Posted: 22/04/2015 at 20:14
I think the discussions have to be relative to what your base training is.
My first marathon Chester 2011 was off the back of an unstructured programme building up the mileage and including two 20 mile runs achieving 3:58.
in 2012 I ran London in 3:47 and totalled 2012 miles that year. The following year I achieved sub 3:45 at Manchester (3:44) and Chester (3:40) ... continuing high mileage of 2013 miles in 2013.
Last year I exceeded the 2014 challenge with 2022 miles and completed Paris in 3:55 then York in 3:39 (PB).
It was ok in 2012 & 2013 as I only ran marathons and Leeds half marathon. However last year I joined a running club and found that as I'm was in marathon mode most of the year I was slower in the shorter races, and it wasn't efficient to taper for each club run so effectively I was always running slower on tired legs and felt enormous pressure (I put myself under with the 2014 target) to get the mileage in to the extent it was taking the enjoyment out and my times plummeted (apart from the big races I tapered for). parkrun times were a good couple of mins slower.
i therefore decided to "Run Less Run Faster" in 2015. That doesn't mean I'm avoiding running or being lazy, indeed I find each run has purpose and this doesn't mean I'm killing myself every time. I'll incorporate tempo run (which is fast but just comfortable), intervals, parkrun is usually flat out and long runs a more comfortable marathon race pace ... This is where I'm trying to extend distance without losing too much pace gradually over the weeks leading up to Liverpool.
its helped with eating as I'm not hungry all the time and I'm a stone lighter than I was this time last year and have been able to improve my shorter distance PBs including half marathon in 1:34 (previously 1:42 last year).
Long run wise I'll be building up including mileage at 15, 16, 18 & 20 but not doing multiple 20s like I've done previously.
I'll probably still end up doing 1200-1400 miles this year but they will be miles based on quality runs, not just for achieving an artificial target of being able to run 2015 miles in the year 2015 as I had done for the previous three consecutive years.
so relatively I'm running less and getting faster. Seems a smart thing to do for me personally but everyone is different ...at peak I don't think I'll go above 40 miles in any week (compared to peak of 65 miles last year).
I feel like it's taking the same effort to run 30-45 seconds quicker per mile compared to last year and comparatively feel much better. Time will tell whether this helps my endurance in the marathon but I feel I'm enjoying runs and races throughout the year rather than just 2-3 per year.
I should really do more cross training to substitute but find the rest days give good recovery setting myself up for my next enjoyable run and also restore more balance in my life giving my family commitments (wife and two children aged 13 and 4). I guess it's a bit of trial and error for everyone and agree the main thing is to enjoy running as otherwise it's not worth the faster times.