By Phil Mosley
It's no surprise to learn that weekly running volume has been shown to correlate with finishing times in marathons. Many coaches believe that a high weekly training volume improves stride efficiency and gives more scope to improve from speed-based interval sessions. This is backed up by other studies that show elite runners, cyclists and cross country skiers perform 90-95% of their training at low intensities.
Efficiency and Stamina
As mentioned above, many coaches believe that increased running volumes lead to greater efficiency. They believe that every stride is a form of practice and the more you practice, the more relaxed your movements become. It is hard to say whether you should increase your mileage by running further or running more frequently. What we do know is that the distance of some of your runs should be relative to the distance of your races. If you can't run a distance comfortably in training, you probably won't run it comfortably on race day either.
Aside from running more, another potent way of improving is to run faster. Interval-based running workouts can lead to rapid gains in speed and should be an integral part of your triathlon training. This type of training needs to be progressive too - aim to improve the speed of your reps, or run the same speed for longer or run the same speed with less rest.
There's a limit to how much you can improve from speed work. At some point you will plateau unless your volume changes too.
Knowing Your Limits
Every runner has their limit. Some are able to soak up high mileage, while other reach their peak from lower weekly volumes. If you wish to experiment with increasing your running volume, it needs to be done gradually. We're talking increases of 5 to 10% per month here. Anything more will lead to injury or staleness. You also need to recognise your own limits when you hit them. If higher mileages aren't leading to faster times, it's time to go back and revisit what worked best for you.
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Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.