Neat and predictable weekly mileage is often talked about with great importance. But as the reality of training goes, weekly mileage on its own may paint an incomplete picture of an athlete’s overall training status.
Consider the example we have above. After returning to running in May 2020, the respective athlete recorded various strings of training weeks which are plotted on this mileage graph. At a glance, some of these weeks seem fairly erratic and inconsistent – I’ve marked these weeks with a red dot. But when we plot the same athletes training on a monthly mileage graph, the athletes training appears far more consistent and there’s a clear and logical progression to their mileage load.
We often find that we need to actually take a step back from training and look at the bigger picture to get a better sense of how things are going. With mileage in particular, it’s something that’s subject to all sorts of variables that can create a skewed and inaccurate depiction of things.
Some of the following are typical examples of variables that can affect mileage while not necessarily changing one’s training load:
– Low vs high volume workouts (e.g., a track session versus a long tempo run)
– Taking non-scheduled rest
– Training cycles that are different to a one-week cycle – so things such as a rest day or long run will have a heavy weighting in particular 7-day weeks but not others
– Race or time trial efforts will affect a week’s mileage due to the tapering and recovery processes.
The key point from all of this is that good-looking weekly mileage graphs are more of a motivational factor, rather than something that (in isolation) provides a useful indication of one’s training quality and progression. It’s certainly something that’s useful to look at and monitor, but it needs to be viewed with caution and with the realization that the bigger picture is far more important, and that a week’s quality is determine by many factors other than simply the total mileage.