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There is a growing trend in triathlon coaching circles to increase the run frequency of their athletes. Traditional workout schedules for age-group athletes call for no more than three or four runs per week. Typically one of those is a long run, with a couple more faster paced runs make up the core of the weekly routine.
For well over a year now, I have increased my run frequency from four-times to seven-times per week. That's right: every single, stinking day. Or like General Patton replied after being asked if he prayed; "every damn day," he said.
why I started running everyday
The cartilage on my talus bone (the bone on the foot that connects to the leg) is very worn out and is on the verge of ending my running career at any time. My podiatrist (a cyclist and triathlete) is amazed I can still run and is doubly amazed I can compete competitively. My kneecap seems to have a similar issue, so until cartilage graph surgery is perfected for this type of injury, I have to be very thankful for any running at all. So after reading some articles about increasing run frequency, I decided to give it a try.
my experience from 7-day per week running
I'm running 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 miles each morning at about 8:30 - 8:45 per mile pace. One day a week I run around 5 miles and do 2 miles of it at tempo effort. I'm doing virtually no track workouts and no long runs, so the only "quality" running I'm doing is the tempo run and occasional races.
At 50+ years old, I don't have any dreams of personal records, but I can say I have run better as measured from road race times and triathlon splits, than I have for 4 or 5 years. Even with these slow, short training runs, I've been able to race at 6:10 pace for an open 5 mile road race and 6:40 pace for a 10K triathlon split consistently this past season.
I've always been lean but I lost about eight pounds in the first six months and two inches from my waist size after my switch to 7 day a week running. I am 6' and weigh about 150 lbs. The weight loss is not explained by an increase mileage because my runs now are so short, the total weekly volume is about the same (25-28 miles per week). The extra calories being burned I believe can be accounted for by the raising of my core temperature and metabolism, more often. Scientific studies clearly indicate that more calories are burned by doing more frequent workouts instead of fewer, but bigger workouts.
My positive experience with 7-days per week running, in terms of the improved running times, might be explained away by pointing out the benefit I am surely getting from 26 years of running in my legs. I'm inclined to agree with this theory but in the end, the reason doesn't really matter. What matters is 7-day a week running works well from a competition standpoint and from a health standpoint. It's easier on my body and I've found a great way to fit it in each day.
The bottom line is, 7-day per week run training, at least how I'm doing it, is much easier than the training I used to do. It's much less stressful on my legs and my body and yet I'm racing better than I have in several years. I believe this strategy can work well for other experienced masters competitors. I believe you can expect to lose weight, experience less trauma to your body, and even run faster than last season.
how to fit in 7 runs a week?
Here's how I fit in 7 runs every week. It's pretty simple - I get up 30 minutes earlier than I used to and get out the door - no matter the weather. For me, that means the alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. This still leaves me with my lunch break and evenings for a couple more workouts each day - swimming, biking and in the winter - weights, yoga classes, and tennis (yes, I've been goofing around with indoor tennis).