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Traditionally, it has been thought that a marathoner must always run prodigiously high volumes—upwards of 20 miles a day for the top athletes. In contrast, James Kwambi and Duncan Kibet only run 80-90 miles a week, often only running once per day. However, other elite marathoners like Martin Lel and Robert Cheruiyot maintain 135-150 miles per week.

Whereas low-mileage marathoners run 60% (50 miles a week) of their mileage near marathon pace, higher-volume runners do less than 37 miles per week near marathon pace, and the proportion is much smaller—only 25-30% of the weekly volume. Why is high mileage not necessary for Kibet and Kwambi to run 2:04 marathons? To answer this, we have to return to Canova’s thesis—all non-specific training exists only to support the body’s ability to do race-specific training.

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