The build: Looking at my mileage progression

When I was writing Tuesday’s post on how to train and plan for an extended race season (where triathlons go into November), I got to thinking a little bit about how my mileage builds each week.  I was pondering the basics of training adaptation which essentially says that in order to improve you must make a change in your training over time.  That could be increasing time, distance, frequency or intensity. So I decided to look back at my training build on the bike and run thus far this year, as well as previous years.  It provides an opportunity to see how I’ve slowly built up in mileage from literally no cycling in December (you may remember…I was travelling around the world then), to the 70+ mile rides that I’m at now in preparation for Boise 70.3 in a little under a month. You can see below the simple stepping up of my cycling mileage, as well as reduction in mileage at the end of each training set.  Sometimes it was reduced a bit more due to a race (running or triathlon).  The chart below shows the longest single workout that given week (not total mileage). image As you can see, there aren’t any random 100-milers tossed in, or other massive spikes.  It’s a pretty gradual build in mileage over time, with the time being basically 5 months.  It’s not like I did a 15 miler one day, and then a 75 the next weekend. The same goes for the run, where you see essentially the same pattern – starting off at only 5 miles and then building up to my current long run being about 17 miles (2 hours).  Most of my runs are actually time-based and not mileage based. Again – a very gradual build here, even and without any surprises.  The few dips you see are related to races and the recovery afterwards.  Typically my coach is very cautious when it comes to running directly after a race – focusing instead on easier swim and bike workouts. image Now that we’ve looked at this year, let’s turn back the clock a bit and look at 2009 – where I did a July 70.3 race, and then an Ironman in August, an Aqua-Velo Iron-distance race in September, and then Ironman Florida in November. Looking at the bike first, you see the gradual build to the first 70.3 race in July (though at that point my mileage was already 100+ miles), then a short recovery before peaking one last time before Ironman Canada in August.  Then you see recovery for a few weeks before a quick build again for a late-September Iron-distance race, before one final push and then taper towards the early November Ironman Florida: image Looking next at the run front you see that I largely start to plateau (except longer races) by April, as I was doing Boston that year and needed to have my mileage built up earlier.  The three massive spikes are the three marathon’s that I ran (Boston Marathon, Ironman Canada, Ironman Florida).  Otherwise, my long run distance stayed the same at around 20 miles (2hr 30m) for the duration of the season. image The point of my post isn’t terribly profound per se – but rather just a look a well structured build (not by me, of course, but by my Coach).  Sometimes you have to step back a bit from the week to week runs and rides to see the bigger picture.  It allows you to understand the overall trending and ensure that you’re not going astray of typical 10% rules (which say no more than 10% increase a week) or just going crazy on mileage that may not be beneficial at a given stage in training.


Hopefully, you found this post useful. The website is really a labor of love, so please consider becoming a DC RAINMAKER Supporter. This gets you an ad-free experience, and access to our (mostly) bi-monthly behind-the-scenes video series of “Shed Talkin’”.

Support DCRainMaker - Shop on Amazon

Otherwise, perhaps consider using the below link if shopping on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. It could simply be buying toilet paper, or this pizza oven we use and love.


Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

Click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture



  1. Tuouhese cardio workouts before doing your abdominal exercises. Add in a good diet plan to your routines and you’ll be noticing changes in no time! Be sure to workout no less than 3 days a week making sure that you manage to finish each core exercise within the week.

  2. As a math person, that 10% rule has always bothered me. If you are recovering from an injury and have 0 running miles, well, then you can never increase! So where do you start?!

  3. Terry T (Chicago)

    Ray, you obviously adore your coach.Given the relationship you have with him ,how can you objectively look at his performance in regards to continuing to pay for services or moving on to another coach ? I ask because I have noticed a pattern over the last year or two of ‘falling’ times in similar races for you (we all use the work excuse). In fact now you seem to not want to post times anymore ? Can a adorable relationship possibly block us from considering someone else ?

  4. Not using a progression is EXACTLY how I got hurt when I switched from all running to Tris. I didn’t work my running miles up, despite running less, and ended up suffering in all 3 sports, performance-wise (well, that and I did all my biking on a 15-year old MTB).

    Now, I’m really screwed up in my knee, and doing PT sessions twice weekly. When I’m back into the swing of things, I’m definitely using a training book/guide, or good ol’ DCR for mentoring. I hate how I look/feel this year. :-(

  5. Hi Terry-

    I think a lot of things go into looking at his (and my) perfomance, but in many ways that depends on my goals with working with him. Keep in mind my goals aren’t nessessarily to win every race (though that might be nice, it’s not realistic), much of what I enjoy about working with a coach is how much I learn about the sport and training.

    If I look at 2010 (last year) my season was mixed. It started off really good with a 8K run PR and then outright winning my first triathlon of the season, April brought a good solid podium finish as well.

    Things did indeed get a bit rough after May, but I think if you look at the details – some of it kinda makes sense:

    A) I got hit by a car in the Rev3 race in May…that put a dent in training and racing for quite some time
    B) I spent June-December travelling every.single.week to a different international country for work. My commute was 11,000 miles each way, mostly on redeyes. I knew this upfront and thus didn’t put much importance on racing and training in the second half of the year.

    Looking at my only ‘A’ race for last year – NYC Tri – even though I wasn’t happy with my bike, I still PR’d the race for a true non-short Oly-distance race and set a new run PR (39:00).

    You mentioned ‘years’, and above I focused on 2010. In 2009 I PR’d at every single race I did that year (except Boston and the Turkey Trots, those were for fun). For 2011 my “A” races are in June and November – those are my benchmarks.

    As for not posting times, I do actually post my times, AG places and everything else in every race report. I haven’t yet added the 2011 sidebar thingy with all my races and times…merely because I just don’t have enough minutes in the day to do everything. Or even 10% of everything I need to do around these parts. I know it sounds small – and it is, but I just have to prioritize the massive list of items on the to-do list each day and this one simply has been lower. That said, I’ll get it done/updated today.

    Thanks for reading!

  6. Terry T (Chicago)

    Thanks Ray ! Good luck this season !

  7. I love looking at mileage progressions! (OK seriously I love all the little graphs and analysis tools in TP LOL) Mine look very similar for my builds over each year – fun stuff!

  8. Anonymous

    Ray – Way to nix the haters!