Friday, 30 August 2013

Junk Miles

They aren’t long runs, they’re not speed work, they’re not tempo training, they’re just a few miles that you may throw into your week somewhere in order to hit a mileage goal.” I came to run . com

Earlier in the week I noticed I was clocking up the miles. A relaxed working week gave me the opportunity to run another couple of medium days and bring the weekly total up to 80 miles from last Saturday until tonight, Friday.

All I had to do was 10 on Thursday and 9 tonight. I had snuck the meadows speed session in on Tuesday between a couple of scenic longer runs so was really just out chasing the bragging rights to an 80 mile week. It's a while since I have done one and I am not following a particular schedule.

This loosely comes under the derogatory term junk miles. Non training specific miles run for their own sake. Quantity over quality. While I was contemplating this I was also thinking that most of the people finishing up the front of races are the ones putting in the most miles. However if you are prone to injury from overtraining then should you be considering quality over quantity – specific speed work and tempo runs over high volume. Both methods hold true. This from

For example, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Alberto Salazar leveraged a very high-mileage training program (routinely exceeding 150 miles per week) to win the New York City Marathon three times and the Boston Marathon once. Then, in the mid-1980s, Steve Jones of Wales used a comparatively low-mileage (80 miles per week), high-intensity program to set a new marathon world record.”

“Comparatively” being a comparative term. I felt tired from Tuesday onwards and had I a full working week I would have done very few miles from then till now. My legs felt ok probably due to the Hoka shoes I do most of my miles in, but I have been feeling really hungry most of the day and like I could switch the alarm clock off and do another 2hrs sleep in the mornings.

Thursday and I spent most of the day dreading the 10 miles. No scenery and no pals, the least taxing route in the 6 o'clock drizzle was the Queens Drive round the Seat. It's an old old friend and I hoped one that I could run without noticing. Put on the mp3 player and just float round. The first 4 miles were awful. There's a lot of up hill and by mile 5 I was nearly 2 minutes down on the 7 minute miling average. Not that I was chasing a time. Only last time I did this route I did 67 minutes. The downhill nature of the second half encourages a negative split and suddenly you're clocking 6.30 miles and rescuing what was fast becoming slow.

Out the Innocent Railway then back for a full loop and sure enough all the descents got me home in 68 minutes. Not without incident though. I had recently been wondering about libraries. Will they soon be as redundant as newspapers since you can get a second hand book for next to nothing, in online retailers, download hundreds of free Kindle titles and buy the rest very cheaply. Who, with a computer, still uses a library? Then I saw someone post about free ebooks and audiobooks through a library lending system. I checked and sure enough. Got in touch with my library (they were surprised to hear from me after so many years) and registered for online lending. There are a couple of downsides – limited number of titles, and compatibility issues, but if you are not that fussy, it's the future of libraries. I am particularly interested in free audiobooks which are otherwise expensive and which can make a long day doing tedious paintwork fly by.

I downloaded a couple of titles and at the time was wrestling with a problem: that the media player interface of the audiobook system wanted to put the files alongside the music files on my mp3 player and not in the specific audiobook folder. So I am running round Holyrood with the player on shuffle and Aiden Gillen starts narrating Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. It is in seven files and this is not even the first (which I might have considered, though not ideal), so I stop, unlock the mp3 and skip onto the next (music) track. Three tracks later and we're back to the Irish lilt of Aiden Gillen.

Also here's a thing. When I am bouncing along at full tilt there is a tendency for the earbuds to fall out. I have tried a number of different headphone / earphone devices and none are 100%. I got some tokens for Sweatshop and was wandering around there without an idea of how to spend them. (I still have half of them unspent. I will end up with socks and gels.) £30 for a pair of Yurbuds – Performance Fit Earphones. Won't fall out – Guaranteed. Given you can get a whole mp3 player for round about this price I would be reluctant if I was spending my own money. They come in several sizes – a pair of rubber galoshes that fit over an otherwise basic earphone and screw into your lughole. The galoshes come in a variety of sizes and I tried several in the shop each time less certain if that was the right size. It is their very rubberiness that holds them in place while you bounce along the road. Until I start sweating heavily or it is raining. Then they plop out every 15 seconds. The box says sweat and water resistant. I will be writing an email shortly. Maybe I have the wrong size? Maybe I have the wrong product?

So I tuck the errant music makers into my shorts and never know whether Aiden Gillen took up his narration again.

Friday and all I have to do is pay a bill, sort a couple of chores out at my mum's house then it's 9 easy peasy miles to hit 80. I try to avoid the computer and facebook and the tendency when tired to waste the day reading blogs and watching important videos of animals on trampolines. I nearly manage, then get my shoes on and I feel better than yesterday – I can see the end of the week and promise myself a beer if I can just do this. The best policy is distraction. I am going to run 2 miles to Inverleith Park. Following the perimeter (anticlockwise) on 3 sides then on the fourth carrying on through the lane after the pond and back to the start up the hill makes 1.2 miles. Four times, each one faster and then a bit extra and home and we're done. First lap 8.05. Second I nearly forgot to get faster and recorded 8.01. Third one I paid more attention and took 30 seconds off that. Last one may well have been a course pb of 6.57.

My only regret was not taking the camera. It was overcast and threatening rain. However at the side of the pond over on the grass was a huddle of ducks with beaks under wings all in a row. They looked snug and warm and I wanted to lie down there with them. They didn't stir as I ran past – I slowed first 2 laps but they seemed to be sleeping and I wondered if they would mind if I stopped and stroked them. Some of their chums with beady eyes open over at the side of the pond might let on. Or I might just upset their cosy Friday evening. I resisted. It wasn't easy.

Timing the laps as distraction worked and in no time I was finished and gasping for breath. Home, dinner and that beer. 80 miles. 

Tomorrow and it all starts again.

photo borrowed from a library

Who gets the final say on what constitutes a junk mile? Bart Yasso? Galloway? Mo Farah?
When does a junk mile stop being a junk mile? Is it the point where my trademark scowl becomes my sex face?
photos of Inverleith Park courtesy of friends of Inverleith Park

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