how undertrained is undertrained?

Right, I've been on the injury forums for some time. Still there.  It's make or break time for thie marathon.

Bascially: I am a 33 year old lady.  I've been running on and off for about 5 years. Did my first 2 half marathons in Oct and November 2011 (2 hours 21 and 2 hours 14).  I then pulled back on the training - but still running three times a week, until mid December where I started to up it again. Was running 4 times a week and up to 13 miles again at beginning of Jan when I got my first set of shin splints. 

Out for two weeks. One week no exercise at all - second week trained three times and started running again.

Did a 10 mile run - and shin splints again.  That was 3 weeks ago.  In those 3 weeks I've been training 3 - 4 time a week doing deep water running and XT.

I ran on the treadmill for the first time on tuesday - was ok.  I'm going my long run this sunday - 1 hour running, 1 hour on the bike. Physio agrees.

I've been doing strength training as hoping to build up body strength for lack of land running. I've been doing threshold training in the pool to build up stamina.

If my leg can't take the 1 running on sunday and the building up of running - then I am out and can't do the marathon.

But I think my longest run will have to be about 16 - 18 miles as not sure how I can build up to much more in 5 weeks.

I am the fittest I have ever been.  It's just this stupid leg.

Have people done the marathon with less training?  Am I insane and should I just call it quits now?


  • (I've also failed to add that I currently have swelling just by my knee that I am actively hoping will just disappear just like that....becuase I'm that lucky!)
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭
    Quit. I've done it loads of times. Trained for 20 marathons run 7.
  • Yeah, slowly getting my head around the quitting thing......

  • I'd give it a go, and if you fail on Sunday, call it quits. Is this for London or one earlier?

    Oh, other thought compression socks might help during & post run maybe.
  • I went through a similar situation, couldn't train much my first marathon, 8 mile training runs was as much as I could manage and didn't train/exercise 3 weeks leading up to the race and half marathon distance was the furthest I had managed. I still wanted to do it, so that I can look back and say I gave it shot, hoping that maybe the race day atmosphere will get me through. This was the Loch Ness Marathon so I even drove 500 miles to get there!

    Needless to say I struggled, I did just over 10 miles at race speed but then walked/jogged the rest of the way, took me over 5 hours in the end! I was quite naive thinking I could turn up and just suddenly do well without having trained properly, but I don't regret it.

    Unlike me it seems like you really put in the work to train for this race so I think you shouldn't give up now if your legs feel ok, see how you feel in another 2 weeks I reckon.

    Good Luck!
  • RicF wrote (see)
    Quit. I've done it loads of times. Trained for 20 marathons run 7.


    What sort of advice is that? The moral of your story is the more you quit the easier it is to quit... I've trained for 14 marathons and will be "completing" my 14 in May, even if I end up walking.

    I did the Athens Marathon in 2007, yet a week before the race I couldn't even cover 5 miles without getting dreadful pains in my legs thorugh cramp. So on race day I really thought there was no way i'd make the distance, thought i'd have to walk 20 odd miles. I ran the whole way, only I had cramp in both calves from about 3 miles out to the finish, finished around 30 minutes longer than expected, but I didn't care, the feeling of achievement of running under those circumstances made it one of my best runs.

  • I'd not quit just yet. See how the long run goes but you'll be looking at a long day out - 5 hours plus. Prepare yourself for that.
  • fit running cat - thanks.  It is London.  I still want a 3 week taper, so I have 5 weeks to build up.  Should I still do the three week taper - or make it 2 so that I have an extra week to build up?  THink I shouldn't.... Which compression socks do you recommend - I bought 1000 mile socks and they did not help at all.

    CMW - thanks!  Will give it another little go tomorrow and see how it goes.  Good to hear that other people have tried it and managed it!

    lardarse - good to hear another person managing it (really well it seems!) in those circumstances.

    cougie - I'm prepared for a long day out.  To be honest, making the start line will be an achievement - so finishing it will be a dream come true - what ever the time!

    This is encouraging, it has to be said.  THat and drinking alochol for the first time in months last night.  Needed to drown my sorrows.  The bacon sandwich this morning sure has perked me up too.  Forgetting nutrition and the M word for a few hours has been a HUGE relief!

