Little, Often & Faster? or Longer, Fewer & Slower?

A slightly artificial and labarotary like scenario I know but it helps frame a question that I am interested in.

If I am training for a 10K run in circa 2 months and run 21 miles per week: which approach is likely to give me a better time

1) 7 runs per week of 3 miles each at 7 minute mile pace or;

2) 3 runs per week of 7 miles at 8 minute mile pace.

I know the answer is that a good mix of runs is best but.. if anyone cares to submit a view on which extreme is most beneficial I should be most interested.


  • 1, without the shadow of a doubt
  • And a marathon would be 2????
  • Sorry, still 1. and still no doubt
  • Really
    What about long runs
    im sooooo slow you see
  • it's a pretty unrealistic challenge though, isn't it? the right answer has got to be "neither", surely? 3 miles @ 7:00m/m pace is a run of 21 minutes and it's doubtful that there's any training advantage in runs that short. 30 minutes is about the minimum where any run is going to have any effect (say the books).

    if 7:00m/m was faster than race pace then maybe it's might have something, but ... I'm not sure what this answers, to be honest.

    what was the point of the question, Dave?
  • Well, the long runs would certainly help. But we were only given two options you see... I think there's a load of physiological reasons why 1 would work better (and experience also tells me that). Regardless of which schedule you chose, you'd still be in pretty bad shape at the end of a marathon with so little training, though.
  • Academic for me
    Cant do more than 11 min miles, and thats fast
    Speedwork tomorrow, at altitude(giving blood)
  • Oh, and actually, Achilles, regarding your point about 30mins being the minimum to have any effect, I seem to remember a European 1500m champion would used to train no longer than 20mins at a time (alledgedly, she used to have 6 training sessions a day though).
    I also seem to remember some of the turn of the century marathon runners (they would have ran 2H40 or so) training no more than 3 miles a day.
  • bad hippo -

    good luck with the speedwork tomorrow, you can do it.

    blurred hippo moving at unimaginable speed.
  • 'would' -> read 'who'
  • Nick -

    point taken - I think I was trying to say it depends how fast you are running those 3 miles in relation to your fitness level.

    PS. were they really running 2:40 at the turn of the century? the only thing I can remember is that the 1939 Olympic marathon was won in approx. 2:30. had they only taken off 10 mins. in 40 years?
  • it will be half yassos for me
    bugger the RW prog, i CANNOT do mile reps
    Ill be down a pin of blood, oh happy excuse
  • "down a pint of blood" - you don't make things easy for yourself, do you?

    oh and I'll remind of what you just said when you're sailing through your mile reps in a month's time. ;-)
  • Well, I think I was a bit approximate in my use of dates here... Make it 1920, and that should be about right (Hell, that's the turn of the Century to me anyway!!)

    On a separate note, and for a completely different approach, I also used to know a runner (originally from Ethiopia) who trained for the marathon in this fashion (his name was Alexander Rachide):

    Wedn. 26 miles tempo ; Sun. Marathon (race)

    He'd do about 20 marathons a year (that was in the late eighties this), all under 2H20! (and in the process, pocket a fair amount of dosh).

    Hard to believe, and yet... so talk of two extremely different approaches to training here! (and both of which seem to work pretty well too!!!)
  • wow - that is simply phenomenal.

    26 miles tempo run is surely the same as racing a marathon, so basically he was racing a marathon twice a week for half the year!

    as you say, there's no hard and fast rules and a huge spectrum of possible approaches.

