High mileage and sleep requirements

I'm looking particularly for advice from people who run, or have a history of running, sustained high mileage.

I'm looking to increase my training mileage with a view to improving my marathon time. My current PB is 3.54 off a fairly modest training volume and I'm aiming for sub-3.30 in the spring. I've been running over 40mpw consistently since late September and plan to pick up the Pfitzinger and Douglas up-to-70-mpw schedules in 3 weeks' time. I work full-time and have lots of school-age children to look after, and don't intend to do any cross-training apart from half an hour of gentle resistance work twice a week.

I'm assuming that as my mileage increases I will get tired and need more sleep, but am not sure exactly what to expect. What have other people experienced when they have increased their mileage, and can you offer me any advice?

Thanks in anticipation :o)


  • Not in the 70 mile range yet. But I find Train all I want my sleep patten is normal but I find an occiasonal "Lie in" very benifical.
  • Interesting question, I work 3 nights a week so miss out there, although I do have a lie in till about 9.30 on days off, Like you Vrap I am looking to increase my mileage in prep for Paris, I managed 3.46 on around 40 miles a week, my problem would be finding the time to do 60-70 miles a week rather than the lack of sleep which after 15 years on nights I have adjusted to.
  • Hi Vrap,

    I have found that time-wise it makes little difference.

    When I’m in heavy training, the quality of my sleep is much better. I’m asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and I don’t stir until the alarm wakes me up the next morning.
    When not training properly, my sleep is more fitful.

    I also like to have a little (30 mins) cat-nap after a long weekend run - but this is not so easy when you’ve got little ‘uns to look after.
  • I can - just - see my way to finding the time to do 70mpw. What I can't afford is to be chronically tired and unable to keep all the balls in the air, and if there's a risk of that happening I'll aim for a lower mileage that I can sustain consistently.
  • V-rap can't advice on sleep but have you thought of food as well when i got up to 50 mpw nowhere near it now. My appeetite shot up. I 'm fine on 40-45 mpw but anything more and i need more food.
  • Pammie, sounds a great reason to up mileage yummy.Think I could manage 60 but would have to run twice a day once a week and run a semi long run the day before my long run, god feel knackered just thinking about it.
  • Thanks, Pammie :o)

    Yes, I've got to grips with the fuelling issue and my weight has been steady since early August, having fallen by a few pounds when I first started training seriously again in July. I'm being ruthless about making myself replace all the calories used in a run within 4 hours of finishing the run, in addition to normal meals. Fortunately, running doesn't suppress my appetite at all.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Vrap, can't really comment on the effect of high mileage on sleep requirements as I've only maxed at 50 mpw (for one week only before I got a minor injury) during my last period of marathon training.

    I would probably agree with TwoTon though based on my limited experience. Although I wasn't running particularly high mileage the intensity made up for it. I found that when I was training hard I slept very soundly even though I didn't actually have any more sleep. Whether I needed more is a different matter entirely - but as usual with life it depends on what you can fit in!
  • Hi Vrap,

    My mileage is currently in the 50pw range but is on the increase in prep for an ultra next feb. I have found that it is not so much the increased mileage, but more about when you can run that affects things. If like me you have family commitments the only time to run is early morning or late at night. Early Morings = get up earlier = less sleep =Tired. Late nights = too awake when need to sleep = Tired. Ideally if you can train at a sensible hour the step up is easier to handle.
  • haven't run that sort of mileage ever, but went from training 20 miles a week to 35 about 3 months ago.had to increase my food dramatically as i was losing 2lbs a week and found i needed a extra hours sleep each night. i too have kids a 2yo and 5yo so with the extra sleep i manage ok.took a couple weeks to get used to.
  • Vrap When I was regularly doing 50-70 MPW - oh, not so long ago (2002) I could sleep for Ireland. Most nights I was in bed for 8.30 - 9.00pm and I was up at the infernal hour 05.30am in the summer months to get a 8-10 miler in before work; and as for the cat naps!

