How Obsessed am I?

I am 42 and I started running about a year ago from a background of moderate fitness form hiking. At least I thought I was moderately fit until I tried to run!!
I followed a run/walk plan and was over the moon when I could run without any walking.

My original goals were to do a under 2 hour half marathon then progress to just get round a full marathon.
Since starting I have had numerous training plans and am currently working towards a GNR plan, But my goals have now changed.
I have managed a 1:35 Half marathon, 42 min 10k and 19 min 5k so better than I had first hoped-I am working towards a 1:32 plan for the GNR and then planning on looking for a sub 3:30 plan for the London Marathon.

I am running 6 times a week around 50 miles per week, as I progress and my goals get more ambitious I am getting more and more obsessed with running, I even have a new goal now of a good for age time for the London marathon (around 3:15 I think).
I do have a OCD personality ( so I am told!) but my questions are,

is it normal to;
Beat yourself up if you miss a training session? Run 6 times a week? Constantly keep revaluating your goals? Never just think yes I have done that now let’s relax and enjoy running?
For example I am going camping for a couple of nights this weekend my overriding thought is- I  am going to miss a training run, how will that effect me- when it should be looking forward to the weekend away with my wife.

I am worried I am against the clock as far as my age goes and if I don’t push myself now as I get older I will find it more and more difficult to achieve my goals/pb’s . But I am also aware that as training becomes more and more difficult my love for running is reducing- I absolutely love a 10 mile or so run at steady pace (7:50 min mile) in the country but after wonder if I should have run harder- But then on the other hand I ran 8 miles @ 6.50 pace last night didn’t “enjoy” the run but was pleased after that I had done it.

Why does it matter so much to me if I run 1:30 or 1:45 for a HM or 3:15 or 3:55 for a marathon? My none running family/friends just think good on you for running that distance-why can’t I think like that- it is not as if my times are ever going to put me in with a chance of even an age group win!
Sorry about this rambling long post-I guess I am looking for people out there to say yes I felt like that and I do this........................................


  • You're certainly analysing things a fair bit! But you have got your times down to a more than competent level, but honestly I think that for 50 miles a week you should be running slightly faster race times. I'm concerned that you might be working too hard, not in terms of mileage but in terms of effort over the week and slowing your progress.

    42 isn't too old to perform very well at running at all. I have a friend who took it up in his mid 40s and peaked 3-4 years ago running sub 36min 10Ks and 2:50 marathons. Even now at around 52 he can rattle off 37:30 10Ks and sub 3:00 marathons. Our best local 42 year old runner can run sub 34min 10Ks. You have loads of time left.

    Running 6 days a week is fine, I certainly do. But don't feel bad if you have a 5 day week or even a 4 day week now and won't simply pile on the pounds or lose any performance on those weeks. It'd probably take a couple of weeks without training and eating poorly for you to start affecting your fitness or running times.

    As for training hard, don't beat yourself up about the pace you run your longer runs. I'm guessing that you don't have any real structure to your training plans because it is important to run certain runs at 'easy' or 'recovery' pace. The Mcmillan online calculator will tell you what your 'easy' and 'recovery' paces are based on your 10k time. My current 10K is around 37 mins and I do my easy runs at around 7:20-7:30 pace. My recovery runs are slower (7:50-8:00). This is excellent aerobic training, faster and you neglect aerobic benefits that are there to be reaped at the slower paces.

    Also remember, you are unlikely to improve for too long if you are doing more than two hard sessions a week. Your hard sessions will require either 'recovery' run days or sheer rest days. Your 8 miles at 6:50 pace would be a hard session requiring a day or two of easy/recovery running. Then perhaps do a speedwork day/hill reps/time trial, then another couple of days of easy running before your long run at the weekend. Long run pace according to Mcmillan is not much different from your easy pace. If you really fancy a long hard run I'd make sure that yesterday was an easy day and that tomorrow and the day after will be too.

    Best of luck

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I can't answer about the obsessed nature of it. I'd like to give you a word of caution though - asking if you're obsessed to a bunch of similarly minded people you might have a few biased answers!

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I can identify with the stage you're at right now.  IMO when you're not only improving quickly at something but also learning along the way, you will tend to sweat the details a little bit, but I don't think that's a bad thing.  Is it a little OCD to be beating yourself up about a missed session?  Well maybe, but it's not such a bad mind-set to be in (compared to "ah fcuk it anyway, can't be bothered"), as long as you're keeping things in perspective, i.e. w.r.t. family commitments and social life.

    Once you get more experienced and the whole training regime just becomes a facet of everyday life I think you get better at judging perspective, and can become more chilled about the finer details, whilst still appreciating that consistency is important in the long term. 

