If I were going to generalize about the Type-A-ness of runners versus cyclists versus triathletes, I’d say that runners, on the whole, are the most relaxed and non-Type-A out of the three groups. That being said, runners need to put a big fat asterisk next to the term weekly mileage. Why? Because we as runners are insanely anal of running our exact mileage; for example, we need to run our 6-mile run and not (heaven help us!) 5.96 miles or 6.04 miles – I don’t know if we have all been brainwashed by the GPS-Gods (Damn you, Garmin!) or have some sort of Pavlovian-like response of pure serenity when we see zeros in the tenths and hundredths columns on our GPS devices; either way, we are better than this, folks!

Epiphany

Well, today I had an epiphany – out of the box thinking! What if we all started not to worry so much about running distances to the exact mile. Our 8-mile planned run may end up being 8 miles, but it may end up being 7.78 miles or 8.14 miles, especially if we take a circuitous route versus an out-and-back route. What would be the harm? Would our weekly miles suddenly plummet? I don’t think so.

Tenths of Miles like Loose Change

You know how some of us have a loose change jar in our house that we throw any spare change from the day into, and then at the end of the year we empty it out to find that we have somehow saved $184.67 all in coins! It’s like found money, but hiding in plain sight. Well, my thought was why not think that same way in terms of the tenths of miles we run and not discard them like worn pennies and nickels, but save them and see what sort of weekly mileage comes out of it – we may be surprised with the results…

Putting into Practice

Let’s see what can happen when we don’t run exactly to the mile on each an every run:

Running to the Mile Running to the Tenth or Hundredth Difference
8.0 7.99 -.01 miles
6.0 6.32 +.32 miles
6.0 6.04 +.02 miles
7.0 6.92 -.08 miles
5.0 5.02 +.02 miles
5.0 4.93 -.07 miles
rest rest .00 miles
+.20 miles Weekly Total Difference

Now, I understand this is a fictitious weekly log, but I would argue that when we go on a run (especially a loop route) that we end up running a bit farther or a bit shorter than we anticipated. And instead of running that extra minute to reach exactly 5 miles or even that extra 30 seconds to run 5.5 miles instead of 5.46 miles, why don’t we just stop and move on with out day?

Why Does Any of this Matter?

To be honest, it really doesn’t matter, other than the fact that some of us focus on the wrong areas of our training and think running an extra .04 miles, which will  give us exactly 40 miles for the week instead of an “unsuccessful” 39.96 miles for the week is what we need to do. And while weekly mileage is an important component to our training, what is also important is the quality of our runs, speed work, strength training, eating right and rest.

If you are doing all of those other ares of your training well, then I have no qualms with you; but, if those other areas are lacking the same attention you put into running 8.0 miles instead of 7.97 miles, then you may want to rethink how you go about your training…

Happy Running!

 

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