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I'm a long time runner (15 plus years) with no real training experience (44 year old male, about 187 lbs, several 5 &10ks and a sprint tri under my belt). I've been doing 12-25 miles per week for many years. I've tried to train for two marathons and injured myself both times during the training and quit (calf tear, ankle twists). 4 years ago I transitioned to barefoot running and now run in a minimal zero drop shoe (Inov-8). During that transition I develped soleus pain and a bit of top of foot pain. But that's gone now, for a couple years. That is, until I started the beginner marathon training plan on this website (the one for time, not for just finishing). This one: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_4/130.shtml
I hear that if there's some tweaks of pain then I should back off the pace. However, I also try to keep the 180 steps per minute, so does this mean to not raise my feet so much? Or should I slow my tempo from 180? My average pace is about 8:30 both on 3m and long runs.
I'm managing the tightness and pain with much post run and throughout the day stretches of the calf and the plantar's tendon. I haven't had to stop running at all, but I am concerned that as I build up the mileage, that the calf will flare up and make me stop. Does it sound like I don't have the base mileage to train for a marathon? I have been running 20 mpw for the 4 weeks before I began the 20 week training program.
Don't worry so much about hitting 180 strides/minute. Worry more about what hurts, how much it hurts, and whether it is truly a "tweak" of pain that you can run through. None of which you're very specific about. If it's the calf (gastroc more likely than soleus), you really need to take care of it and massage will help more than stretching (take a look at this: http://intracell.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Calf-Heart-Attack-Article-Sports-Med.pdf). If it's plantar fasciitis (PF), stretching and stengthening the calf will help, as well as exercises for your foot, such as picking up marbles with your toes.
I think you have enough base to train for a marathon, but don't concentrate on running for time. Maybe you want to run the whole thing, that's fine, but don't be so concerned about time. Also it sounds like you are doing your long runs to fast. If you check the plan it says to run them 90 seconds to 2 minutes per mile slower than your 10K pace.
How long have you been running in the Inov-8 shoes? (Not barefoot, really.) And how far, prior to the marathon training? No achilles problems while transitioning? You may find that they are simply inadequate for longer distances. I run in Kinvaras at 190lbs but I wouldn't take them beyond a half-marathon - just not enough shoe. There are shoes out there with zero or near-zero drop but having more midsole - something to consider.
Still, first and foremost, resolve the aches and pains issues. Good luck.
I meant that I ran barefoot before I moved to minimal shoes. I ran completely barefooted for a year. Then tried the 5 Fingers (didn't like), made my own huaraches (didn't like), and settled on Inov-8 bare X lite 150 (which they don't make any more). My new Bare XF 232 has a stronger outsole but still no last (unless I'm mistaken). I had no achilles problems in transition. I always stretch them really well and have been very flexible my whole life (wrestling and yoga). My only issues are the calf and previously the top of foot. I've worn Inov-8s for 3 years now. Before I started the "pretraining" runs with the linked program, I ran upto 12 miles in the Inov-8s with no pain, no calf twinges. Only since I started running more days of the week, lower mileage, as part of training, that I feel the possible calf issue resurfacing,
I liked that Calf Heartattack article. That sounds like maybe my issue. If it is the gastroc, it's way at the very bottom end of it. I will totally get "The Stick!" I hadn't seen one of those before. I have been using a foam roller and it helped the calf issue in the past, somewhat. Thanks for that link.
I take your point about the long runs. I just feel so energized that I run full on. I do try to slow it down, but I'm not trying hard enough, I guess.
And when I say "running for time" I mean that I just want to break 4 hours. I don't know why, it's just sort of stuck in my head. But, yes, good point about not running for time. Bottom line is I just don't want any injury that stops me from running in general, or from finishing a marathon.
Here's a thought, for the next couple of weeks, run at least ten miles per day, every day. What that will do is force you to slow way down as you'll be too exhausted to run "full on", and that in turn will allow you to build your mileage base even more which will in turn help you train for your marathon with a lower incidence of injury.
