s pretty obvious, that I really am a high mileage runner.  Looking at this summer when I was running 55-60 mile weeks and not training for anything and still pretty fresh from the marathon.  And this fall when I hit 60 often and then 70 and culminating with my finals week with an 80.6 mile run.  Nothing low mileage about it.

Maybe it’s because I’m not hitting 100 mile weeks, which *really* signals high miles.  Who knows.  It did take me a while to wear the term “runner” with pride and not feel like a fraud.  It was during my senior year when I would go out for runs on top of my bball practices because I just wanted to run.  And then it was reinforced after the season ended and I didn’t have a real reason to run because I didn’t have a sport to stay in shape for but I still ran anyway.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was a gradual thing rather than BAM I’m a runner. Maybe this will be something similar.  Maybe the shift is already happening and it’ll take awhile for it to click. I have noticed during these first few weeks of Boston training that my body is acting like a high mileage runner and responding as such but my mind isn’t there yet.  Not ready I suppose to “accept” the title even though my body is already there.

This kind of “label” is different from racer which I knew I was when I finished my first race and felt like I had nothing left to give in my body. But I think it’s starting  because I take pride in the fact that I can go out there and put a 13 or so in the books without batting an eye.  And I’d enjoy it too.  I know lots of runners who think a 6 mile run is a long run and that my 13+ is crazy talk.  I have a friend who is 400m runner for her school and is like that.

I guess I don’t have a concrete point here, more just musings because I’m grappling with the whole “high mileage runner” term that I hear thrown around.  So much of it is relative and based on personal history / experience.  Since I clearly have no answers I’m going to throw this question back at you: When did you realize that you were a runner?  What does high mileage mean to you? Do you consider yourself high mileage?

EDIT: Lacey emailed me the pic of my shoes so here it is:

Yes I know that they look terrible and worn and what not but they don’t cut up my heels at all so they still feel fine.  Oh justification hehe

Woot to 2000+ miles

Me and my shoes 🙂

Double Edit: Blogspot isn’t letting me comment on your blogs at the moment! Hopefully that gets fixed soon because I’m not ignoring you 🙂

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22 Comments »

  1. Feel free to consider yourself a high mileage runner. I sure do! You logging over 3100 miles last year is something very few recreational runners ever accomplish. The volume we put in may not be much compared to those who make a living doing this, but it’s really darn good for those of us have school or careers to juggle.

    Comment by The Puerto Rican Kenyan — January 25, 2010 @ 12:01

  2. You’re unbelievable (and pretty!). Don’t you dare say you’re a newbie! I guess it goes to show one thing: you’re humble.

    Comment by EE — January 25, 2010 @ 12:09

  3. Yay to 769’s! I haven’t ran in NB in a few years but I wore 764’s during XC my senior year of high school.

    As far as being a runner goes…there are days when I don’t feel like one, and this is my 9th year running! I’ve run dozens of races (I count hs because I got 4 letters in xc and 2 in track)…I don’t think that makes you a runner. I’m not sure when I considered myself a runner. I’ll have to think about that one. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a high mileage runner, at least not yet 🙂

    That being said, you are an awesome runner! I get a lot of inspiration from reading your blog/comments in my blog. Thanks!

    Comment by Nick — January 25, 2010 @ 12:41

  4. Hi Karyn,

    I’ve been reading for a little while so I thought I would pop in and comment on this one. I’ve been running for 15 years. My high school trained at (I didn’t know it then, but I see it now) low mileage and high intensity, topping out at 25-30 mpw. I didn’t run in college, but I gradually built up to about 50 mpw. During grad school I started training for marathons- my peak weeks were about 70 miles, and I definitely did consider myself a high mileage runner at that point, even though there are certainly women that go significantly higher. From what I have heard from friends who did compete in college xc, 60-70 is pretty normal for what they did (although Angela Bizzarri is a notable example who runs much less).

    While I would enjoy running more miles, I’ve had multiple stress fractures in the last couple of years (6 total), so I don’t intend to push my peak weeks higher than 70- I’ll be training for triathlons too, so I get the satisfaction of being a high mileage triathlete since they typically run much less 😉

    I hope you continue to stay healthy, and don’t stress out too much if you don’t hit some particular mileage target, or if you just need to break that streak. Easier said than done, I know. The problem with the internet is that it’s easy to dwell on the people who run faster or more miles, forgetting that what you’re doing is already *very* special. (This is especially important if you do end up in med school/grad school/demanding job with a less forgiving schedule.) Good luck!

    (p.s. If you need someone else to do Boston-area runs with, I’m game!)

    Comment by kristinschleicher — January 25, 2010 @ 14:07

  5. Way to go on the rockin’ long run. You’ve certainly made amazing progress over the last couple years. You are definitely a runner!

    Comment by EarlyRunner — January 25, 2010 @ 15:47

  6. That’s an absolutely INSANE number of miles. I know people who don’t drive that many miles in a year. Fantastic job!

    Comment by David Dierking — January 25, 2010 @ 16:19

  7. Amazing amazing long run!!! Great job 🙂

    Comment by Runeatrepeat — January 25, 2010 @ 16:57

  8. Very nice. I know what you mean (to a lesser degree) about labels. LOL on the friends thinking 13+ miles is crazy. People looked at me sideways today once they realized I did an HM yesterday. They kept asking “Are you alright???” Ha!

