Posted by: Joe English | April 7, 2010

Training — Bumped, Bruised, Strained… Runners

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

It has been a long time since I wrote a piece called the regular aches and pains of running. Today I want to address the myriad inquiries coming to me right now in the middle of the training season that sound more like this: “Why am I falling apart? Why is this happening to me now!?!”

Today’s question: why do first time-marathoners seem to fall apart mid-season and is this normal?

First, I’d like to set a little more context in your heads. You — marathon runner in training — have probably been running on and off for a few weeks or months when you get to this point. You may be going through this for the first time, or the first time in a long time. Either way, if you’re feeling pummeled and peeled and asking whether this is normal, you’re probably not a long-time marathon runner and I can tell you why. The aching, the pains, the bruises and bumps: they go with the territory.

Now that’s not to say that every runner is in a perpetual state of injury, but it is to say that there is some manner of discomfort that comes along with dragging your body miles and miles for weeks or months on end.

Your training is cumulative over time. This means that you accrue benefits through the repetition and consistency of training. In other words, doing it over and over again is what makes it stick in the long-run. But it also means that you are heaping more and more physical stress on top of a growing pile of physical stress and this often leads to some parts of your body to revolt. Whether it be a suddenly sore knee or a lower-back that tightens up, a foot that doesn’t feel quite right when you get out of bed in the morning or a butt muscle that just isn’t so; whatever it be, it is probably a reaction to the beating you’re dishing out to your body.

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