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    @Kaffeeg - Don't give up. You've got a lot more miles in your legs than other runners on the start line and as cougie says- as long as you plan for a long day out - you'll do great.

    My biggest piece of advice is slowly but surely. The one thing that this marathon training has taught me is respect and more importantly - listening to my body. Push yourself but realise when your body is saying "give me a break".

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭
    So run this one past me again. General opinion seems to be that trying to run a marathon while chronically injured is.....what?
  • emmybug - thanks.  Yeah, thinking of going real slow if I make the start line and run/walk the whole way.

    RicF - this is why I asked!! I'm hoping the injury is healing up and that I won't be at the start line with an injury. I'm hoping i will be there injury free but undertrained. But preparing to pull out if needed. 

    Just wanted to hear of other people who may have been in similar situations and how they dealt with it.

  • I don't think you are that undertrained to be honest. Shin splints are a funny injury - I used to find they could hamper me for weeks then suddenly clear up - so I definitely wouldn't give up yet.

    I'd just do some shortish runs - up to an hour for a couple of weeks - have a recovery day in between all runs and see how you get on. So long as you can get a 15 miler or something in before the day I think you'll be OK - I did my first mara having never run longer than 2 hours (which I did twice on the two weekends before the mara) and that first 2 hours almost killed me - yet the marathon went well.

    Having said all that - I do think if you are actually injured come a couple of days before then you should quit. It depends what you want from the race - for me run/walking the thing would have no appeal. I've started a marathon with a thigh strain and had to pull out at 12 miles - I probably could have carried on another 4-5 miles and walked the rest but I'd have turned the strain into a more serious muscle injury. I get no pleasure out of the "achievement" of finishing a marathon - I enjoy running them, I enjoy training for them and I get some satisfaction out of achieving a good time - I wouldn't enjoy running with an injury or achieve a fast time like that so for me why bother.
  • thanks popsider.  My training plan for my long runs for the next 6 sundays  (before I start my 3 week taper) is:

    2 hours (I've done 2 hours already a few times)

    2 hours 15

    2 hours 15

    2 hours 30

    2 hours 45

    3 hours

    But I am going to  have to do those long runs as a mixture of running and XT - just so that I can get my body used to excerising for that amount of time.  I was thinking of increasing my time spent running in those long session by 15 minutes each week - so that in the 3 hours session I would be running (non stop) for 2 hours, and then doing 1 hour on the bike.

    Is this workable?

    Obviously it all depends on how this session goes tomorrow.

    I'm just worried that increasing my running by 15 minutes for 5 weeks will increase injury.  But then, my body is used to training for 2 hours as I have done deep water running for that amount and plenty of 2 hour runs in the last few months.

    But I'm also worried that if I can't run solidly for 3 hours then I really am insane trying to attempt to do this.

  • Kafeeg Not sure why you have the "pressure" to run for 3 hours solidly - and presumeably the whole marathon?

    Time is irrelevant now, so run/ walk to actually give your legs a chance to cope is the best option. Same in training, even a bit of bike maybe.

    Your only aim is to finish - and part of that is getting through the next few weeks without injury.

    I'm not too sure about the 6 weeks of increasing long runs... doing a distance or time is not important.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭
    As I have mentioned elsewhere on the forum, K, you are in the midst of the marathon dilemma, torn between doing the training required against the recovery from. A maximum distance run will last around six weeks as a training factor. I operate on the principle of doing them on consecutive weeks then leaving the gap. Cycling is key in your case. I've done this myself, one difference is that I conduct the entire bike ride out of the saddle, so 2 hours plus standing up.
    As I have revealed, I have set out to run/race marathons on more occasions than I'd like only to have to give up before the start.
    I've got away with marathons before so here's some evidence from 2003.
    Last 15 weeks mileages before London, long run in brackets.
    15(6) 14(6) 16(5) 17(7) 34(8) 36(8) 32(7) 43(16) 32(half/M 80mins) 34(19) 21(7) 20(16) 18(6) 18(12, 21x3min intervals) London Mara 2:55
    So for me, under trained maybe, injured never. Its only a race.
  • thanks  fitrunningcat.......what do you suggest?  I've never run further than 13 miles.......i don't think I can run the entire marathon but think that I will have more confidence if I can run for 3 hours.....but also don't want to get injured again in the process. 

    Haven't a clue about what to do!

