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Will Increasing Miles Lead to a P.R.?

BY Hal Higdon

A runner looking to knock one minute off their goal time at Chicago’s Shamrock Shuffle 8k asks about adding mileage to a plan. Hal has the answer, though it may not be what you think.

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


My goal for Chicago’s Shamrock Shuffle this spring is to knock a minute off my time for the 8-K race. I plan to use your Advanced 8-K plan, with its weekly mileage 30-35, close to what I’m already doing as part of my training base. Should I bump the mileage somewhat to help me reach my goal?


Adding mileage is okay, but only for experienced runners with good mileage bases like you. My Advanced 8-K program lasts eight weeks. As the runner moves from week to week, the program’s difficulty increases, reaching a peak in Week 7, the week before the goal race. Week 8, then, is used for a short taper so the runner reaches the starting line both well trained and rested.

But the increase in difficulty comes not from adding more miles. In fact, the mileage build-up is minimal. The increase in difficulty comes from the speedwork inherent in all my advanced programs. In the Advanced 8-k Plan, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the reserved for speedwork with interval training is done on Tuesday and tempo runs on Wednesdays. Saturday is for pace and Sundays are to run long- although only 8 miles max.

Someone like you who was managing 35 miles a week in your base training certainly should be able to bump the mileage somewhat- but only somewhat. You could add a few miles to the “easy” runs on Mondays and Thursdays. Running longer on Sundays also could provide a few miles, getting you up to 45 or even 50 weekly miles. I’m not sure you want to do much more than that.

That’s because the key to the Advanced 8-K program is the speedwork. You don’t want to compromise your ability to run fast during your interval workouts and in your tempo runs. So you can bump up the degree of difficulty, both in speed and distance, but you will reap the most rewards if the bump is not too severe

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.