Quality versus Quantity. In a runner's world, I know these two are not mutually exclusive. I know there are many training plans, testimonials, examples, etc. of runner's who have managed to employ both quality and quantity in their regiment.
I am not one of them.
I am constantly learning more and more about running and how to improve my training and enjoyment. The one area I have made little progress is understanding how to manage quality runs against endurance building quantity. I have always tended to focus on high quality training runs at the expense of high mileage weeks. I value my rest. I almost never run on consecutive days despite the fact that most training plans prescribe just that. I never run at a pace like 90 seconds off my race pace (sometimes called a recovery run.) Most of my runs are probably 1-2 notches below how I would run during a race. For example, if I do a 10 mile run, I would train at 7:45 pace while I could do a 7:15 pace in the race itself. Occasionally, I might even train at a 7:30 pace for that distance. All of the time. The point is, with each run, I'm trying to run at a fairly brisk pace. It is a habit I started while training for the smaller 5k speed races and I really haven't changed despite moving on to longer distances.
I'm not sure if this is okay or I'm actually holding myself back. In my mind, I've always convinced myself that, hey, I may not be doing the big mileage but when I do go out I go out hard and fast. High quality runs. I type this rather sheepishly (not sure how you convey that in the written word) because I know that if I ran this by a training expert, the entire notion of High Quality Only runs would be immediately torn to shreds. The thing is that, when you only run 3-4 times a week, I would feel like I'm not getting anything out of 1-2 relaxed runs at a pace 60+ seconds slower than usual. The little voice in the back of my head (which also tells me to sit on the couch and drink beer occasionally) tells me this is incorrect but so far hasn't managed to convince the conscious reasoning part.
I'm sure I'm going about this training thing all wrong. But, for now while I keep seeing improvement, I'll press on with the emphasis on Quality rather than Quantity. It will probably not sink in to make the change until my training levels off.
Week in Review:
Despite what you have just read above, for the first time in over 2 years, I ran on 3 consecutive days (and 4 of 5). A little guilt crept in from the low mileage previous week. For the past seven days, I did nearly 32 miles. For kicks, during one run, I decided to really turn it on about halfway through one mile just to see what time I could post for that mile. I was happy to see 6:57 for that mile (and only "went for it" for half of that mile). I haven't registered a below 7 minute mile in awhile. Nice to know it's still there if I need it. And I may soon. I'm eye-balling a 5k in late March.