10% increases and time off

I've had a couple of fractures this year which obviously resulted in time out and have been back running for 4 weeks with strict instructions not to go over 10% increases each week. I have been sticking to this even though at this early stage the increases hardly seem worthwhile but I've learned my lesson. My problem is this, my Physio found pinpoint tenderness over both fracture sites this week and has told me to stop running until I've had a couple of x-rays and had them looked at. Assuming I was only out for a week (I know it could be a bit longer) on what mileage do I go back when I run, the same as my last week running, a slight reduction or a 10% increase on my last week of running. Cheers.


  • I'd go for a slight reduction - just to play safe.

    I also build a rest week every three or four weeks into my program; so I'm not increasing by 10% each and every week.  Every third week I'll have an easy week.  It gives my body time to repair my niggles and rest; and I come back stronger the following week.

  • And to be honest, I don't always build up by 10% either.  I found once I got past 11 miles, things got a bit tougher, so I do increase - but when I think it's comfortable to do so.  I did a 20 miler about three weeks ago, I found that tough, so rested, then had a race (12.5 miles), and this weekend plan to do a long run of 17 miles, then the following week 20 miles, then rest.

    I try to listen to my body.

  • The last time I had a stress fracture I was told 9mins walk 1 min run x2, day off 8mins walk 2mins run and so on untill I'd built up to 20mins.  That was after already having had 3 months off and was done on a treadmill to reduce impact.  Any sign of pain I was told to stop immediately.  Increasing by 10% is a good guide but will be based on averages and is ok if your are starting from being 100% healed

    What milage did you start at?  Where were the fractures? A bit more info please.

  • To answer the question though, assuming nothing is wrong and you are only out for a week I would repeat the last week you ran.  If you are out for longer I would go back further.  Do you drink a lot of coffee?

  • First fracture was Fibula, thought to be a stress fracture which would appear to have happened after about 7.5 miles into a HM so by the time I finished was well and truly fractured. 10 weeks in a cast, further 5 weeks of no impact exercise and then started with slow 10 min runs. After 2 weeks I went over on my ankle (same side) twisted my ankle and fractured 5th metatarsal. Started back after about 10/11 weeks with slow 10 min runs on treadmill increasing by a couple of mins. Week 2 total was 10k, week 3 11k, last week 12.1k.

    Coffee, I drink a travel mug each morning which is the equivalent of about 2 mugs and then no more than 2 mugs during the day, Sat, just the travel mug and Sunday none.

  • Usually with a stress fracture it starts with mild pain in the affected area which gradually increases with further exercise.  Did this happen suddenly without warning Rich?

  • Yep, no warning whatsoever prior to the race.  I had a tight calf in the two or three weeks prior but nothing else

  • I've only had stress fractures to the tibia one at the top and one at the bottom same leg when I was 19 and 45 respectively which tells me some people are more prone than others. In the first instance I went to the doc who said it was nothing.  That night I went to karate training stuck my leg out and the tendon or muscle on the shin pulled the bone calous away from the bone. That hurt and I was on crutches for 6 weeks.

    The second time I recognised the type of pain early on and the physio and I concluded that as the pain was continuous through a run and each time was getting a little worse it was a stress fracture.  The GP didn't agree but a bone scan did.  3 months off but no crutches that time.

    The bone you've broken is quite slender with a lot of muscle round it so I suppose breaking completely with less warning is more likely than in my case.

    What's your GP's view on it?

  • GP said that it was "bad luck"  I wouldnt let it lie so he did blood tests and Vit D was very low, retested after 12 weeks and still below the minimum but going in the right direction.  Have BUPA cover through work so finally managed to get a Bone Density scan and that was a bit low, classed as Mild Osteopenia, balanced diet and plenty of exercise and re scan in 2 years.  Recovery was going well, I was virtually pain free and I was trying not to overdo it but got pain back in ankle/foot over last 2 weeks.  Had x-rays done last wek so just waiting for the results of those although dont expect that they will show anything.

  • Right!  This all makes a lot more sense.  I take it you know all about coffee and calcium uptake etc.  If not look into the foods/substances that inhibit calcium uptake it may or may not be of use.

    I think the 10% rule isn't going to apply here and what I said about your start back milage too.  I would guess that you will have to be a lot more cautious,  which is actually a good thing because your more gradual adaptation to training will also mean fewer other injuries.  It will be very frustrating.  I'd get in the pool and get the bike out but for Christ's sake don't fall off!

  • Ah, problem there !! Have a problem swimming due to torn Cartilage in both shoulders from falling off my mountain bike !!

    Just had 'unofficial' results back from x-rays this evening. Fibula fine, metatarsal not healed. It's just a shame they didn't x-ray it before discharging me from fracture clinic, would have saved 4 weeks of running on it especially as the last fracture took so long to heal. Guess I'll have to hammer the calcium for a while. Seeing the doc later in the week for the results properly so I guess we will have a plan of action at that point.
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