    Comment by A Marathoner — January 25, 2010 @ 17:16

  9. Haha I totally remember when 5 miles was beastly. I guess its all relative to what a long-distance runner really is. And really hope your blogging issues clear up soon!

    Comment by Kathleen — January 25, 2010 @ 17:44

  10. You are so right. Mileage is all relative. I was a sprinter in school so never approached the mileage I do now. And now even in marathon training I don’t consider myself anywhere near high mileage. Now you my dear are a different story–high mileage for sure. Newbie, I think not. Enjoy the new shoes!

    Comment by Teamarcia — January 25, 2010 @ 17:52

  11. I’ve considered myself a runner since I started running xc in high school so I guess that’s going on 12 years now. I also ran xc in college (although I was not that fast at all) but didn’t start training for 1/2 & full marathons until about 3 or 4 years ago.

    To me, high mileage is 50+ mpw so yes, in my book, you’re definitely high mileage! Unfortunately, my body cannot handle more than 40 mpw as I’ve experienced several times with multiple stress fractures, one even leading to pins in my hip. I can really only run 3-4x/wk with my mileage b/w 30-40 mpw without getting injured but this seems to work for me as I’ve run a 3:34 marathon & 1:38 1/2 marathon. I’m really not trying to brag but I think it is possible to run well with lower mileage…at least that’s what I keep telling myself 🙂 Awesome job on your mileage though & keep it up…I’m just jealous I can’t run as much I’d like too!

    Comment by Jenny — January 25, 2010 @ 18:27

  12. When you’re hitting 3000 plus miles a year you are definitely absolutely a high mileage runner! I think being a high mileage runner and an experienced runner can be two different things though. (And you don’t have to do lots and lots of races to be a “real” runner). There’s plenty of people who run short distances consistently, and I still consider them runners even if they aren’t getting 25+ miles a week.

    Comment by Heather — January 25, 2010 @ 18:40

  13. Running high miles has to be gradual or you risk injury. You are definitely a hardcore runner!

    Comment by Jess — January 25, 2010 @ 21:34

  14. Girlie you are a Distance Runner for sure!!…I know what you mean though, I still consider myself a swimmer…even though I only swim once a week and have lost all my swimmer type muscles. I usually run 4 times a week…and don’t consider myself a runner yet. I’m having clearly having an ‘identity crisis’ too! 🙂 haha nooo big deal though I’m sure we’ll both figure out what we ‘are’ soon enough! I hope you have a great tuesday! xoxo!

    Comment by Lizzy — January 25, 2010 @ 22:04

  15. Wow, that’s a long run! I can’t run that long, I can’t seem to find the time to! (I’m a super slow runner). Also, I’m pretty sure I will pass out not even half-way, hee hee. I’d love to build myself up to your level one day though!

    Comment by sophia — January 26, 2010 @ 00:42

  16. It’s funny b/c it seems that I consider ‘high mileage’ higher than wherever I am. For example, when I was at 50, ‘high mileage’ was 60. Then when I was at 80, I considered it 100. I think you see the trend here. My take? Who cares what it’s called, just go do what works for you, whether that be 25 a week or 100. 🙂

    Comment by Rebecca — January 26, 2010 @ 04:20

  17. Wow 3116 is high milage in my eyes! I’ll be lucky if I hit 1000 this year, still you don’t need to label yourself, so long as you’re enjoying doing what you’re doing that’s all that matters 🙂

    Comment by laura — January 26, 2010 @ 06:44

  18. Double-digits two weeks in a row? You are amazing, and I love reading your blog! I was having the same issue with blogspot yesterday…boo, hiss!

    Comment by hogeruns — January 26, 2010 @ 10:11

  19. Wow, I just went back and read your long run post that is so insane and awesome! Make sure you give yourself at least one slow to compensate (heheh yeah right).

    I am having computer issues too, no internet at home! Wah.

    Comment by Katerina — January 26, 2010 @ 11:43

  20. Mileage is all relative. 50mpw is a lot for me. It’s not for you. I think you just don’t know where your peak (how many mpw is sustainable for you). You’re still looking for it and expanding so it’s hard for you to say “this is high for me.” But it’s a running PR for you right now so wear the title with pride. IMO you are definitely a high mileage runner!

    Comment by runningfiance — January 26, 2010 @ 15:21

  21. […] Speed, Treadmill — marathonmaiden @ 16:16 I absolutely LOVED reading your thoughts on high mileage running and running in general.  You people are so smart and awesome.  I think the most important […]

    Pingback by Last Day of Freedom! « MarathonMaiden's Blog — January 26, 2010 @ 16:16

  22. I only ran 544 miles last year, and 400 the year before that, but I still consider myself a decent runner. I am more active than I was 5 years ago and way more active than most of my friends! I have also participated in more races than many of my running friends because I try to do one every month at a minimum. Because I am dedicated to training for and completing multiple triathlons this year, I totally consider myself a triathlete as well. I don’t think high mileage makes a runner any more of a runner than someone who runs 10-15 mpw. If you’re out there running, you’re a runner. 🙂 I think this was a great post!!!

    Comment by Jen — January 26, 2010 @ 21:29


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