I spoke with Bob Babbitt for his "Babbittville" podcast the other day. The subject matter was broad, ranging from my early days writing for Bob at Competitor Magazine all the way up to the Olympic Development Program for young distance runners I'm trying to get started. Bob is a character and it's always fun catching up. He's also a major reason triathlon is not only alive and well, but in existence at all. Back in the early 90's it was seen as a dying fad. It was Bob, through his magazine and relentless campaigning to build the sport, who pushed triathlon through that period and into its current popularity.
One of the topics we discussed was mileage. Bob takes the triathlon point of view that runners are best doing low mileage, then supplementing with biking and swimming. I believe in the SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand) theory that states if you're going to be a runner, you need to run. But it got me thinking, and I believe we're on the same page. High miles aren't the best way to get a young runner (11-14) to buy in to the world of distance running. Both from an injury and excitement perspective, that sort of running can be debilitating. I'm also finding that the same thing holds for runners over 40. But for runners in that competitive sweet spot during the high school and college years, I'm a big fan of running miles. The development of aerobic strength, running economy, and all-around speed can only come through doing the work.
But how much is too much? It all comes back to the Hippocratic admonition that doctors "first do no harm." Whether the mileage is 20, 40, 80, or even 100 (or more) miles per week, the focus has to be on developing the runner, not simply throwing big miles at them. The goal is for a runner to get fast and win races. But it's just as important that a runner find a love for running that sees them pursue the sport throughout their life. My family moved a lot when I was a kid, and I had at least six different coaches during my high school years. All had different coaching styles, but their common denominator was their love of running. The notion was infectious, and probably a reason I still run to this day.
Recovery run. 45-60 minutes. Yesterday was a long tempo on the San Clemente Beach Trail. With a qualifying race on Saturday, a dose of easy miles and strides is all that's needed.