Junk Miles?

It’s Wednesday and I’m joining in on the Wednesday Word link up, hosted by Debbie. Each week Deb provides a word prompt for us to write about. This week’s word is quality. Click on the button below to see who else is linking up today and to join in!

Deb Runs

I hate the term ‘junk miles’ and the notion that the only type of beneficial run is one with a purpose. As a matter of fact, I do not believe in junk miles. Easy runs are just as important as those quality runs (i.e. speed work, hill repeats, long runs, etc.). They have their own purpose, by giving you the chance to actively recover. Not to mention, if you make every single run some type of workout, you may see improvement initially but it will almost always lead to injury. Sometimes I think that cutting out all easy runs, because they’re “junk miles,” is really just another way of people trying to do the least to gain the most.

I have always been a critic of the thought that every run has to have some purpose. My opinion on easy runs being an important part of training was definitely solidified when I read the Hansons Marathon Method book and followed their training plan for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2014. You could say I drank the Kool Aid. Their theory is that easy running provides its own set of physiological benefits. Bear in mind easy running doesn’t necessarily mean slow. It means an easier pace than your other workouts. Those easy runs also help build your mileage volume slowly, allowing you to reach new mileage highs, as I experienced through my training.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

 

When it comes to quality versus quantity while training for a long distance event, I think they are mutually inclusive concepts . You need those quality workouts to help build speed and strength. They make up the top of the training pyramid. But the base of that pyramid is made up of easy runs, and it’s where the quantity part comes in. The bottom line is that each run should have a purpose in relation to your training. When you look at easy runs by themselves, they may not seem to have a purpose. But when you think in terms of the big picture and your training as a whole, those runs allow you to improve your aerobic abilities, recover from other workouts, and build your endurance.

What are your thoughts on the term “junk miles?”
What do you think on quality versus quantity in relation to training?

14 Comments

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  1. I’m all about quality over quantity. But “junk miles” or easy runs are sometimes mentally necessary during a grueling training plan!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Less is more: Quality race trainingMy Profile

    1. I think it’s important to have that active recovery. It keeps running fun and gives you that mental break without taking a full rest day.

  2. Easy runs do have a purpose they train your aerobic system and build stamina. I wish I could run everyday but my body doesn’t agree. I do treasure the miles I do run. Fun topic to write about!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…QualityMy Profile

    1. My heart wishes to run every day, but my brain burns out 🙂

  3. I do think junk miles are a thing, but not quite like we normally think of them. I think junk miles are those miles that you’re running when you’re over training and running every day because you think you HAVE to be running that much. I agree with you that easy miles have a purpose in training, and not every run needs to be a workout. But I think when someone is over doing it just to get miles in, then those become junk miles because they’re doing more detriment to their body than good.
    Alison recently posted…Freeze Yer Gizzard!My Profile

    1. Great point! I like that definition for junk miles and I totally agree.

  4. I was struggling with my IT last year, so yes, I cut out my easy runs. Which left me with tempo, long, and speedwork.

    It worked for me.

    During my off season, almost every run is an easy run — that’s where I take my break.

    But never say never . . . I’m never satisfied and always trying a new training plan. I do stick to just one training plan at a time. Usually.

    Interesting to read everyone’s take on it!
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Quality is not an act; it is a habit (Aristotle)My Profile

    1. That’s a great example of how different approaches work for different people. It’s never one size fits all.

  5. For me, my long runs are usually my “easy” runs… but are runs every really easy 🙂 LOL! I love when I have the unexpected run where I can say, WOW… that was so easy, I could go for miles and miles!! Great blog!

    1. Easy run is a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it? I do love those magical runs, too. I think we all live for those!

  6. There is no such thing as junk miles, in my opinion. I think it’s important to just run sometimes for the pure enjoyment of it…without any purpose other than the love of it. But then I would argue that’s definitely a quality run.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Quality vs. QuantityMy Profile

    1. I agree with you. Those are definitely quality runs, too, because they help foster our love for running.

  7. When I took the RRCA coaching class our instructor talked about the importance of “junk miles,” only he said it’s better to refer to them as “easy conversation miles.” I love how you include to the importance of quantity as being the easy miles on the bottom of the pyramid.

    Thanks for linking up!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…When Winter Storm Jonas Turned Into SnowzillaMy Profile

    1. Easy conversation miles has a much better connotation 🙂

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