This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
Recently, I was out on a recovery run the day after a pretty hard-run long run. I was originally hoping for 10 miles in order to complete a 70 mile week. However, while my legs didn’t feel horrible, they were flat and my pace was definitely off. Deep down, I knew I should stick with 8 miles, get in my hour’s worth of running and not push the distance given how I felt. However, that 10 mile run and 70 mile week was definitely in the back of my mind and I was looking for any reason possible to go for it.
I’m a competitive runner. Always have been, can only imagine that I always will be. While daily and weekly mileage numbers may be the most important things to some people and training paces may be the most important numbers to other people, for me, it’s all about race times and places. What will produce the best results on race day? From my observations, most runners would prioritize race day results even if they don’t think of themselves as competitive runners. You want to break 3 or 4 hours in the marathon. You want to qualify for Boston. You want to break 20 minutes in the 5K or 60 minutes in the 10K or you want to beat your neighbor in your upcoming race.
If these are your goals, then keep those things in mind when you’re out on a run like my recent one. Will that extra mile or two make you faster on race day or will it detract from an upcoming workout and make you slower on race day? That’s not always an easy question to answer but it’s one we should always be thinking about.
In the end, I’m happy to say I got to the 4 mile mark, recognized I wasn’t going to accomplish anything meaningful by going an extra 2 miles and asked myself what I would tell the runners I coach. It only took a split second for me at that point to turn around and stick with 8 miles.