When the marathon and long distance boom of the 1980’s sprang up, high mileage running has been the accepted way to train middle distance and long distance runners. Research has shown repeatedly that lower mileage and higher quality is both time saving and performance enhancing, even for elite athletes. High mileage remains the theme as coaches are afraid to deviate from current training trends. For professional runners with all day to train, lot’s of miles may still be the answer.

Long distance running is not the only sport which still carries this misguided tradition that more is better. American swim coaches are notorious for putting their athletes through 2-3 hour distance workouts twice a day regardless of the distance they compete in. The sport of swimming has been critiqued by many an exercise physiologist but the more is better notion still prevails. The US would perform better internationally if they would switch from a quantity program to a more quality based program.

Training for any distance is specific to that event. You must be prepared to become efficient at performing in good form at that race’s pace. Both today’s middle and longer distance events require both speed and endurance. If all you do is pile up mileage, you will only work the endurance half and will end up being overtrained. Overtraining reduces performance capabilities and sets you up for an injury or illness.

Adding the speed element raises the intensity which can be done by performing interval training, doing faster repeats with more rest and progressive or fartlek work. High intensity training is more purposeful and specific to your event. Specificity of training is the key to making real event improvements.

Be sure to add your speed work in slowly if you are not used to it. Once you have a regular routine, it should include adequate recovery sessions. You need to take a couple of easy days each week to allow your body to build itself up and develop the training adaptations you desire. High intensity training every day, even at a lower mileage, will eventually put you in a state of decreased performance and overtraining.

In conclusion, the advantages of lower mileage training with some high intensity faster bouts are:

* It is time efficient. This a much better choice for someone who is not a professional athlete and has a full time job.

* Training is much more purposeful and event specific

* There is less liklehood of injury or illness

* Adding a couple of easy days will keep overtraining in check.