What are junk miles and are they worth it?

Breaking down what junk miles are and if you're running any

Last week, I wrote to you about recovery miles. Personally, I think my recovery runs are the hardest run to do - I'm sore, tired, run down, not running very far, and I usually lack enthusiasm for these types of runs.

This week, I'm going to touch on "junk miles": what are they, what do I think of them, and are they "worth" running.

Here's some back story... This week, I had wanted to do a short run to bridge the gap between an easy day of running and possibly a workout or a long run. I didn't want to run a lot of miles and I didn't care what pace they were run at. In theory, I suppose they could have been classified as a basic run but I think most (some?) of us would also call them junk miles. On the surface, they really didn't serve any true purpose.

That leads me to this question: What are junk miles?


Here's what I think of when I think about junk miles:

  • A run that doesn't make you stronger (like a long run)

  • A run that doesn't make you fitter (like a workout)

  • A run that doesn't help you recover from another run

  • Or a run where you have sloppy running form


I try and make sure every run has a purpose. Long run days are to run long and spend a lot of time on my feet. Workout days are there to build a stronger, more efficient engine (aka tempo runs, threshold repeats, intervals, or speed work). Basic runs help improve my aerobic capacity (ability to take in and use oxygen). And recovery days help me restore my body back to its normal state.

Personally, I don't have many runs where I am slogging through with crappy form not achieving something. The closest thing to having junk miles that I can think of is a stroller-pushing, dog-wielding jog to get both the kids and the dog out of the house. So, okay, maybe I have 1 junk miles day every other week.


Since I've told you about the 4 buckets of running I do (long runs, workouts, basic runs, recovery runs), I'll go ahead and say that any run that isn't one of those 4 could be considered junk miles.

But are they worth it? Hmm... I suppose that every mile is worth running - it does something, if not physically, then mentally, or socially. If not that, then psychologically. Knowing that you got out and ran when conditions weren't favorable or you didn't feel like it; that counts as a win to me.

What do you think? Leave a comment, reply, chat on Facebook.

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Friday’s Action Plan:

Make sure each of your runs (and cross training days) has a purpose. To avoid “junk miles” aim to have a goal for each workout you do.

Big Events Coming Up:

Thanksgiving Day/Weekend Turkey Trots

What’s Got My Attention:

Article: How to Gear Up for Cold Weather Running

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Create Advanced Workouts within Your Garmin Watch

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Popular Newsletter Sessions:

Losing Power, Gaining Perspective - Jun ‘20

Take Your Recovery Miles Seriously - Nov ‘20

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"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." -Steve Prefontaine

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Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans, and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.