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Running eye, the general rule of running is that anyone who runs less than you is lazy/not training enough, and anyone who trains more than you is obsessed


    Therefore, i rate you as lazy image

  • Thanks Jamie and Phil yes I guess so Emmy.

    Lazy eh Stevie yes needed that!!

    Just got back in from a 13 miler first time I have done 2 13+ runs in less than a week. Legs aching more than I would expect but at least I feel better now about missing a run this weekend
  • What 's happening to you is perfectly normal, especially as you've only been running for 2 years, enjoy it while it lasts. And you're times are excellent. Ignore the retarded comments from Jamie Newton 2 about how you should be ruuning faster off 50 mpw, we're all different, that's why he can only run a 10k in 37 minutes not 25 minutes and be in the Olympic final image

  • 'Retarded Comment'!! Thanks for nothing Lardase.....

    I offered advice that might really help. His post indicates that he is a really hard worker and I suspect that he might be slowing his progress by doing more than two hard sessions a week. If he's obsessing whether to do a 8 mile 6:50 run rather than a 10 mile 7:50 run, its clear that there is little structure to his training plan. Especially if he is beating himself up for not working harder whenever he does the 7:50 runs. 7:50 is a perfect long run pace for him based on his current competence. A training session to be happy with!!! These are not my opinions, they are very much supported by McMillan.

    I complimented his progress so far in my very first paragraph and I really think that with his current mileage and his natural work ethic he'd get well inside a 40 minute 10K (and beyond) if his training was more structured towards a couple of hard sessions a week and more easy/long/recovery runs.

    My post was positive and constuctive. Yours was immature!

    I am a little worried about Running Eye being his own worst enemy. He may well be on a pathway to burnout or injury. He has a camping holiday planned this weekend and has just got back from a 13 mile training run which has left him with 'legs aching more than I would expect'....his second of the week, and its only Friday!!! A weekly training 'long run' is not meant to leave you feeling like that. My guess is that the pace was rather faster than an online calculator such as McMillan would recommend for him.

    You can expect a bit of soreness after lactate sessions, speedwork sessions, Hill reps and time trials. But these should only be done twice a week with a couple of easy days separating them.

    He says in his first post 'I am also aware that as training becomes more and more difficult my love for running is reducing'.

    Training doesn't need to become 'harder'. Sure, your weekly mileage increases, the numbers of speed reps increase, time trials get faster. But this happens as your fitness improves. I'm not working 'harder' than I was last year, not in perception anyway.....yet times do improve and they will for Running Eye with a decent weekly plan to go in hand with his excellent focus.

    I really wish Running Eye the very best and would be delighted to see him rewarded well with his work ethic.



  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Jamie,i  think you're trying to steal my crown for long winded posts image

  • I've just noticed too that the 13 miles Running Eye has done today (and has left him with aching legs) follows yesterday's 8 miles at 6:50 pace that he found hard!

    Follow a hard day with at least one - two easy days!! You are stunting your own progress. You'd have done your body and your progress much better if you had run a nice easy 6 miles at recovery pace tonight, came home feeling energetic and ready to give your wife a nice weekend.

    The 13 mile run would have been much better saved for Monday, with your tanks more full.

    Please Running Eye, look up some online weekly training plans or buy this book, its by the editor of Running World. It has excellent training plans for every distance. You'll notice that in any plan there are no hard sessions two days running:

     I'm really rooting for you, but you're not doing yourself any favours.

    I dread seeing a post in the health & injury section asking for help with achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

    Best of luck

  • Hi Stevie G,

    I'm new to the site and still a little keen.

    I hope the advice I've given can be of help. I get a buzz out of seeing people improve.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    blimey, only 10 posts..i thought i'd seen more from you.

    But welcome...i try and help out where i can as well...normaly newbies, although in 90% of cases run more, and run slower is the advice...

  • No, you haven't seen more from me. God only knows who the other Jamie Newton is......he isn't me!!!!

    I was surprised when I registered and saw a '2' after my name. I'd like to chat to another runner famous for long winded posts who shares my name........Ha ha.

    As for advice, I've had to be told off before, for running too many hard sessions a week, not enough base mileage, too few easy runs etc. Its life, but true. 

