One project some hardcore runners are into is Running the Year, aka running during the course of a year a number of miles at least equal to that particular year. People may or may not join the linked project to attempt it.
Once you get into the math of what running the year 2019 takes, you realize it’s not an easy feat. To run the year 2019, you have to average about 5.53 miles per day, or 38.8 miles a week. And to be honest, most runners probably could not run that much all 365 days, or 52 weeks, in 2019.
A hardcore marathoner or ultra runner putting in 80-120 miles a week probably reaches 2019 miles in 2019 without trying too hard (… or at least harder than they usually do while training). Many of them probably can reach 2019 miles before the end of May, whether or not they’re training for a goal race.
For most other runners, this is very difficult. I myself peaked last year in 2017 at about 1495 miles, and despite training for two marathons I’m actually behind last year’s pace by about 50 miles.
Granted, this year I took extended breaks, whereas I didn’t really in 2017, and at this time last year I was peaking for the 2017 Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon whereas today I’m taking two weeks off following a marathon.
Still, if a seemingly compulsive runner like me struggles to get to just 1500 miles, then logging 2019 miles next year probably won’t be a slam dunk if it’s uncharted territory for you.
Plus, let’s be real: You’re probably not going to run every single day, or every single week. Life happens. So banking on running 5.53 miles every day or 38.8 miles every week won’t cut it.
If you want to run the year 2019, and you don’t already run 50+ miles in a typical week, you need a more robust training plan.
It may not be enough to simply train for one or two marathons or ultras. Oddly, training for a marathon or an ultra can hinder your ability to pile up the needed miles.
- You need to cut substantial miles for a taper in the weeks leading up to the race.
- You probably need to take time off from running after the race.
- That’s a month or more where your running is absent or heavily curtailed… which offsets the chunk of mileage you get running 26.2 (or more) miles on race day.
In fact, racing in general can limit your ability to pile up the needed miles. Even in shorter races you’ll need to taper in the few days beforehand, and then you’ll need to take it easy for some days afterward.
Plus, most of the races themselves are a lesser mileage than you may need to keep pace with 2019: 3.11 miles for a 5K, 6.21 for a 10K. You’re often not getting a ton of mileage bang for your buck on race day, plus you’re paying for it by needing to taper or rest surrounding the race.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to abandon all fun and stick to just long, easy distance running every day for a year to hit the benchmark.
It can be possible, and possibly healthy while maximizing your chances at success, to run the year 2019 while peaking for races, and then taking extended time off during the year.
The key to running the year 2019: You need to run enough volume while actively training to bank enough miles that you can take time off without losing ground.
What is that volume? I’m gonna go out on a limb and set the benchmark at 45 miles per week. You need to be comfortable logging 45 miles per week in whatever way allows you to safely, reliably do so.
- This can be one speedwork session, one long run, and then nothing but a bunch of longer easy paced runs the rest of the way, each week you run.
- It can be three 90+ minute runs with a longer long run on the weekend each week, taking a day off between most of the runs.
- It can be a daily run in the morning, then a run in the evening, every day if you wanted to.
However you do it, you want to make sure you can comfortably bank 45 miles per week pretty much every week you run.
The reason for this is because you will anticipate taking weeks off at a time throughout the year, plus anticipate that you will need to take incidental or unplanned days off throughout the year. If you run 45 miles a week, you can hit 2019 miles in 2019 while taking a bit over 7 total weeks off from running. It creates a substantial margin for error, while allowing you to build breaks into your training plans.
The human body can only handle a maximum of about 24 weeks of uninterrupted training before the law of diminishing returns kicks in and you start to lose more value and fitness from continuing than you gain. If your training doesn’t feature a regular break from training, you’ll want to train in 12-18 week cycles that are bookended by a week or more off from running.
This is no problem if you plan to run a marathon in 2019. But even if you’re not, it will do you good to take a break every few months, if not after any other races you do. Most runners need no coaxing to do this, but hardcore runners sometimes need the reminder. As runaholic as I can be, I realize I should take days off and extended breaks every so often.
This also better allows you to book some races in 2019 if you desire, without doing the aforementioned damage to your Run the Year 2019 goal. By logging more mileage than you technically need, you bank enough time to taper, take breaks, recover, etc, with peace of mind that you’re still ahead of the game.
So, if you’re gonna run the year 2019 this coming year, start by getting comfortable with about 45 miles a week. From there, hitting the benchmark will still take a lot of work, but will be within reach.