Saturday, June 21, 2008

Badger Miles

The University of Wisconsin running program has in place a system for distance runners called "Badger Miles." There has been much confusion of what exactly Badger Miles are and the purpose of them. Chris Solinsky's explanation starts off by stating that each run is based on seven minute miles. So, if you go out for a run, you base the distance on your total time, based on seven minute pace.

Example - If I ran for 42 minutes today, it would be logged as a 6 mile run.

Sounds simple right? Well....Most Badger runners don't run seven minute pace. They run more in the range of 5:50 - 6:30 (this is a guess, but at their level this range seems fair). So if runner A goes out for a 42 minute run, he is more likely to cover closer to 7 miles, but only logs 6.

Getting confusing?

At the end of the week, runner A might log 80 miles, but in actuality, ran 95. Get it? Solinsky mentions in the video that when you look at 80 miles instead of 95 you feel as if you didn't run as much, so you feel better. I guess this is a way to mentally trick the mind into believing that you are not training as hard as your body might be telling you. Makes sense, I think.

I have talked to a few Wisconsin runners in the past and after seeing the above video, there is one aspect that hasn't been mentioned or fully explained. The reason for Badger Miles that runners don't talk about and as a coach I feel is the main reason is...

...ready, here is goes!


As a coach I have seen too many runners run hard every day and burn out by the end of the season. The body can't handle running at a fast pace every day, especially on recovery days after a race, speed session, or threshold run. So if you are told that only the miles you run at seven minute pace or slower count, a coach would hope that his runners would slow down and run that pace instead of 5:50 or 6:10 pace.

So, there you go, that's Solinsky's version and my version. What do you think of Badger Miles?


Jeremy said...

I've always loved using Badger Miles -- for me, I always got a sense of increased confidence looking at my log and knowing there were dozens of "hidden" miles in there each week.

For what it's worth, I heard Badger Miles explained differently by a badger from a bit before Solinsky's time. The way I heard it was you were only to count miles in 5 minute increments, always rounding "up" the minutes. Such as:

15 minutes = 2 miles
20 minutes = 3 miles
30 minutes = 4 miles
35 minutes = 5 miles
50 minutes = 7 miles

Not sure what you'd do with 6 miles, but I think the chart I saw was something along those lines...

Jason said...

I was a badger under both Martin and Jerry. Under Martin, all runs had both a distance and an effort. Level 1 was 7 minute pace or slower, level 2 was 6:30 to 7 minute pace level 3 was 6 to 6:30 pace. Our milage for the day would have a distance and an effort. Easy days were always level 1. All time was rounded up to the nearest 5 minute increment, 4 miles = 30 minutes, 6 miles = 45 minutes, 8 miles = 60 minutes, 10 miles = 70 minutes. The intention was to keep effort down on recovery days.

Under Martin, each athlete would run what was a comfortable pace, often faster then 7 minute pace, but would always document the run as level 1. Once Jerry came in, the effort level was thrown out of milage charts, but the time to milage conversion remained.

Figuring out how far you've gone on a trail system like the Arb is pretty much impossible. Because we ran the Arb pretty much every day all fall, spring, and summer, the system worked well for keeping track of milage. It really doesn't matter what your milage is, what's important is you train smartly and as hard as your body can handle year in and year out. For some athletes, that meant big milage, for others, less milage. Every athlete has a different level of talent and ability to handle training, and the great coaches know how to maximize training for each athlete.

The milage and workouts are what people seem to get hung up on with great athletes. Why is Jerry's group running really well right now? They are a really, really talented group of hard workers who have been training smart hard for many years.

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