After years of training at a high intensity and low mileage I am following the accepted wisdom of building up the mileage by more steadier running in the hope that I can avoid injury and reach faster times. This is just a post about the change in my training. I've raised a few concerns and questions so if anyone has any thoughts I would be interested to hear them.
Typically in the past I have only run about 20 mpw although occasionally I have run as much as 30mpw. About three quarters of this was done at tempo pace and the rest was faster intervals.
Unfortunately I have been plagued with lower leg injuries on this training. So, since January this year, after a 6 month lay-off I have been building the mileage up steadily from 15mpw to 45mpw now. I am doing about one quarter at tempo pace (occasionally quicker), half steady (1-1.30 min slower than my 10k race pace, and about a quarter at an easy pace.
I've increased the number of runs a week from two to five or six and I haven't felt tired or had aching muscles since February or March. In fact I often feel I could go for a second run on an evening but I've never done this. This is new territory for me both in terms of mileage and in terms of not feeling tired during and after training. Whereas most of my previous training consisted of hammering out the miles and barely able to control my breathing I am now rarely in this state.
One consequence of this type of training is that without racing it is difficult for me to guage how fast I can run. This was never a problem before becuase nearly every run was a good indicator. This allowed me to incrementally increase my pace on about a fortnightly basis. I have increased the pace of my steady 6-8 mile runs from 7.00 to 6.30 min/miling since the beginning of the year but this is just based on maintaining a perceived effort. I have not been able to work out whether I would be running faster at this stage doing my previous training. I think I am probably a little slower but becuase of the extra mileage I don't think it is very much.
Another consequence is that I am worried I am not developing the mental toughness I had before and when I do run at a faster pace I really feel the effort.
My main concern though is where do I go from here. Ideally I would like to build the mileage to about 60mpw and then after being at that level for say 3-4 months start introducing some faster running. I do really want to avoid any injuries though and do not want to push things too much. Having said that I feel fresh pretty much every day and feel that I can certainly cope with more miles.
Is there a level at which injuries start to become more prevalent, or does it depend on the individual?
Also is there an optimum mileage for racing 10ks? If so would I be better building steadily to this level and then thinking about adding some faster miles?
I suppose like a lot of runners I am trying to find that balance between good long term progress and not getting injured.