And, of course, the bottom end of the gastroc (and the soleus) is the achilles. So there could be some achilles involvement. Not that you should hope for that! Here's a good article if you suspect that. http://www.nismat.org/patients/injury-evaluation-treatment/lower-body/eccentric-training-for-treatment-of-achilles-tendinosis
Now the biggest problem with shipo's suggestion is you will suddenly be doing 70 miles per week, and increase your risk of injury enormously. But you do need to slow down on your long runs, which can only be done by doing.
As for your hoped-for time, go into it with several goals. First to finish; maybe second to run the whole distance (minus water stations); third would be an "uh-oh" time goal like 5 hours where nothing goes right; then an "OK, but not what I wanted" of 4:30; and then "this went pretty well" of 4 hours. Go easy at the beginning, like 15 miles, because too fast during that part will absolutely kill you in the last 6 miles. As my car magnet says "26.2 miles, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"
I got my long run (7 miles) down to 9:40 pace, so that's something!
Thanks for all your advice. Revising my expectations down is smart.
You're training for a marathon and your "long" run is seven miles? Were it I was coaching you, I would suggest you slow down to ten or even eleven minutes per mile and extend your "long" runs up into the mid teens, at the very least. At this point, the least of your worries is how fast you can run seven miles.
My 4 cents.
The problem with the"training by "said" finish time program" is that they don't take into account your baseline capabilities. You may be using the exact right plan for you which is great. However, if you are not sure, you really should do a 30 minute time trial run with a heart rate monitor to figure out what your proper baseline fitness levels are. From that, and only from that, can you even partially begin a training plan that backs into a finish time and wont blow you up. You may simply be over training.
Related to your pain questions,nobody can possibly prescribe anything with the basic data you provided. However, if I was a betting man, I'd bet a lot of money you are like the majority of first time mid 40's marathoners and are not incorporating any sort of real dynamic warm-up prior to your runs. Also, you need to focus and dedicate time for a proper cool down, stretching,massage and foam roller routine. So if you have a two hour long run make sure you schedule a minimum of 15 and more like 30 minutes post run. Every run, every time.
I've been that guy and could never figure out why I was always breaking down. It wasn't until I slowed way down and started spending a lot of time working out the glitches in my flexibility and small support muscles that I was able to significantly improve my run times pain free. The slow runs feel ridiculously slow but they really work.
Good luck and wish you thegreat success at your race.
Use a foam roller religiously, consider replacing some of your runs, particularly your recovery days with a spin bike, consider some leg weigh exercises to strengthen your lower legs, use your foot to draw numbers or figures in the air to mobilize your ankels, don't sit too long after your run, have a chiro adjustment to make sure your legs are similar length, as your pelvis or hips may be ouit of alignment.
Do you have a particular marathon in mind? If you do, and they have pace groups, that can be a great way to keep your pace down at the start. I have trouble holding myself back at the start. I've only done two marathons, but the first one was much better because I forced myself to stay with a pace group (at least for the first half). I ran a nearly even split and, well, I was still trashed at the end, but I ran ran the whole way and had a time I was very happy with.
20 miles a week is woefully inadequate to be considered a good base for racing of any distance. You should refer to the VDOT tables in Daniel's Running Formula to determine your appropriate training paces and then utilize a training schedule that is done by time on feet, rather than distance on feet. For example, it could say running time of 90 minutes on a given day as opposed to saying 10 miles. If you are running your general pace at 8:30 mm, that would be an appropriate pace for someone who, say their E (easy) pace is in the range of 8:05 - 9:06, that would be appropriate for a person who runs a 20:18 5k time and who can reasonably expect to run about a 3:14 - 3:15 marathon. A person expecting to run about a 4 hour marathon would be running about a 25:12 5k time and their E pace for training should be in the range of 10 - 11 minute miles. You need the help of a qualified coach. Please visit RRCA's web site and locate a coach in your area. Good luck!!