  • Your start to running sounds pretty much like mine only I was about ten years older! Started running at 49 as an overweight middle aged man with some health problems. And this year (56 years old) did my second sub 3 hour marathon at London. You are in fact quite young so you have plenty of time. I never beat myself up over missing a training session whilst training for a marathon because I never ........ever miss a session or even a yard of that session. M y base mileage is 40 miles a week and I get up into the 60 for marathons. I also do the full 26.2 as a training run one Sunday before the race and actually then have a done a track session on the Monday. I have got faster year on year (with the exception of one injury year) and haven't "burnt out yet". I obsess about both distance and time on my training runs. I dont feel I can do more than the 60+ miles per week I peak at so I try and increase my overall pace for the week. So if I am doing 60 miles in the week I like to try and get the average pace faster each year. This year it was around 07:15 min/mile pace for the week - panicked if it looked like falling below 07:30 If you want obsessive look no further!!!

  • Running Eye. Similarly I am 42, and have been running since January (not literally), having had a running 'break' of 27 years.

    Targets / pace have constantly been reevaluated over the months. First of all I didn't know what I was capable of, then I got an idea of what I can do, and along side this, some rapid improvements came through consistent training. So for example, a HM target changed from 1:50 to 1:40 to 1:35 to 1:25. Likewise a marathon target of 4hr became 3 hrs. I don't see anything abnormal in challenging yourself with realistic targets. That part is certainly not OCD.

    Why can't you just settle for running say 2hr HM? For me its just human nature to want to improve yourself. Would you not do this in other aspects of your life?

    Secondly, at 42, I believe you should see improvements for the next 4 or 5 years before age begins to bite back (Provided you train appropriately). Plenty of time, and befre you know it you'll join the MV50's!

    So your worried about missing a session. Sounds like you are well motivated. Do you have trouble fitting everything into a day sometimes, and find yourself doing a long run at 5am to fit it in. Happens to me and I think I'm normal. But its important to get some perspective, missing the odd run really won't hurt.

    Do I wonder and worry if I should run hard, e.g 8 miles @ 6:50, or 10 miles @ 7:50? No - I simply look at my plan to see what session I have and execute it. I have a plan which I believe in which structures my week. Also to add that the majority of running is easy pace or recovery pace(enjoy the run type affair), with some Tempo /intervals (not so nice type runs with a bigger sense of achievement)!

    Does running 6 times per week and 50 miles sound obsessive? Not to my knowledge. However I do think you can achieve one of two things

    1. Achieve the results you get know for less mileage and run sessions, or

    2. Run a lot faster based on your current mileage.

    How? Get a decent plan, understand the purpose of each type of session, ensure you understand the goal of the session before you go out the door.

    Some proper structure will remove plenty of worry / anxiety (nothing you wrote seems OCD at all), and consistent training should lead to improved time. Its not going to remove all anxiety, I know in the weeks coming up to my first marathon it dominated my thinking. Part of the challenge is working to overcome this.
  • Jamie Newton 2 - I think you are incorrect in your statement. "but honestly I think that for 50 miles a week you should be running slightly faster race times."

    As Lardarse says in his not to subtle way. I think you've lost perspective here a little. I don't think the above statement was in the slightest bit positive. 'retarded comment' may be a bit extreme, uninformed, unwise,  ill-advised, wrong,

    For some one who has only been running a year and built up from scratch, these times are excellent. Took me 2 - 3 years to get times like those.

    Don't forget that racing is a discipline in itself that needs to be learnt. We also don't know how old these pb's are and how long the OP has been running 50 m/wk.

    running eye - a lot of progress is made in the first 2 years of running, you will still be making good progress after about 5 years. Yes then we start fighting our age, I was hoping to set some pb's that I would be happy with this year but illness at the beginning of the year has put paid to that. I still haven't regained my former fitness levels so I understand the pressure you feel to fit it all in while you can. If you are really worried and it is that important to you then consistency is key, as is following a training plan. That's not a luxury I have any more and I have discovered how hard it is to feel race fit, ie it's not happening.

    So choose your race, choose your training, work out the paces you need to be running at, ensure you have adequate rest and recovery days. You have potential. You are normal, it's called ambition.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    T Mouse, I don't think Jamie meant any offence with his comment.

    It's just that 50miles a week is a big amount of training, and I haven't ever seen a male of decent age, 18-45 put such mileage in and not be a minimum of sub 1hr 30 for a half marathon.

    I think the reasons why are obvious, as the OP has only run for 1 year. That's a very quick ramp up in mileage. Also, the 50miles probably aren't being run at their optimum paces, and he probably runs too hard too often.

    Like you say though T Mouse, we don't know how long out of that year he's actually been running the 50miles a week. Clearly can't have been more than about 9months at most...probably only around 3-4months.

    Therefore, he's not getting the full 50miles a week benefit.A year on that scale, and he'll easily break 1hr 30 for a half.

    It's probably no kind of comparison comparing your times to the OP T Mouse, as i presume you're female, and you also don't indicate what training you did for 2-3years....


