Over-Trained, Got Injured, Now A Bit Lost...

Hi All

Wasn’t sure if this should go in the beginner or the training section, so if it needs moving please do so.

I’m after some advice (isn’t everyone who comes to a forum!)…

To give you a brief potted history, I’m 49 and 18 months or so ago was 5 stone heavier than I am now. Having done nothing in the way of physical exercise for almost 20 years, I started doing a 1 hour off-road walk 3 times a week. Pretty soon the weight was dropping off and the walking started to turn to a light jog, which then started to turn into running (at least some sections), and I thought I was doing pretty well as the distances increased and the times started coming down. I was even starting to consider myself a runner! Nothing earth shattering, but at a point a couple of months ago I’d progressed from 17.5 stone and getting out of breath running upstairs, to 12.5 stone with a time of 22:15 for our local Park Run, 2 hours for a 20k off road with 600m climbing, and 50:03 for a flat 10k on the road.

Then it happened… I got injured!

In hindsight now, it’s obvious. I was over-training and all the signals were there. I didn’t do any slow (as in low heart rate) runs and I’d run hard for 3 days on the trot, had experienced some cramping in my left leg, and the day before had recorded the 10k time above. From what I can tell having done copious amounts of reading, my base aerobic fitness is shocking and all my running was taking place in either this grey zone, or anaerobically.

So, eight weeks on I am feeling a lot better though not 100%, am having regular sports massage, have purchased a Wahoo HRM and started running again. Like others on here I’m struggling to keep my heart rate down. On the flat or downhill it’s quite easy, but the minute I start to climb anything higher than a curb my heart rate rockets. However, I’m now back to running approx 7.5k 3 or 4 times a week and have put in a slow 20k the last 2 weekends.

I’m really just after some sort of advice on how much training (either distance or hours) and what sort of training I should be doing.

I really enjoy my 2 hour weekend run and whilst I’m yet to even attempt a competitive half marathon, the ultimate goal has to be a trail marathon... Or day I say, an ultra. Like I say, at the moment I am running approx 4 times a week and all fairly slowly so as not to get injured again. 3 or 4 x 7.5k with a long weekend run at 20k. I’ve looked at countless training plans and they all advocate increasing mileage slowly over the weeks, but they start at a mileage that seems lower than where I am now.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Should I be doing some faster runs, should I be doing more shorter runs? Fewer runs but longer? Speed work? Hill climbing? I am just lost and without the goal of quicker times or weight loss feel I could need some direction if I’m not to over-train again.

Thanks in advance for any guidance...


  • Great progress 68lbs.
    There's a lot of info there and I don't have much time now but I'll make the following observations... it's up to you to decide how applicable they are.  I don't know what your injury was.
    • You already know that you over-trained. One point I'll make is that your heart and lungs (with their massive blood supplies) do adapt quite quickly.  Your muscles (with good blood supply) also adapt quite quickly - although they have a lot of physical growing and adapting to do.  Your tendons and bones adapt much more slowly, so if you get carried away with your training and "listen to your heart and lungs" then you're at risk of tendonitis or shin splints because the take months and months to adapt to the stresses you're putting on them.
    • Agree that mileage could be a bit high, given where you've come from... but the good news is that, if you're smart, you'll make faster progress with less running (to start with).
    • I would suggest that you should not be frightened of faster running, as part of a balanced programme.  There are a million ways to devise a programme but this springs to mind...
    1. Cut down on the long run length.  20k is quite advanced running - I'd rather see you come right back down. Perhaps do 12K and 15K on alternate weeks.   If you're enjoying your countryside runs, then nothing wrong with walking for some additional distance.  I just think 20K puts too much repetitive stress on a still-developing body.  We need those tendons and bones to adapt at their own rate... even though your heart and lungs (and spirit) might be wanting more.
    2. If you like your park run, then do it. You're not an absolute beginner so a fast run can be great for body and mind. But don't turn up at five to nine and blast it.  Get there at 8.20/8.30am and run a mile slow, then play with your speed a bit for a few minutes before lining up on the start line. Then run the race at speed.  At 49, with your training background, you're obviously a pretty natural runner to have already achieved that PB.  So enjoy that.  I suggest you 'race' it only every 3 weeks with the other runs to be controlled fast training runs at maybe 1 minute slower.  Genuinely, if you beat your PB on these intermediate weeks, you should consider it a failure!  if you race it every week, your progress might seem faster at first, but it's very likely to taper off quicker than if you get variation in your running.
    3. Your third run of each week can be a very easy run in the region of 5K.  
    4. Your fourth run of the week could be similar distance.. maybe not worrying much about pace. Easy again or perhaps go a bit faster if you're feeling great. Just enjoy it and come back feeling good about yourself rather than tired.
    5. Every 4th week, omit the fourth run and reduce your long run distance to 10K.  This gives your body a break and a bit of time for adaptions to take place.
    6. Sleep well.
    This will be fewer miles... so you'll have your target of maintaining your weight to think about... and also you have the target of beating your Park Run time once every 3 weeks. So hopefully you'll remain motivated.   Don't see this as an absolute prescription. Keep some variety in your running.

