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Marathon Training: Week 13

When are heavy legs OK?

Duncan commented to me that his legs were heavy on Saturday’s long run, and asked me if that’s ok. He’s been very wary of pain or even discomfort, since his injury interrupted his training for the Queenstown marathon just a few weeks ago. He’s only just back on schedule now and wanted to avoid any other injuries.

Good on ya mate, you’re learning!

Awareness and noticing is the first step, (instead of ignoring).

The second step is to be able to distinguish whether the discomfort is just training effort or whether it is damage occurring.

It’s not an exact science, but as a generalization, sharp pain is bad pain (with the exception of the “stitch”) and a dull persistent ache is too.

After quizzing him some more we deduced that Duncan’s “heavy legs” were just lethargy, like tiredness. I would expect this on our hard sessions like the long, endurance Saturday run, on the Time Trial, and on the day or two after these hard sessions. These hard sessions are designed to push the body into a bit of short term overload so that they’ll rebuild stronger. If “heavy legs” are persistent for more than a week, then it’s time to ease up on the training load until they freshen up. Continuing without some recovery days will just lead to burn out and probably injury.

Unexpected “heavy legs” can sometimes be a warning that a “flu” or cold is lurking, and you’ll generally have other indicators such as a tickly throat or grumpiness. The solution is to just do a very easy session such as a walk, and get yourself some TLC and an early night.

Maintain your motivation and discipline

Duncan also noted that he slowed down near the end of the long sessions, struggling to stay focused.

As his coach, I quizzed him some more and pretty soon recognized it as simple laziness, or put another way a lack of discipline!

I had similar problems in my early training days and sought the guidance of my wise mentor, Grahame Felton, who told me:

“(Steve) you don’t have to do those hard sessions, you could do an easier session, or just go watch TV if you like? But, you could CHOOSE to do those hard sessions, because they need to be done to achieve your goal”

So if your drive disappears on those hard sessions, look at the bigger perspective, recall and richly visualize why you’re doing this training, and exactly how achieving your marathon goal will enrich your life.

Last base week before our speed and power phase

This week is our last “base” week before starting next week into our speed and power period or phase of the schedule. As an introduction, I’ve replaced all walking in Thursday’s session, upgrading to running accelerations for the entire session.

Saturday’s endurance run is lengthened further to teach endurance.

Remember to stretch Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Gluteals, Hip-flexors whilst you’re warm, straight after each session.


Week thirteen training schedule:

Join us for strength and conditioning on Wednesday nights, 5:30pm. Meet at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton.

Thursday 11th Sept

45 mins total, comprised of accelerations

10 minutes walk to warm up, on the way to a jogging site of grass in a park or similar.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with an easy jog, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until you’re at your race or Time Trial pace the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 6 accelerations

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.

Friday 12th Sept

Rest day (optional swim or bike or yoga or gym)

Saturday 13th Sept

2 hrs and 30 mins; long, easy endurance run /jog.

Start at 8 am.

Eat breakfast 2 hours prior.

Pace yourself to jog or run the entire time, (no walking) to show yourself the discipline for race day.

Soft trails such as dirt, gravel, grass etc to avoid injury.

Stretch straight after, and ideally get a massage to aid recovery.

Sunday 14th Sept

Easy walk or hike, eg with friends or family. 60 to 90 mins. Make it scenic and fun.

Important to make it easy, to help recovery from yesterday’s long session.

Alternatively, an easy bike ride or swim.

Monday 15th Sept

Rest day (optional swim or bike or yoga or gym)

Tuesday 16th Sept

Warm-up 10 mins brisk walk or easy jog.

Time Trial #10. Aim to beat last week’s time. Do this in the morning if possible.

Warm-down 10 mins walking. Record your time.

Wednesday 17th Sept

Steve’s strength and conditioning clinic:

5:30pm sharp! Til 6:30 pm Meet 5:25pm at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton, Queenstown.

Alternative: 60 mins, medium pace jogging (fartlek = Speed play) with 4 x 5 mins effort (fast run) in the middle. Undulating small hills.

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