Miles, Training, Rest & Recovery

Ryan Hall (2:04:55 marathon PR) and #1 marathoner in the US, made interesting comments about his training in a posted interview on a Stanford sports website. These are the kind of comments that often are glossed over by runners – but I want to put a spotlight on it.

Q: On average, what is your weekly running schedule?

A (Hall): I don’t add up my weekly mileage anymore but I will say that it has come down drastically in the last 18 months. Early on in my marathoning career, I would log 120 miles a week, which led to over-training and some sub-par performances. Now I take one day completely off per week, which really adds a lot to both my quality of life and quality of training/racing. If I had to guess I would say I run around 100 miles per week, which is low for an elite marathon runner. But my goal isn’t a given amount of miles in a week, my goal is to hit two really good, quality workouts per week and then spend the rest of the time recovering from that.

The concept of rest is not new. However, like Hall, many runners have been lead down the path of “if some is good then more is better.” This is especially true of the mileage training proponents. Somewhere along the way these proponents have even used the Kenyans as examples. Having talked to a PhD physiologist and coach who lived with Kenyans – the Kenyans do not put in high mileage as some people and articles have reported. But, as much as 35-40% of their training is very fast (race pace or faster) and they get lots of rest!

Hall has become faster as his miles have been reduced and quality increased. And has figured out that rest is a critical element to building conditioning. He is right about elite athletes (and athletes in general not just runners) that as motivated and goal oriented  as we are it is often easy to over-train; do more; and push through. It is a different kind of discipline to hold back, get rest, and be sure our bodies recover. It is that discipline that separates smarter training versus just harder training. Training harder is not very often the issue. As a group, runners train hard but are not training smarter.

What are some of the aspects of training smarter?

  1. Quality over quantity mentality in training.
  2. Purposeful training – every workout has a purpose.
  3. Paces are critical and specific – not subjective.
  4. Rest is essential to progress.

Hall practices quality over quantity; has purpose for each workout; knows his paces; and schedules rest and recovery in his training. He trains smarter.

One of my athletes is trying a program which “takes the science of recovery out of the lab and into your hands”. It’s called RestWise. As a driven elite age group athlete (cyclist) he is motivated and knows how to push his body. He is trying out this program as part of his training smarter. Combining a scientific approach to recovery with his purposeful – specific – quality over quantity workouts he is reaching new heights of performance.

Can you say the same about your running? Isn’t it time to get a structured program? You can come to Arizona Running Camp this summer if you are interested in learning more on how to move your performances to another level.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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5 Responses to Miles, Training, Rest & Recovery

  1. atimetorun says:

    Reblogged this on A Time To Run and commented:
    I thought this was such a great post about training smarter as opposed to just training harder. Enjoy!

  2. Glenn Pawl says:

    Coach, I’m a bit confused and hoping you can clarify. Yesterday I did a high quality workout: 3x 1 mile at slightly faster than 5k pace. So what to do today – a 30 minute run at recovery pace, or a complete day of rest? The run certainly won’t be quality, but I’ve read that a recovery run the day after a hard workout will help flush the body and help with DOMS. Which is the better option?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      This is a great question. The short answer is probably 30 minutes easy is a good idea. BUT…
      First know that everyone is different and responds differently. Therefore, knowing yourself it #1 rule! If you are completely trashed – so sore you can’t walk straight… you need a day off; go cross train or whatever. But it would not be advised to run. If you have that slight tightness or slight soreness, perhaps an easy run is in order. On the other hand, (and this is often my personal case) often after an evening track workout – the next morning I feel bouncy due to the high quality workout (i.e. like 200s or 400s at mile or faster paces). In which case I launch into some race pace or tempo type workout and usually turn in a great time and feel fantastic. THEN, I need 3 easy days! Also, for me, taking an entire day off often leaves me MORE stiff so I prefer to do something rather than nothing.

      By the way, that easy run ends up quite purposeful! So easy runs do not necessarily mean garbage miles. If by doing this 30 minute easy run you run better in the end.. then.. it served its purpose.

  3. mizunogirl says:

    I’m really interested in the restwise program. I’m always having issues deciding if I need rest or if I am being lazy. (usually I need rest). I’m going to show it to my coach…I think he will love it!

  4. Pingback: Top 10 Running Tips

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