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Low mileage training for High mileage race?

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  • Low mileage training for High mileage race?

    Hello all! I've been on the primal path for the past month and a half and loving the changes I feel. I'm not trying to lose weight (5'10 and 145 lbs), but I felt the need to change my grain heavy diet. I am coming from mainly training on running 50 - 70 miles per week and participating in marathons. Lately, I have lacked motivation to run and felt burnt out. I have started to replace running with crossfit type work outs and love the variation it provides. I just want to know if anyone else is able to maintain the ability to race long distances (i.e. marathons) while training primarily with cross fit workouts and HIIT running/biking.

    I currently lack the desire to train like I was, but I am just curious if running a marathong would still be feasible. Any input and advice is much appreciated, I am enjoying the change!

  • #2

    I've been doing 50-70 mile (5-8 hour) off road bike races on short/intense training alone. No training rides over 2 hours, and those were just fun rides with pals. Feels fine, and I finish in the pack where I always do and feel great. I like having more time with pals and family than out pounding miles.

    I picked up Crossfit at the end of summer and my Cyclocross efforts were my best ever! Of course, CX and Crossfit are about suffering/pushing through and recovery.


    • #3

      I don't have a lot of training knowledge, but I did run a marathon a year ago with a long run of 15 miles, and daily runs of 4-8 miles. I only ran 3-4 days/week and I lifted very heavy weights the rest of the time. I ran a lot better at that marathon than at the ones where I ran really high mileage and I recovered in a very short time. So, I'd look into a training program that "knows" more about the science behind that experience. I'd think that a combination of sprinting, lifting and endurance runs would do it with a lot less weekly miles. By the way, I'm a female and my marathon times are in the 4-4.5 hr. range. I'm by no means a serious marathoner, though I've done 5 (mostly for the fun and comraderie)


      • #4

        Yes, yes, yes. You absolutely can do long races on low mileage. Despite what the entire world 'knows' to be true about distance running. I recently quit doing the long races simply because I didn't enjoy them any longer, but I did a couple marathons on low carb and low mileage. Also did a 100k with a long training run of 12 miles. Was supposed to be a 100 miles but at 100k my toes were so battered from kicking rocks I quit

        In my opinion your absolute best running performance will always come from high mileage running. With lower mileage, higher intensity and cross training you can perform close to your potential, and be a better overall athlete. Good luck!


        • #5

          I say yes also. Have you considered doing ultras? Going really long at a slower pace is an interesting possibility as a way to make running better fit the primal blueprint. You could do one really long slow run a week, the rest of your training could be short, high intensity, interval type training.

          Did you ever hear of long distance bicycle race called the Great Divide Race? It runs along the continental divide from Canada to Mexico. About 2500 miles. The newer version is Tour Divide, from Banff, Canada to the Mexican Border, about 2700 miles. Anyway, one of the guys who raced it and was really fast mostly trained by doing shorter rides with one long ride a week. Perhaps ultra long races are even more suited to this type of training.

          I've been a serious bicycle rider since 1972, the year I graduated HS. There were years where I rode a ton of miles, way more than I should have for health. I had chronic back pain for most of my adult life until the last couple of years when I stopped the constant long rides and added a balanced exercise program. My back is excellent now, probably stronger than most. What cured my back issues was TGU's and swings with kettlebells and not riding long and hard almost every day. The final piece for me in terms of having a strong, pain free and flexible back has been adding bodyweight exercises, primarily bridging. I'm getting pretty good at bridge push ups on my hands and feet and have just started adding more advanced moves. Bridging has been an amazing exercise for me as my back feels fantastic. I feel so flexible and light on my feet. I do some other bodyweight stuff too like planks, pushups, pullups, squats, leg raises, along with some other k'bell exercises.

          For many years I rode a multi geared mountain bike (and a road bike some too, but my sport is mountain biking) and was a seated spinner. I'd always gear down and try to stay seated and spin the pedals fast if I could. Over the past ten years I switched over completely to rigid single speed bikes. I did it both because I enjoy it more but also for health reasons. Now I stand all the time. Climbs are often max efforts where I'm powerfully using my whole body, the flats are usually at a lower effort than they would be on a geared bike, and on the downhills I'm coasting. It's very much interval training with low level aerobic efforts in between. I'm also off the bike more walking and sometimes even carrying the bike on my shoulder or above my head. It's much more a full body effort than a multi geared bike ride ever is. I feel so much better riding this way and never get even slightly burned out. I have a rigid single speed, no suspension. I believe the bouncing and jolts to my body are healthy. I also think it's really good to get off and walk sometimes, which my rigid SS forces me to do. I'm completely sold that this is a much healthier way to ride a bicycle.

          I also never use clipless pedals and think they are a bad idea, but that's another story.

          Anyway, I feel so great on the singlespeed I'm planning some long multi day tours this summer. I'm setting up a bike right now for ultralight bike packing, no racks. I've even been debating racing Tour Divide on my singlespeed vs touring.

          bruce b.


          • #6
            Nice thread. Wondering if any of you have food/snack/energy suggestions for long rides? I have been getting ready for a short tour and riding a 20,40,60 each week for the last 3 weeks. The 60 is always done while carrying a load. I need some food suggestions for energy. I like bananas, but grow tired of them quickly. Looking at making some bars, or even sweet potato cookies (without the wheat). What primal foods would you pack for 60+ miles a day for several days? Thanks. If there is already a thread on this I could not find it.


            • #7
              Check out Crossfit Endurance as they use a low mileage training for half/full/ultra marathons.

     and should be able to point you in the right direction. Just make sure to read the "about crossfit endurance" link on the website in order to make sure you are using it correctly and understand the concept behind it.



              • #8
                I only ran two marathons prior to deciding it wasn't for me, but I had pretty good luck using Matt Fitzgarld's program, Brain Training for Runners. The lower milage plans had 4 runs per week; 1 was an easy base run, 1 was a long run, and the other 2 were based upon flat sprints, hill sprints, and tempo runs (interval training was indroduced from the very first week, something I have seen very few other plans do). Outside of the long runs, I never did a weekday run longer than 6 miles and he includes strength training and x-training as part of the program. I did one long run at 18 miles, but never logged more than 36 miles in any week. During the races, I certainly wasn't fast, but finished feeling really strong and clocking negative splits both times, which is amazing for someone who pretty much depises running and would much rather swim instead
                Last edited by fizz bomb; 04-24-2010, 02:32 PM.