Advice Welcome!! Running Smart Running Strong????

No Pain No Gain

This whole training thing can mess with your head. In typical Type A-personality style, I have been diligently following the plan to a T, and obsessing about every minor detail. My week started reasonably well:

  • Monday: recovery 2.2miles recovery run with my beginners running group
  • Tuesday: 5.5 miles with 5*400m repeats with 200m recoveries
  • Wednesday: 6 miles hill run around Durham


By Wednesday my legs were pretty tired, and my left shin was twinging. So, of course, my immediate thoughts were ‘oh god, they’re shin splints, I’m going to be off my legs for ages, where’s the ice, I NEED ICE GODDAMMIT!!’


On Thursday I taught a pole class, which included some lovely stretches, and on Friday I had a sports massage. As well as pummeling my legs til they felt like bruised bananas, the physio reassured me that the twinge was muscular rather than on the bone. So…. I may have overreacted.


This is where my head is struggling: what is normal fatigue for this amount of exercise, and what’s a warning of oncoming injury? When can I push through, and when should I pull back?


No Pain No Gain


I’ve written before about the mental aspects of running. I think all runners must be people who like to be in control to some extent: we set a goal, and then push ourselves to reach it. If you’re not in control of the situation – or of your own abilities to push through at least – then it will be tougher to overcome challenges and obstacles as you face them.  I read somewhere that how you train is how you will race: if you don’t go for that sprint finish on a Saturday, you won’t on race day. If you give in to temptation and stop during the run, you’ll be tempted on race day.


Back to my hypochondria injury caution. I don’t want training to suffer, but I don’t want to push through and injure myself. And I don’t want to fall behind in what I should be able to do by being too cautious. I mean, I’ve already missed my chance of being a Hollywood star from being too cautious to move to L.A. and be discovered. It would be awful if I didn’t learn from my mistakes (every Oscars weekend brings with it contemplation of the life I should have led… that Jennifer Lawrence now has).



Enjoy it J-Law. It could have been mine.

So – as per the physio’s recommendation, I’ve taken 3 days off to let my banana legs get back to normal. And now  it’s time to make some lifestyle changes: less fast food, more sleep, less wine, more stretches, less obsessing, more monitoring on a normal level. From there, I’ll see how each day goes and … generally try not to freak out.


For anyone who’s reading this who have already run the Great 26.2 – I know this isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff. But when it’s the first time, you’re aware of everything.  With every event you want to give yourself the best chance, but I don’t know how to train for this! There’s a fine balance there somewhere, and I’m trying to find it.


Does it sound like my approach would work? Are there any other tips?


I saw this in Runner’s World today and it 100% captured the whimsy I love about running (except when you’re on a strict training schedule). Where have you run today?


Ellie B


P.S. SB and I just finished Captain Phillips. It’s amazing!! It was so tense that I barely took a breath throughout the whole thing.

9 thoughts on “Advice Welcome!! Running Smart Running Strong????

  1. Heya…..that is such a tricky question! I think you are experienced enough as a runner that you know what is just sore and can be pushed through and what is a potential injury. I am always wary of repeated pain……so if you feel a niggle in the same area on a few runs it can be a sign of something developing. I know when my legs are weak that i feel it in my knees and that is a sign I need to do more strength work. Good work on taking some time off, smart decision! Don’t stress about missing sessions…..I never hit all mine. I imagine most people don’t……life gets in the way! So keep doing what you are doing and you will be fine. Sometimes stuff is sore for a run and you never feel it again. I also know when my shoes are old and need replacing my Achilles acts up……so be wary of that too. your shoes and how suitable they are for you. Sorry – not really been any help!

    • Thank you!! It’s nice to hear that it’s ok to miss sessions – cos you can feel like you’ll be left behind if you don’t do all the ‘homework’. I got some new shoes too, which help support when my little legs get tired.

      You seemed so strong during your training – one thing I’ve learned from yours is how important all the other stuff like foam rolling etc is.


  2. My problem with plans is that are made to sort of generally fit a general part of the population and are written by an expert that has forgotten just how hard it is when you are doing your first.

    Let’s ask why have a plan? Answer is usually let’s do this to improve our time, increase out fitness, achieve a goal. The question you need to ask is what is your goal, what are you trying to achieve?

    If the answer is finish the marathon you can walk/jog/walk the distance in 7hours. So you want to run it in a respectable time what is that 4:15, 4:30?

    If this is the case do what you need to get your legs used to long distances and ditch the military drill that is meant for minions.

    My simple outlook is try and do a minimum 3 runs a week. A long, a recovery easy short and a hellfire fast. Typically a long, followed by a short recovery and then a fast, #rinserepeat

    In your long runs go slow and keep enough in the tank to finish strong – and make sure you get electrolytes and stay hydrated (when the distances start getting longer). Recovery should be done not later than a day after so if you legs are banana the next day – force yourself out on the day after – I usually do barefoot on grass wearing sockwa socks. the fast is then done two days later – this is giving you time to recover.

    Doing Mon-Tue-Wed and the pole class has no rest in between that is the same as doing all those on the same day as you haven’t given your body a chance to recover. Just keep it simple – stay disciplined to increase the distance at your comfort zone but rest and hydrate heaps in between. The more rested you are the further you will run at great ease and you won’t hurt your self.

    When resting put the compression tights on to bed and wear compression socks during the day if things are really bad.

    • Hi Ashul! Thanks for your ideas, they are really helpful. I like the idea of having a three-run goal per week, and varying the type of run each time. I’m also going to try recovery runs on grass.

      I need to invest in some compression tights I think – they seem to be highly recommended!

      • rest rest rest – is the secret of the Kenyans – but the answer to your initial question – No you are not injured you are just sore from over doing it. We all do it, running, drinking, dancing, etc. Once your body gets accustomed to activity you will feel a lot less wobbly but you just need to persever and if thigns are really really bad pop a voltaren rapide 25 or two (I used to in the early days no more now)

  3. Hey Ashul – thanks so much for your comments! I bet Ellie is sick of hearing me pipe in about how I feel! Have you had a long history with running? I still consider myself a newbie – only been running a few years and lots to learn. But have a whole lifetime I suppose!

    • It feels like there’s stacks to learn, doesn’t it? And there’s always something new to try: marathon, trail, 5ks…. will keep us pretty busy!

      Your insights are so helpful – cos you’ve done the distance a couple of times, you have figured out what works and what doesn’t for you, so I can steal all your great ideas 😉

      • I think the main lessons to be learnt are enjoy it, make it fun and slowly you can instill the discipline to get faster/stronger. For me it was the joy of taking amaze instagram pics of sunrises (no shortage in perth) so I did that whilst running – sadly I don’t anymore but it made it fun to get out for an early morning run..

        Another thing i used to do was I could only drink wine if I had done a run on that day no matter how long…

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