    I don't think I'll be trying to emulate Rachide in any great hurry!
  • Madness isn't it? But the fact that it worked doesn't mean he couldn't have performed much better had he been following more traditional schedules...
    I don't think the spectrum is that huge though(for instance I don't believe you can feature on the marathon at world class level (say 2h06 men; under 2h19 women) with less than approx. 120 miles a week.
    I know Frank Horwill likes to claim so, but looking at the rankings this year, I don't believe anyone in the top 20 runs any less than that (or at least not during their marathon preparation...)
  • yes, I'd have to agree about the weekly mileage. Horwill is a little bit cranky on that score, though pretty sound on lots of things to my mind.
  • Can i manage two marathons this year, and 3 halves?
    silly question
    i WILL
    But id like it to be less painful than last year
    i thought the long runs were what couted
    sorry, ill go
  • Nick,

    Totally changing subject here but what sort of shoes do proper athletes like yourself wear for such high mileage training. Do you (as in you and others running very fast) go for something with a lot of cushioning or do you run in something lighter.
  • yes, given that you've already got a marathon under your belt, you should be able to manage two in the year. and yes, it's the long runs that count. the more you do the less painful it will be. try and get up to five (of around 20 miles) before April if you can, but don't panic if you can't.

    you may be best to treat the halves as part of the build-up rather than all-out races.
  • oh they will be achilles
    my first half is in two weeks
    ive told my father(Youre only a fun runner)
    not to expect owt
  • looks like this is the year that dad eats his words. ;-)

    PS. why do all your messages look like haikus? am I missing something?
  • Popsider,

    Nike Pegasus for jogs, racers (Air Streak Vengeance at the moment) for speed work and tempo runs; spikes for cross-country and Walsh racers for multi-terrain and fell races... As to proper athletes, they come in two categories: the slower ones (still much faster than me by any standard) run in whatever their sponsors will send them (and it is sometimes totally inappropriate). The fast ones just get sent everything in the range, and only wear what they fancy...
  • Do they?
    God, I knew i was good at words,
    but ive missed this one

    Erm, cant control PC?
  • Sod dad
    these are for ME
    (wont tell you what he said about my consultant post)

  • Well my mum keeps telling me that running is silly - her other line is that I am not 18 anymore. I think she was quite shocked when I came 8th in one race - OK so it was a boxing day fun run and was about as competitive as a school sports day parents race but it did shut her up.

    ps - do they still have school sports day parents races - if so do you think they would do a 10k rather than 100m ?
  • popsider -

    oh yes, they most certainly do still have parents sports day races and you can't imagine the competitiveness over those 100m. the number of strains and pulls is pretty awesome as well as overweight dads launch into all out sprints for the first time in years.

    I'm not joining in until they do a 10K at least.
  • Yeah I am not that fast over 100m and you can guarantee that there will be some ex teenage dad in his early 20s - I hope they give advance notice because I would have to train for the event and get a set of sprint spikes and one piece lycra suit.
  • Nick / Achillies Hippo's et al,

    Thanks for the thought provoking responses and historical references.

    Achillies - you asked what the point of the question was - well with the new year upon us and enthusiasm abounding I have found it fairly easy to get 1 run a day in (including gym treadmill) - however have been keeping it fairly short - maybe because of being knackered from previous day - but in compensation I have been trying to run more quickly.

    I was howver worried about not doing a "longer run" given various training schedules, on the other hand I was also concious that if I built in more lenghty runs I would lose motivation - pathetic I know but thanks for your thoughts - I will of course endeavour to have a mixed training week.

    PS On the topic of running shoes - I bought a pair recently from a specialist running shop (first time) how impressed was I when after putting me on the treadmill the guy spotted virtually immediately that I had one leg slighlty shorter than the other (c. 1cm) - Brilliant - obviously after a demonstration of such expertise I bought the contents of the shop!
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    That's impressive, Dave. I bought my last (first 'proper') pair of running shoes from Run & Become at Victoria. After telling me that I had the 'strangest' running style she'd ever seen, the assistant was unable to recommend a pair of shoes to suit me and suggested I went for something neutral. My shoes are fine - but have given me blisters under the arch of my right foot every single time I've worn them (and I bought them in April last year). I now have to wear blister prevention plasters on that foot every time I run to prevent my blisters from getting blisters. Not what I expected from an £85 pair of running shoes! Sadly I shall have to put up with it until they've done the mileage, but next time I'll go to a shop with an Adidas machine or at the very least, a treadmill.
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