    If you're sensible up until Christmas, (including listening to your body if this is not working), then you'll have built a good framework to start introducing more structured training, like intervals and hills.  Why not join a club?  Don't be afraid to take a week off. Why not enter an autumn half marathon and run it steady... then enter a spring one with a view to racing it?

    I gotta go.  Hope you can make something of this and well done. You've got an inspirational story building.
  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Edit... accidental double post.
  • Many thanks for the detailed reply. I'm sunning it on a beach at the moment but will read again when back in the uk and devise some kind of plan for moving forward. :smile:
  • Nose Nowt said:
    "There's a lot of info there and I don't have much time now but I'll make the following observations... it's up to you to decide how applicable they are.  I don't know what your injury was."

    Ok, I've had time to read your post several times and have a couple of questions. With regards to the injury, nobody seemed particularly conclusive but it appears that it was tendon related, though probably not Achilles but instead one at the side in that heel area. Sorry, probably not the best description.

    Onto my questions...

    1. If I am running a large percentage of my mileage off-road on trails that are going to only become softer over the coming months, can I increase the distances from above?

    2. How would this sound as a plan up until the end of the year? It looks like quite a lot more than you've suggested but a lot of it would be easy pace to try and build my basic cardio which I feel may be quite poor. It also makes sense for me to run on a Monday PM, Wednesday PM and Saturday Park Run as otherwise I'd be sat around doing nothing whilst my daughter swims.

    Monday PM - 1 hour easy off-road. I did this throughout last winter with a head torch come rain, wind and snow so am happy taking it on again.

    Wednesday PM - 1 hour easy off-road as Monday. Once a month I'd like to push it a bit more on this run as I have a route that allows me to extend the distance very easily.

    Friday PM - 45 mins easy road.

    Saturday AM - 5km Park Run. As you have suggested 3 weeks easier but at a decent pace and then go for it once a month. There's a new Park Run starting up in 2 weeks time near me that will be on trails, so I can alternate between concrete and trail.

    Sunday - Every other week (this could be once a month if running Fri-Mon is too much too soon) 2 hours off-road with approx 400m climbing.
  • Sounds reasonable.  Listen to your body and ease back on mileage if needed... and ease back once a month anyway. 
    I'm a firm believer that a first-year runner, especially a mature one who's been unfit, needs to avoid being seduced by developing cardio... and make sure that their training focusses mainly on the structural development of bones and tendons.  Your capacity for developing cardio is much greater (because that system adapts quicker) so make sure this doesn't lead you to do too much.   If you want to develop cardio (which is a good thing to do), then mix your sports up a bit to avoid overdoing the impact stuff... cycling and swimming are good.
    Good luck with it.
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