Monday, 16 January 2012

Ouch - injury strikes

So there I was out for my long run on Sunday when I felt the beginnings of a twinge in my lower left calf muscle. On I trot following my usual principle of running through the pain. It's fine for a while and then, just under a hour in, I tackle a short incline. By the time I reached the top my calf was really sore, but I was miles from home with not a bus stop in sight.

I hobbled on for a bit and then realised that if I kept running I could risk seriously injuring my leg - not what you need three months out from a marathon. I reluctantly pulled up and limped to the next bus stop. Just under 6 miles into what was meant to a 13 mile run and I was done. I have never stopped like this, but I thought it was better to lose out on a training run or two and make it to the big day, than solider on only to find I couldn't make it through the marathon.

The cause of my injury? Well that is simple. The moment I entered the marathon I was overwhelmed by all the advice and training plans there are out there. You will be told to do everything from sprints, to hill runs, interval training to threshold runs. There is enough jargon surrounding marathon training to rival an episode of House.

In my mind I know what suits me. I am not built for speed. I can plod along at a decent pace for hour upon hour, reaching that trance like state that can carry you through a long run with ease. Ask me to sprint and I am reaching for the sick bowl, screaming in pain and generally not enjoying myself. However, I have read and been told by so many 'experts' that I must incorporate speed training into my marathon schedule that I felt compelled to do so.

Big mistake. I suspect sprinting up a particularly evil hill 10 times in a row was to blame for my injured calf. Either way it is undoubtedly due to over training. I should have stuck to my common sense guns which told me that to train for a long run, what I needed to do was lots of long runs - doesn't matter if they are slow. I just need to train my body to keep putting one foot in front of the other for a long time.

I looked at programmes that prescribed this method and felt that they would suit me best, but was swayed when the latest advice scathingly called this approach old fashioned. Instead I went for new fangled, and pushed my body beyond it's limits. I am now paying the price.

For the rest of my training I am sticking to a new plan set out by a man I really respect as he is the one who showed me the joy of running in the first place, by teaching me the simple principle of running slow to run fast. It works at every level, or at least it works for me. So thanks Mark from Up and Running.


  1. Sorry to hear you're injured but glad to hear you're tackling it sensibly and not doing what I did! Hope you're back on track very soon! P.S. Am writing a piece for Bodyfit about overtraining!

  2. Thanks. It feels a bit better now, so am crossing my fingers my approach will see me healed in no time. Tell me what you learn for your article, would be interested to know.