Tag Archives: Elite Runners

An Elite Runner’s Job Isn’t Just Their Running

Sometimes people discuss the number of hours per week an elite sponsored runner trains, which is often in the 10-15 hours per week range. Inevitably someone brings up the argument that the sponsored elite runner’s job must be a nice job, only having to work 10-15 hours per week.

Let’s never mind the clearly exhausting effort that 10-15 hours can require, and how it’s obviously not the same as someone sitting at a desk 10-15 hours a week let alone 40.

Let’s also never mind any promotional or media work the athlete has to do as part of their written commitment, or any required travel.

Don’t forget that part of your training includes your diet, your recovery, and how you manage the rest of your life. If any of this falls short, it adversely affects the quality and results from your training.

So in effect, an elite sponsored athlete, facing high expectations with their race results, also is working when they are recovering. That is effectively part of their job: Eating right to fuel recovery as well as future workouts, getting the needed rest to recover from the last workout and prepare for the next, etc. All of these tasks are in effect part of their responsibility to their running because they are necessary to get the needed results when they do run.

So no, an elite runner’s job isn’t just the 10-15 hours a week they run. It’s also the hours of meal prep and consumption, the hours where a point is made to stay off their feet and rest even if they want to go out and do something, eating food they’d rather not eat because it’s healthy and essential to their recovery, etc.

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100 mile weeks are for elites. You should run as much as your life allows.

Despite talking about adding mileage to my training… I’m not worried about building a lot of new running volume. I peaked at 50-55 miles my last training cycle, and that’s probably fine as a max average for this next training cycle. Like most, I don’t have the natural speed to run more than that given my available time and physical capacity.

Elites who run 100+ miles a week also run easy 6-7 minute miles, can run speedwork with 4:00-5:00 minute/mile paces, and can knock out those 100+ miles a week in fewer than 8-9 hours per week of running.

Another important point: Virtually all elite runners are sponsored and can build their entire lives around training because running can be their job. They can spend virtually all the time outside of training relaxing and focusing on recovery.

Meanwhile, working class runners do not have that luxury. We also have to navigate the stressors, work and competing demands of everyday life. Those who live in big cities also have to commute a lot on foot. Eliud Kipchoge is not battling hordes on the subway to get to a day job, and then weaving his way through the neighborhood to get groceries and pay bills, while also training to run a 2:00:00 marathon for his next race.

So, barring the speed to run easy at 7:00/mile plus some resourcefulness and extra ambition… most of us shouldn’t run more than 60-70 miles a week. Not only are most of us not built to reasonably run that kind of volume, but we’ve got so much other work to do everyday that we risk burnout and injury going beyond that.

If your easy mile pace is more like 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 12:00 or slower per mile… your volume should be lower until you pace improves.

I’ve written a bit about this before, but we should look at our training volume in terms of time required than in terms of just mileage.

I offer the following guidelines, hodge podged together from the principles of other top running minds (Daniels, Hanson, Fitzgerald, Higdon, etc).

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