  • as you know that you have an obsessive nature then you can use that knowledge to keep yourself in check.............

    if you carry on working hard on most of your runs as well as ramping up the long runs for the might be on the road to an injury.......

    Hope not and that you can get the balance rightimage

  • Hi T mouse,

    I'll explain why I feel that in Running Eye's case, running 50 mile weeks should yield faster race times.

    It is simply because he rattles off 8 mile training runs at 6:50 pace!! That is 42:46 min 10K pace, barely slower than his personal best at a longer mileage and in training!

    6:50 pace is also sub 90 min half marathon pace. He has effectively done an 8 mile race pace time trial in training.......yet his best race is 95 mins odd.

    Here is a guy with some serious competence who isn't fulfilling his potential on race day. He is either burning himself out on the build up or having severe pacing issues on race day.

    I've pointed him very much in the right direction.

    My reply was not meant to offend other 50 mile per week runners who are not running times as good as Running Eye. Some people rattle off much slower paces per mile every week and wont have his level of competence. If you rattle off 50 miles a week with a 9-10 min per mile average, you probably wont get a 42 min 10K or a 95 min half. But this guy's training times clearly demonstrate that his potential is not being realised.

  • 'investing' 50 miles per week of time and effort into running needs some kind of payoff, whether it be pure enjoyment of the run, or pursuit of time goal achievements.

    The OP's post suggests that time goals are important to him, so other than tell him he's 'normal', trying to redirect his training to something a bit more smarter should be seen as positive. I would certainly see it that way.

    As I mentioned, I am also a new runner and put in 50+ miles pw. I wouldn't be running that distance without having some ideas on how to run those miles, and importantly how to recover.

    Wondering if you should have run a little harder really points to someone who makes up their run sessions as they go.

    Take on board the comments of others, get some structure, / plans in place, reduce the anxiety about what you should do, and start enjoying things again.

    Hi Running eye,

    Slacking a bit there arn't you?  Same age as you,  similar time running - started in April 11 -  and I have already have a GFA place for the 2013 London marathon.

    If you want to get faster you are going to need to join a club that has some structured speed sessions.  You should be doing interval sessions of some sort at least once a week plus at least one tempo run of around 6-8 miles.  Not on subsequent days of course, nor next to your long run day.  It is not just the total milage you do it is the quality of that milage,  If you want to race fast then you will have to to train fast.  The McMillan pace calculater will give you an idea of how hard to run your training sessions.  For me it gave c6 m/m interval pace; 6.20 or less tempo, c6.40 steady and anything between 7 and 8 for my long runs. Based on a 1.24 HM PB.


  • Have to disagree that you have to join a running club, nor that you need to do an interval session plus tempo in the same week. For such a young running age that is quite heavy week in week out. Train fast to race fast is not typical advice that I have received on the forum. Train specific to the distance you are racing is though.

    I tried my local club. Club intervals were aimed towards VO2 max improvement. For my aims (marathon sub GFA) that was not appropriate. I eventually settled on P&D Advanced Marathoning schedules. Typically 1 long run, 1 tempo, and then a number of easy paced miles are involved. Personally, if I did one tempo, and one interval every week, I think the wheels would have come off by now.
  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭
    Surrey Runner wrote (see)

      For me it gave c6 m/m interval pace; 6.20 or less tempo, c6.40 steady and anything between 7 and 8 for my long runs. Based on a 1.24 HM PB.

    A decent guide, but the easy paces come out a little sharp at the faster end... 7mins per mile for example, is not easy pace by any means for a 1:24 half man.

  • thanks everyone some really helpfull feedback.

    I have only got upto 50 miles a week for the last 6 weeks but intend to keep around that until end of the year then i guess i will increase toward the VLM.

    Just back from camping to late to run tonight so will be a morning run tomorrow for me, think I will take the majority advice and run most of my miles around 8 mm pace including my long run,with 1 - 2 speed sessions in per week.

    My pb are all from time trial training runs-only ever done 2 timed offical events HM in may 1:40 and park run April 20:50. Most people tell me that what I can run in a training time trial would be better in a race-that remains to be seen!

    I will work on the above for the GNR in about 5 weeks and then will need advice / training plan for working upto the VLM. 

    My only worry about obsessing is getting injured

  • Race days are funny things, when my pacing is right I can usually expect to knock off between 30 secs to 1 min in a 10K over a practice time trial. Most people do. It will have something to do with the small taper to race day, the crowd, that competitive spirit that tells you to catch the person in front and the fact that the timing is official.

    If you can find a local 10K on the flat I think you'd have a good bash at sub 40 mins, for as long at you ensured that each half mile was around 3:10-3:12.....and allowing for a chilled out few days before race day.


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