Four weeks from first marathon and tired from overtraining?

Hi. I'm currently nearing the end of my training for my first marathon (Abingdon on 21 October). I've been following the Higdon Novice 2 Marathon Training Plan.

A couple of weeks ago I did the 18-miler. I planned some walking breaks in there and, despite a bit of a struggle for the last mile, it went OK. When trying to do a short recovery run the following Tuesday, I was struggling to keep my eyes open so I cut it short. I was the same the next Thursday so I didn't run at all. That weekend I came down with a heavy cold.

The cold has gone now but I can't shake off this feeling of overwhelming tiredness. I did a 5-6mi run/walk last Sunday and that was OK (mostly walking though). On Tuesday, I did a steady 5mi run and felt OK after it. Last night though (Thursday) I was back to being completely wiped out. I was going to try and go anyway, but advice from fellow runners on Twitter said I should just rest.

I'm getting a bit panicky now that I'm not going to be ready for the marathon. Training hadn't been going entirely brilliantly before this started, which is why I added in the walk breaks for the 18-miler. With only four weeks to go, I don't know if I should rest completely and hope/trust that what I've done so far will get me round or if I should keep running and try to get some more long runs in before the day.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.


  • 4 weeks from a marathon is the heaviest part of any marathon training programme so weariness and heavy legs are to be expected.

    However, what you're description of 'overwhelming tiredness' POST cold/flu doesn't sound good and I'd go get it checked out by a GP if i were you, at least for your own peace of mind and to get an MOT that running Abo is a good idea.

  • Rest! Sounds like you're not really over the viral infection. Obviously this isn't a great time to have to rest, when you should be putting in your 19 and 20 mile runs, but if the combination of training and illness has you that wiped out, then rest is needed. If you rest now, you might manage e.g. a 15-mile run two weeks out before tapering further.

    You may have to accept a walk/run strategy for the actual marathon, to make sure you get round.

    For another time, I suggest starting any training programme a couple of weeks early, so that if you do have to take time out due to illness or to let a "niggle" settle down, you're not getting behind in your training (I know, too late for this time).

  • I have a doctor's appointment next week for something else so I'll ask him about it then. He's a runner too, so I expect he'll understand where I'm coming from and be honest with me.

    I shall rest as best as I can. I was planning on trying for 12mi on Sunday but think otherwise now. Maybe just do some walking to try and keep semi-fit. I'd already decided on a walk-run strategy for the marathon itself and, as you say Debra, if I take it easy now I may be able to manage another longish run before then. I think I need something to boost my confidence.

    And point well made and duly taken about some wiggle room in the next training session. Lesson learned.

    Thank you both for your replies.

  • You're welcome, and good luck.

    Re. the "wiggle room", lots of beginner training schedules only have two or three really long runs, and I've seen so many threads on here which say "I'm ill/injured and I'm going to miss my key long run(s)", so it would seem logical to allow for a week or two off running in any training plan - and if you don't need to take the time out then, bonus, you're done more training and are better prepared! I'm actually surprised not to see it suggested on the pages offering the training plans.

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