by Sarah Verbeek, answer by Marius
(Youngstown AB,Canada)

Overtraining - a muscular problem

Overtraining - a muscular problem

Overtraining is quite common to experience when preparing for a marathon. However, the reason for overtraining is usually not the mileage you run - but the way you do these miles.

Sarah sent me this question :

I have been currently been logging 60-70 miles a week. I am finding my legs feel heavy for the first 4-5 miles and then they seem to snap out of it for the other half.

Is this a sign of overtraining? Are these miles needed to run a 3:40 marathon? I am considering taking two consecutive rest days is this a good idea?

Usually I only take one day off a week following my long run, I have tried changing my time of day run and it doesn't seemed to have helped the heavy leg feeling.

Just wondering how to continue training not loosing any of the training I have already put in 8wks completed in the program I have chosen and only 8wks left until race day!

Sarah, thanks for the questions. The over training topics is very relevant in terms of marathon training.

You are logging 70-80 miles a week which is more than enough for a 4:30 marathon - in fact running only 40-50 should get you there well if you are on a nicely planned plan.

Symptoms of Overtraining

Two main things :

No "light" days weekly anymore : only tired

If you have heavy days for more than 5-6 days this is a big red light. Once every 7 days you should ALWAYS have one session where you feel fresh.

Unable to get your heart rate up when doing workouts

If you cannot get your heart rate higher even when you are trying to push the pace this is a BIG sign of muscular overtraining on the way.

This is a much, much better way to evaluate current status compared to for example morning heart rate which is highly inaccurate in terms of overtraining.

What you are experiencing with heavy first 4-5 miles in the training sessions and then better after that is similar to the "not getting you heart rate up" problem. So it is a warning sign.

How To Get Out Of Overtraining as a Runner

Sarah - this is how you can solve your problem :

First of all, use a heart rate monitor on your runs. Then run all your easy runs below 70 % of maximum heart rate and always run one easy run (with the whole workout easy, no "faster at the end") the day after each hard session.

Then - and this is big - after each of your hard workouts finish up with 7 x 20 seconds where you stay at heart rate 75-85 % of maximum. Take 20 sec recovery between each 20 sec.

What this does is to bring back elasticity to your heavy muscles. It freshens up the whole muscular system and helps you get back into normal marathon training mode again

And last - cut down the total workload about 20%. This usually helps you get "on top" again.

A good marathon training schedule should have ALL of this in it. I am working on something that I may post this spring, specific day-to-day schedules leading up to the marathon. So stay tune ;)

Good luck to you.

best wishes, Marius

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