A thought On higher volume

“tell us whats right? Because its pounding in my heart.” GB

I was listening to Matt Fitzgerald who wrote that book on getting to race weight and he said the way to get to race weight is high volume. Increasing volume will bring idea weight for those who need to lean out (for skinny people you get your own post that is about eating more and hitting the gym). More training will burn more calories and cause lower percent body fat provided you dont increase your calorie intake. When thinking about what limits most athletes I really think its body composition. I hear people complain “I am too slow” and I heard a coach say “you need to run faster in training to run faster in your marathon.”

But I wonder what would happen if these 3:30-4:30 marathoners did the marathon 20-30 lbs lighter. I bet running at what feels slow is 1-2 minutes faster per mile. No speed work, no injuries from the track and pounding out intervals and repeats with crushing weight on joints.

So while high mileage helps in other ways (making athletes stronger, fitter, more efficient), one key factor is that it burns a ton of calories. The only way you can do a high volume training plan is to keep the effort in check so you can recovery and hit it again day and day (after day after day).

So when people talk about “junk miles” how about we think of it as “losing the junk in the truck” miles. This is most key this time of year when body fat is highest and fitness lowest making that speed work most dangerous.

I wonder, do people want to do speed work because they think it helps, because they think it’s fun, or because in this busy age do people want a short cut?

I suggest people look for ways to train more (you may want to also get tattooed sleeves) look for time to train that you might have missed, be focused, make a plan that doesn’t waste time and then see how much you can do.

To be clear I am not proposing no speed work ever, but for ironman distance racing its not short and there are not short cuts.




  1. “I wonder, do people want to do speed work because they think it helps, because they think it’s fun, or because in this busy age do people want a short cut?”

    Here is what I think, looking back at my personal experience and that of others. Newer runners are more likely to do more speed work. You always hear “no pain no gain” and it becomes ingrained in their mind. I feel that the more a runner knows about training philosophy and physiology, the less speed work they do.

    Some may do it to cut time. See the FIRST training program.

  2. John, I like this post. Very much so, actually. I can’t tell you how much I cringe inside, listening to athletes and their IM preparation with tons of speed and tempo work. I have been so lucky to train with a coach that believes very much in a lot of MAF work, especially this time of year. I have run well under sub-4 on a very, very hilly IM course with ZERO speedwork or tempo work in preparation. I also negative split the course. Oh, and ran my fastest miles at the end. On no speedwork. I mean ZERO for the whole year. The best benefit? I stay healthy and recovered day in and day out to put out more work day after day. At first I would try to explain this to friends/teammates…then I would try to help if they asked…but finally I just let it go and watch them do what they think will work (based on absolutely nothing except they think that being fast must mean training fast all of the time). If only people would really study this more…..

  3. One of the reasons why we have added speed into my run sessions is to build a neural memory. I am a novice runner and rather slow. I don’t have experience “going fast”. With some treadmill sessions, always paying close attention to form, speed, and time intervals, I am able to help my body to understand what leg turnover feels like. And to push myself beyond what I previously thought I would be capable of doing.

    Consider speed work basic education for some of us…

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