Marathon Training: Week 10 | Steve Gurney

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Marathon Training: Week 10

The “I-word” :  Dealing with injury

Duncan’s injured. But no problem!

My job as a coach is to get Duncan, and you readers, to not only the finish line, but also the start line, uninjured if possible.

“To finish first, first you must finish”

There are many facets to this job as coach, including carefully designing a graduated schedule, advice on warm-up and warm-down, recovery, stretching and gear choice.

However, training for a goal like this, by definition, is extending and loading our muscles a little bit every time we train hard. And it’s the same whether you’re a  seasoned athlete or newbie. Along with this loading is the risk of tweaking or injuring. This risk is exacerbated if there are other factors at play such as poor sleep, stress at work or home, poor nutrition etc. So what might have been tolerable and recoverable one week, might tip over the edge into a niggle when life is a bit more hectic.

Listen to those niggles

The trick is to be aware. Firstly aware of added stress in life and the need to button off a bit with training that week, and secondly, to notice if there is a niggle and to be prepared to ease up or stop, and then seek specialist advice. Driven athletes often turn a “blind eye” to a niggle and keep on training through a little bit of pain, until the manageable snowball turns into an out of control avalanche, thereby putting them out of the race.

Fortunately, Duncan noticed the niggling snowball before the avalanche got a chance to get started!

Seek expert assistance ASAP!

He sought the help of his local physiotherapist. I instructed him to stop running until it was healed. Duncan was initially worried, but there are many reassuring factors:

  1. We have 10 weeks of good training under his belt already and a week or 3 off training is not going to matter much at all. In fact an easy week or two might help us freshen up a bit.
  2. It’s infinitely better to start the race a tiny bit less prepared and healthy / uninjured, than to try racing injured.
  3. If we don’t get the injury solved completely, then training will be tricky from now to the race.
  4. We have plenty of weeks before the marathon to get prepared once he’s fixed. Quality is MUCH better than Quantity.

The reason for this is not so much about the pain being fixed but more about head-space. Injuries really muck with our brains when we have a really important goal like the Queenstown Marathon, and it’s almost miraculous how much relief we feel after getting a diagnosis and a rehabilitation plan. In other words, when we can see the “light at the end of the tunnel” with a plan, we are in a much better state to deal with it than if we are constantly worrying in a soup of uncertainty.

Don't fret, Cross train

In allegiance with his physio, I instructed Duncan to do cross-training such as cycling up hills on his mountain bike, aqua-jogging and swimming as substitutes for running. This was for 2 reasons:

  1. To keep him mentally sane and not worrying about loss of fitness
  2. This will prevent him losing cardio-vascular fitness.

It’s important not to do cross-training that hurts the injury at all, and once again make sure whatever exercise you plan to do is OK with the physio.

Wean back into it when given the all clear

10 days later, Duncan’s physio had him do 2 test sessions that included 5 minutes of jogging in the weekend to test the recovery. It’s all good, so we’re weaning Duncan back onto the schedule. This week he’s doing 25% of the schedule, with walking as warm up, and replace his Time Trial with a walk instead. Then next week 50%, and then the 3rd week 75% etc. Of course, if it’s sore he’ll back off and go back to the physio.

We’re figuring out what the cause was to prevent it recurring, and getting Duncan to do more stretching, with better recovery between hard sessions, such as more sleep, better nutrition,… and perhaps a weekly sports massage.

Now there’s a great idea!

Prevention is better than cure.

 

Week ten training schedule:

We’re increasing the long easy Saturday endurance run to 90 minutes.

Remember to stay off the roads and concrete, instead running on soft trails, forests, grass or beaches.

 

Day Date Exercise
Thr 21 Aug 45 mins total, comprised of accelerations, a little faster than last week:

10 minutes walk to warm up, on the way to a jogging site of grass in a park or similar.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with a fast walk pace, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until at the start of minute 3 you are jogging. Keep increasing the jog pace slowly until you are jogging at a good old clip at the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 6 accelerations

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.

Fri     22 Aug Rest day
Sat     23 Aug 90 mins long easy endurance run /jog.

Pace yourself steady, to keep jogging all the way with no walking stops if possible.

Ideally run on softer trails such as dirt, gravel, grass etc (eg bush trails or around the outside of a golf course (with permission). We want to avoid the injury threat of too much running on hard surfaces such as roads.

Sun     24 Aug Long easy walk or hike, eg with friends or family. 1 to 3 hours. Make it scenic and fun.
Mon 25 Aug Rest day (optional swim or bike or yoga or gym)
Tue    26 Aug Time Trial #7.  Aim to beat last week’s time.

Warm-up 10 mins brisk walk or easy jog

Warm-down 10 mins walking. Record your time.

Wed 27 Aug

60 mins, medium pace jogging  (fartlek .. Google it) with 4 x5 mins effort (fast run) in the middle. Undulating small hills.

Thr 28 Aug 45 mins total, comprised of accelerations, a little faster than last week:

10 minutes walk to warm up, on the way to a jogging site of grass in a park or similar.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with a fast walk pace, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until at the start of minute 3 you are jogging. Keep increasing the jog pace slowly until you are jogging at a good old clip at the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 6 accelerations

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.