Collapse point is a running term defining the theoretical distance an athlete's previous training has equipped them to complete.

collapse point = (miles run / 7 days a week) * 3

Theorized by marathon runners during the "running boom" of the '70s and '80s and researched by two-time Olympian Kenny Moore, collapse point states that a runner can complete three times his or her daily average before they hit the dreaded Wall. Therefore, a marathon runner must average nearly nine miles per day (approximately 63 miles per week) to have the necessary endurance to finish the race.

It is important to note that collapse is based on a weekly average whether the runner trains every day or not. Someone doing three 23-mile runs per week and resting the other four days, will still have a 27-mile collapse point. Indeed, this sort of frequency and mileage may be more appropriate for marathons and beyond.

Collapse point encourages a more-is-better philosophy toward mileage, as faster runners generally have higher collapse points for the races they run. Top 10K runners get in a speedy 50 miles a week (collapse point = 21 miles), and marathoners obsess with the mythical 100-mile week (42-mile collapse point, whoa!).

It is also possible to cheat collapse point by increasing the distance of the weekly long run to the distance of the race or longer. Other runs during the week are few and easy. This has become a popular marathon training method in the past decade. It allows people who would never dream of doing a marathon complete one without turning training into a second job.

This is where there seems to be a schism between the running factions: the high mileage speedsters/ ultrarunners and the plodding course-swelling newbies. The former camp believes that no single run is important; the strength gained from each one will get you to the end. The latter camp is glad to do the minimum and joyous to finish. Both enjoy running and do as much as they can. Some bodies cannot conform to the collapse point theory. The ones who can should feel fortunate.

I've been in the latter camp for the past four years, blissful and injury-free. Lately, however, I've been running every morning, further and further, and have had a great time.

Hmmmm... a 42-mile collapse point. Man, that would be bitchin'.

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