    Good luck - I envy you
  • V'rap, I'm nowhere near you in the mileage stakes although I do have some experience of sleep disruption affecting training. I work down South during the week and travel home to Scotland at weekends. This is normally a 3.5hour drive on a good day. I find that my sleep patterns are often disrupted from doing the journey (setting off early doors or early evening to arrive late at night to get to my flat) and fitting training in to this can be hard. On a bad day, the lack of sleep has a profound effect on my training and I have to be careful with my stride pattern as you can get lazy and this easily leads to twisting an ankle or usually hurting my knee as I'm run sloppily due to tiredness!
  • I find it isn't so much that my need for sleep increases, more that the consequences of going in to deficit are greater. When I am not training especially hard, a few nights of 30mins-60mins less than I need is fine. During periods of heavy training a small sleep deficit becomes quickly exhausting. protect you sleep time as passionaltely as you protect that for training. I've learnt to nap - 30mins after lunch if I have time can make a lot of difference. Good luck with your campaign!
  • I don't run 70 miles a week (50 max) but do supplement it with numerous hard cross training sessions to give a rough equivalent of that sort of mileage a week.
    What I tend to find is that for a week or two at increased volume, I am certainly more tired and irritable and display sleeping patterns reminiscent of over training (I.e. Fitful sleep, bit of insomnia.)Then as I get used to the increased volume I find my sleeping patterns revert to normality (actually better as I tend to hit the pillow and fall asleep rather than wait for ages to do so) I do find I need at least a minimum of 7 hours (8 is great) and a minimum half hour nap after my long run is a must otherwise I am generally intolerable for the rest of the day.
    Once I get into that sort of pattern I would actually say I am less tired than when I am inactive - mainly because when I train in the evening it allows me to be tired enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour rather than staying up to the small hours.
  • i seem to be the opposite of all of the above!

    I seem to sleep less when training hard...

    I was running 60-ish miles per week over the summer in preparation for the Berlin marathon (before i got shin splints - hmmm)and found I had no trouble dropping off to sleep but woke up ridiculously early. i was completely unable to lie in even if I wanted to. My appetite was truly incessant - 3000 cals/day easily.

    when i stopped running to let my naughty shins heal up - the first break I've had from running in years - my sleep has never been so good. Just starting back running now and already the sleep disturbance has started!

    by the way (as someone who has had their fingers burnt) sounds a big jump from 40/week to 70. Do you think your body will handle it?
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    I'd echo what K9 is saying - when I was doing 50-70 miles per week (which resulted in absolutely zero benefit in terms of times - it's not a guaranteed equation of miles in:faster times out) I was going to bed at 9:00 p.m., sleeping like a log, but being wide awake at 5:00 a.m. Also, six meals a day wasn't enough and you could still see my ribs.

    Funny thing now is whether I'm training hard or not, I still sleep like the dead. I am also still eating six meals a day. However, my ribs may or may not still exist; I haven't seen them for a while.
  • Thanks, everyone :o) Lots of useful advice there!

    What Go-KL says is what I'm hoping will happen to me - that increments in training will result in a temporary increase in tiredness but I'll adjust.

    I've never had problems sleeping and will happily take 7-8 hours' sleep a night whether I'm training or not. Fortunately, I don't need to run early in the morning or late at night, and accommodating more early nights shouldn't be a problem.

    Useful advice on increasing food intake too. I've done the crescendo weight loss on 40mpw thing in the past when I was cross-training quite hard and had a lot of work and domestic difficulties which no longer apply. Life is a lot easier now, and having limited time to train means I HAVE to focus on running, so I'm not melting away :o)
  • LizzyB - unlike you, the increase in mileage from 45-ish to 60+ was definitely leading to an improvement in my pace and endurance - it just also led to injury before I could demonstrate any improvement over a marathon course.

    having now had the best part of 3 months with stop-start attempts at running and no structured training, the net 'benefit' has been negative. (and that's despite cross-training like mad in the interim)
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    K9 - I think higher mileage works for a lot of people; I have very poor biomechanics and my take on the issue is that to cope with higher mileage I subconciously adjust my running style to avoid injuries ... this is a ploddy, flat footed, shuffly style which can't translate itself to faster running (and which I now can't shake off!). Example:

    1999: 3:42 marathon off 40 mpw, could also knock off 1:42 halves and 45-46 min 10ks in my sleep on even lower mileage
    2003: 3:43 marathon off 45-55 mpw, 45 min 10k
    2004: 3:59 marathon and 1:43 half off 50-70mpw
    2004: 52 minute 10ks off 70 mpw ...

