Badger Miles

May 7, 2014

Badger Miles

I was reading an Interview with Shalane Flanagan on Runner’s World the other day about her awesome Boston Marathon run. When asked about how many miles she ran each week in preparation, she referenced “Badger System” as her training method during her response (second page of the article):

“It’s hard to say because I measure my mileage a little differently than most people. I go by the Badger system, so most of my mileage is counted at eight-minute pace per mile. So if I do an 80-minute run, I only count that as 10 miles.”

I had never heard of this system, so I went digging. Surprisingly, I didn’t find much. Apparently it’s used by the University of Wisconsin, hence “Badger” system. I found one blog, High School Runner, where the guy seemed to know what he was talking about.

From High School Runner:

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.

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.

It’s an interesting concept. It’s sort of a middle of the road between running just on time and not keeping track of miles, and running based on distance without regard for time, which seem to be the two opposite ends of the training spectrum. I guess it seems more related to running based on time but gives you at least some way to estimate how much ground you covered. My thoughts:

1. Riddle me this…why is she using an 8-minute mile as her base? That’s, like, almost 2 times slower than she ran the Boston Marathon. Doesn’t this mean she is grossly underestimating her miles? Wouldn’t an elite runner care about that? Is she punting/avoiding answering the question?

2. I think it would be hard for many runners to do – I assume you would have to do an out and back, or loops or something, and turn around at a certain time, just like running based on time? Even that would be hard as runners often start to recognize landmarks in their typical running routes and how many miles those are. At least I do, in my own neighborhood.

3. What he is saying makes sense, but I think it would be hard to actually slow down. Many runners are super competitive people and have a hard time slowing down even when they know they should. To be fair, he says a coach would “hope” their runners would.

4. Currently, I run based primarily on time, because that’s what my training plan has me doing. But I like to know how many miles I actually covered. I may, in fact, be addicted to my GPS watch, which I hear is a common phenomenon. I’m totally one of those people that will run laps in the parking lot if I’m at X.89 miles to get to the round number of miles. I’m able to relax if I need to, and not push the pace, but I really, really like to know how many miles I’ve covered…exactly. This would be hard for me.

What are your thoughts, dear reader? Smart system? Stupid system?


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