One of my big goals this year has been to run 2000 miles. At this point I think it's pretty clear it isn't going to happen barring some kind of miracle and/or insanity on my part. In January, it would've required a very reasonable 38 mi/wk, but since I've averaged more like 28 thus far, it seems unlikely that I'm magically going to find the time to start averaging 52.
There's nothing special about the number 2000; more than anything else, it was just kind of a fun way to try to focus on getting in lots of easy miles in addition to speed/tempo/pace/etc. workouts, knowing that that's one of the surest ways to get faster. Coming off of a GREAT race at Windsor Green Half on May 20, my original plans had been to spend June running lots and lots of easy mileage, then add hard workouts back in in July & August, & be in good enough shape by the end of August to beat my Windsor time at Santa Rosa Half on Aug. 26. Thanks to my (awesome!) new job, though, there's been significantly less time for running; in June, instead of 30-40 miles a week, I usually had time for more like 20. Or 6. Or none.
And really -- I can ABSOLUTELY live with that. Even if I go into my two August races prepared only to have fun & finish, I kept reminding myself, the new job is a great, great blessing, and there will be other summers & other races. So there's been some running, and I've gradually been getting back to 30+ weeks including as many of the "quality" runs as I can manage, but it's been far from an ideal training cycle.
So here's me, on Sunday, heading out for my HM pace run. I usually start with 3-4 miles at pace & then add a mile each week of the plan until I get up to 7-8 a few weeks out from the race, which is where I am now. This week it was 7. The story in my mind has gone something like, "Very busy -> haven't had much time to run -> mileage is low -> not very fast / strong right now." So whereas my average pace at Windsor Green was 7:37/mile, I'm tacitly expecting that, because my mileage has been low I'll be doing pretty well to hover in the 7:40-45ish range with the same level of effort.
The facts of the workout, however, seem to belie this narrative:
First mile: uphill & into the wind. Miles 2-3: still into the wind. Miles 4-5: GG Park rollers, net uphill. (6 & 7 were downhill with tailwind, so those are a little more understandable.)
Realistically, that's more like the last seven miles of a half than the first, and even then, an average 7:27 pace is a bit fast. But still, if we're talking effort, I felt great the whole time & could've kept going, no problem. This run was--dare I say it--positively easy. When I can run 6-8 miles at a given pace and feel totally comfortable, then I know I'm ready to race a half at (or at least very close to) that pace. So maybe there's hope for another PR in Santa Rosa after all?
So now I'm reconsidering my preoccupation with mileage. The only point in upping my weekly miles was to get faster, and somehow that is continuing to happen even with a fairly significant drop. Yes, I'm sure that if I could manage to run 60-80 miles a week & stay healthy, I would probably get faster. And yes, if I ran single-digit weeks for long enough, I'd obviously get slower. But the past few weeks have definitely shown me that the relationship between mileage & performance is more complex than I've been making it in my mind.