  • better experts than me... image

    hoping cougie pops up!

    have a look at the run/ walk plans, running 4-6 mins, walk 30-40 secs, and splitting up each mile, or some variation of that perhaps.

    Some Walk run info here

    I'd stop regularly for stretches too and middway for even longer, 10-15.. you're still on your feet.

  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭

    Well, all your advice has been greatfully received.

    I'm making the start line!

    Injury free I'm very happy to add.  Undertrained, but injury free.

    PMA all the way now.

    My longest run has been 3 hours 15 (which, was something between 17 - 19 miles depending on how many times i did a certain loop which I can't remember as I was struggling at that point and didn't make a mental note).  

    I've been running for 9 minutes, walking for 1 (to drink water, blow my nose, and re-fuel) so will use that strategy for Sunday.

    I'm aiming for being out for over 5 hours (was originally looking for 4.3, now going for 5 hours 15. 

    Not that you might be interested - but I am and I'll post how i did!

  • Good luck for Sunday Kaffeeg. IFor me, it's always good to hear how people get on.
  • Great stuff Kaffeeg, do post. Love to know how it goes.

    Good luck
  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭

    Thanks guys!!

    Feeling excited about it all and remarkably calm.  Will def post how it goes! image

  • Good luck for Sunday kaffeeg, I know what a bastard shin splints can be so sympathise with you! Just take it easy and do what you can - given the problems you've had, getting to the finish will be a massive achievement - and let us know how you get on!
  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭

    well. image it was never going to break world record: 5 hours 48 minutes and 18 seconds.

    A rather embarrassing bottom massage at mile 8 due to my glute freezing up (that has never happened before). enjoyed it up to that point. prob felt fine up until mile 17. then dark days until mile 20, which happened upon me just like that. Then the slowest 10k in the world.

    but - done!

    there will not be a next time - but if there is: better training!!

  • Great stuff,

    If you say that today... Tomorrow you will be doing another one image
  • Well done ..more of a race report would be good as this is your first Marathon image...
  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭

    tee hee. I'm already eyeing up Chester in the Autumn!!!!

    Full race report:

    plan was to follow run 5/walk 1 pacer for a while. Never found them, so ran 4/walked 1 for the first hour.  Then moved to run 9/walk 1 for the next bit. Had a crumble at mile 8 (the bottom saga), carried on through that - found the walking breaks hard as it hurt more to start running again, so cut out the walking breaks for a bit.  All gone to put mile 17 and it turned slowly into: run 8/walk 2; run 4/walk 2, run 1/walk 2; walk/walk; walk; run; walk; move forward; don't close eyes; move forward; run; run; run; run; smile; whoop; go into hysterical giggles and finish.

    Last three miles took me 46 minutes to complete!!

  • Well done Kaffeeg - we probably learn more about ourselves by enduring through adversity than in many other situations in life. When you know how much grit you've got, you become much less daunted by difficulties. So again, congrats to you.

    But if you take a step back from the whole event and training programme, what do you think you've learnt from it? How might you have avoided that injury and made a more steady, progressive improvement in fitness?

    I think you demonstrated that you did not fit into the earlier assumption that you were suffering from a 'chronic injury'. My definition of chronic would mean the impossibility of running. You may now have some physical recuperation needed but I would imagine you are much stronger psychologically....


  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭
    thanks trickydicky. gosh - i've learnt a LOT on this journey.

    got my injury by over training and not listening to my body. all classic runners mistakes.

    i've learnt that i will never do a marathon as under prepared again.

    i've learnt that i can do things i thought were beyond me.

    but, i feel i have so much more to learn.

    i would like to do another marathon. maybe 2013. maybe 2014.
    i want to spend the rest of the year doing half maratons, maybe a 20 miler towards the end of the year. i think more build up in enduarance before i embark on a maraton again.

    next time, i want to enjoy more than the first 8 miles, and get more of a sense of acheivement from the whole experience.

    but thanks everyone, hearing more experienced peoples constructive advice is always welcome and extremely helpful.
  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭
    p.s my injury was completely healed. not a twinge at all during the race and nothing since. interestingly, i did so many lower leg strengthening excerises, my lower legs have been fine. not stiff, not sore.

    i didn't do upper leg strengthening as much, and that is what is stiff now.....
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