I did not start training pre-season in HS until my junior year of track. One big reason I did was I was tired of racing in pain most of the way. I learned you still raced in pain, but it was farther out and because I was in much better shape you could manage it better. This is so true for the ultras. The more you touch the earth the farther you can go. Same for the pain management. You just know a reprieve will come. Not so much when vastly under trained.
The though process for me and perhaps others is what is the minimum needed to achieve this? You want to run well, but not quite go to the military basic training routine. I can get there on an average of approximately 55 miles a week which are well distributed. For me it doesn't matter if it is a weekly long run every week, or every 2-3 weeks just so I keep my mileage up. In 2011 at Ice Age I ran an 8:03 on about 45 miles a week only running 4 days with 1 nice long run in there. I just didn't have the oomph needed. Sure the time was not far off the 7:55 and 7:56 I did the two following years, but I was freakin' hurting Bro.
Does 10 more miles a week make that much difference? I think it does. How much additional effort is needed to run those 10 more miles? Depends I guess...and it is probably most valuable if you do those 10 extra miles in one shot.
The question this year is how much beyond 55 do I need to get in a better time zone? At 52 it never gets easier, but is that 10 more miles or 20 more miles a week? In the past I usually made the decision that a well planned 65 is just as good as anyone else's 70-80, but I concede now I am probably wrong. First off when you face the daily rigors of life and are apt to join anyone on a run at the drop of the hat those plans go right out the window anyway. I'm starting to think a semi unplanned regiment of 70-80 wins out.
My last comment for this evening is have you ever noticed how hard it is to go from like 50 a week to 70 a week it is dastardly, but when you constantly are banging out 70-80 and jump to 90 or so seems easier? Just sayin'.