    You can see why I packed this marathon lark in in ...

    PS Good luck Vrap! I'm sure it will work for you, I'm just that exception (bitter and twisted as well)
  • Ah, JJ, you know about me and morning runs, don't you? I've never been a lark, and would rather run at midnight than early in the morning.

    Thanks for some very sensible advice :o)

    The schedules do include doubles on recovery days some weeks, and I plan to move my long run from a Wednesday evening to a Friday afternoon (the family don't know I have a regular half-day on a Friday!) so that I can do the recovery doubles on a Saturday and not have to go out at 6am to get the first run done before work.

    The way my working days are arranged, I can get the bulk of my mileage done in the afternoons and early evenings, which suits me very well physiologically and doesn't eat into sleeping time. And Kevin the Teenager knows that if she wants to stay out late she has to get home by means that don't involve 11pm calls to Mum's Taxi.
  • Vrap could I have a link to the schedule please thanks
  • Vraps - LOL to having a secret half day off! What a brilliant idea.

    I am nowhere near your mileage but even moving up from 25 to over 30mpw I find I need to catnap more. The ability to drop off for 20 minutes whenever I need to is a survival strategy I developed while working nights, and possibly one of the most useful skills I've ever learnt.
  • Hi Vrap.

    When training hard I am normally in bed by 10pm and up at 5:30 am.

    After anything hard training wise I would eat a protein laden snack - Crunchy Nut corn flakes went down well.

    Also on days when training was particulary tough I would try and get 30 mins cat nap.

    Go get that time.
  • Hi Vrap

    I find that routine is critical. Actually works quite well for me, as rote is a big part of my life anyway. I tend to be very particular and habitual about my training.

    Have to agree that sleep is critical. When I was BGR training I wouldn't have less than 8 hours.

    Having an outdoorsy type job I tend to get quite a lot of sustained walking around in. You might benefit from the odd long walk as well.

    (I'm not suggesting that having an "outdoorsy" type job means I "work" any harder than someone who works in an office - or that I'm necessarily unique in having a manual job BTW. I suspect a junior hospital doc covers more miles in a day than I do in a week)

    All that goes to hell and breakfast and lambing time. 40 hours or so without sleep and hard training don't mix too well....
  • For the last month or so I've been logging between 70 and 91mpw (although I log them as 8 minute miles so in reality I may do quite a lot more).
    I find sleep is good - If I have no evening committments, I'd happily go to bed at 9:30 and sleep through to 7:30 (more if I can get away with it), but it doesn't make much of a difference if I go to bed in the early hours and wake up at the same time.

    Training is usually lunchtime and early evening, and often I'll run into work and make it 3 runs per day, so it doesn't really take much of my free time during the week - in fact it saves time over the tube.
  • Thanks :o) You are all wonderful!

    JJ, I may be very, very old, but I am still not mature enough for the Mature thread ;o)

    TN, I'm not sure whether or not the schedules are published online. I've got them in paper form, from "Advanced Marathoning" by Pfitzinger and Douglas, helpfully recommended by Sodahead and purchased by eL Bee!

    Xerxes, if I can reach your standard of "not much of a runner" I will be delighted.

    FR, the temptation to take long walks rather than running has been one of my downfalls in the past! But next week I'm heading for the hills and will no doubt put in a fair amount of vertical mileage at sub-running pace :o)

    JEJ, I love your pic :o) What's the event?

    I appreciate all the suggestions about catnapping. Unfortunately, it's not something I'm very good at - when I sleep, I sleep like an extinct reptile.

    And, Sodahead, I've seen what you have as a high-protein snack after winning category prizes in marathons, and it certainly didn't look like crunchy nut cornflakes. More like half a farmyard. Fried.
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