I think that running by feel is the best way to run. I mean that in many ways. If you are out on an easy run and you feel good then you should go a little farther or a little faster (or both!). But the opposite is true as well. If things do not feel good you must be prepared to stop short. For some people it’s easier to go farther. For others it’s easier to go shorter.
For everyone it’s hard to be honest. To truly gauge how you feel is difficult and you have the best feedback of anyone! Sometimes when you tough it out things turn around and the workout becomes great. Other times it just gets worse. It takes experience and honesty to recognize these things.
I tend to fall on the side of doing too much. I am a firm believer in volume. It seems to be the tried and true method of running performance. Those that run well run a lot of miles, and most of those miles are easy miles. I’m driven by the number in my log. Seeing 60 miles in a week or 70 miles in a week makes me feel like I’m doing a good job but that is misleading. This week I ran a lot of miles but I did too many. Worst of all I knew I was doing too much but soldiered on so that I’d see a bigger weekly mileage number. Someday I hope to get smart and stop being pushed by numbers. Someday I will truly be honest with myself.
The pros may run 100 miles per week and I’m certain it’s exhausting. But they also know when to back off. That’s what makes them the pros. I won’t be a pro but I want to approach my limits.