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Should I be constantly tired when training for a marathon? (Read 2280 times)

    I'm currently training for a marathon and I'm almost at the half-way mark. I've been following the Pftizinger 55mi/24 wk plan. The problem I have is that my legs are constantly tired and it's been getting harder and harder to do my runs over the last couple weeks. I've also been getting slower and slower. Is this normal for marathon training? That is, you typically push your body as far as it'll go without breaking? E.g, today was suppose to be an easy 11-mile run. From the time I got up at 5am, I could tell I was tired, but I wanted to be sure it just wasn't me being lazy and wanting an extra 2 hours of sleep (I did get 8 hrs sleep), so I dressed and went out. From the first step, I knew it was going to be tough and by 1.5 miles, I gave up. I walked another 1.5 as I had nothing else to do anyway seeing it was so early. A typically week so far in the Pftizinger plan is as follows: Sun - Long Mon - Rest Tue - Medium Long Wed - Recovery Thu - Medium Long Fri - Rest Sat - Recovery The long runs are all 17+ miles and the medium longs are 9+ miles. I've come to realize that I probably can't hit the 50+ miles for a week, or if I do I would be a wreck the following week. I can probably sustain 40 miles, but I would need to rearrange the runs so I can get some recovery time. I know the long Sunday run is the "the" most important one so I'll keep that and run it based on Pftizinger's plan which would give me 4 20-milers and 1 21-miler before the marathon. I'm thinking of changing the runs during the week and doing just one medium-long run of 10 miles on a Wed and recovery 5-mile runs on the other days so every week would look like this, with the only variation coming on how long I run on the Sunday: Sun - Long (17+ miles) Mon - Rest Tue - Easy 5 miles Wed - Medium long 10-miles Thu - Easy 5 miles Fri - Easy 5 miles Sat - Rest If I did that next week, I'd hit 42 miles, but I'm thinking it may give my body a better chance of recovering. I would get 2 easy days after the long run and then 3 easy days before the following Sunday's long run. Some questions: - Is it OK to run the SAME distances every week during the week, or should I really be mixing it up? - Should I instead just concentrate on the Sunday long runs and do my weekly runs purely based on how I feel - The second half of the Pfitzinger plan calls for 2 speed workouts each week. I'm thinking it's probably OK for me to not worry about it too much, or should I still try and do a little speed work? Maybe run 2-3 miles of the Friday run at tempo pace, or is it just not going to make a difference and it's better to really run it "easy" - The Pftizinger plans calls for 3 races on Saturdays in the 8-15K range. I would like to still do those later on, but I'm a bit concerned on the impact to my long run on the following day. Or am I just whining and all marathon runner are constantly fatigued and I should just try and suck it up as best as I can for the next 13 weeks? I do know that the week before my last 18-mile run, I ran very little as I was sick, but my legs felt so fresh during that long run, it was great.
    Derek


    A Dance with Monkeys

      The problem I have is that my legs are constantly tired and it's been getting harder and harder to do my runs over the last couple weeks. I've also been getting slower and slower.
      You are running too much. Too hard. Pfitz 55 is too advanced. One year ago you were putting in < 5 miles per week. that means you should probably be maxing right now at 25-40 miles per week. when running too many miles and too much intensity, you will ultimately tire and slow down. most of your running should feel easy to you. is this your first marathon? if so, you may only want to be running 4 days per week with one or two days of cross training. you probably only need to do 3-4 runs over 16 miles, spaced two weeks apart, in the final weeks before the marathon (not this early). all your other runs should be no more than half of your longest run. right now, this far out, your toughest week should look something like this: mon - cross tues - 4 miles easy weds - 6 miles easy thurs - 4 miles easy or speed/hill fri - rest sat - cross or rest sun - 12 miles long there are many variations of this, but you should note that this incudes a lot of low intensity and rest. once you start to ramp up your milage, you will need to drop back and rest every 2-3 weeks. yes, mix up running types. you may want to check out other training programs, such as higdon's novice program. 5="" miles="" per="" week.="" that="" means="" you="" should="" probably="" be="" maxing="" right="" now="" at="" 25-40="" miles="" per="" week.="" when="" running="" too="" many="" miles="" and="" too="" much="" intensity,="" you="" will="" ultimately="" tire="" and="" slow="" down.="" most="" of="" your="" running="" should="" feel="" easy="" to="" you.="" is="" this="" your="" first="" marathon?="" if="" so,="" you="" may="" only="" want="" to="" be="" running="" 4="" days="" per="" week="" with="" one="" or="" two="" days="" of="" cross="" training.="" you="" probably="" only="" need="" to="" do="" 3-4="" runs="" over="" 16="" miles,="" spaced="" two="" weeks="" apart,="" in="" the="" final="" weeks="" before="" the="" marathon="" (not="" this="" early).="" all="" your="" other="" runs="" should="" be="" no="" more="" than="" half="" of="" your="" longest="" run.="" right="" now,="" this="" far="" out,="" your="" toughest="" week="" should="" look="" something="" like="" this:="" mon="" -="" cross="" tues="" -="" 4="" miles="" easy="" weds="" -="" 6="" miles="" easy="" thurs="" -="" 4="" miles="" easy="" or="" speed/hill="" fri="" -="" rest="" sat="" -="" cross="" or="" rest="" sun="" -="" 12="" miles="" long="" there="" are="" many="" variations="" of="" this,="" but="" you="" should="" note="" that="" this="" incudes="" a="" lot="" of="" low="" intensity="" and="" rest.="" once="" you="" start="" to="" ramp="" up="" your="" milage,="" you="" will="" need="" to="" drop="" back="" and="" rest="" every="" 2-3="" weeks.="" yes,="" mix="" up="" running="" types.="" you="" may="" want="" to="" check="" out="" other="" training="" programs,="" such="" as="" higdon's="" novice=""></ 5 miles per week. that means you should probably be maxing right now at 25-40 miles per week. when running too many miles and too much intensity, you will ultimately tire and slow down. most of your running should feel easy to you. is this your first marathon? if so, you may only want to be running 4 days per week with one or two days of cross training. you probably only need to do 3-4 runs over 16 miles, spaced two weeks apart, in the final weeks before the marathon (not this early). all your other runs should be no more than half of your longest run. right now, this far out, your toughest week should look something like this: mon - cross tues - 4 miles easy weds - 6 miles easy thurs - 4 miles easy or speed/hill fri - rest sat - cross or rest sun - 12 miles long there are many variations of this, but you should note that this incudes a lot of low intensity and rest. once you start to ramp up your milage, you will need to drop back and rest every 2-3 weeks. yes, mix up running types. you may want to check out other training programs, such as higdon's novice program.>
      RunFree7


      Run like a kid again!

        I would say the long run is definatley your most important run. I can tell you that I am always tired and I have good stretches of running and bad ones. A lot depends on what you are trying to do here. Is this your first marathon? Are you just trying to finish the marathon or are you trying to reach a time goal? If you are just trying to finish then you are pushing yourself too hard and forget the speed work. For my first Marathon I didn't even worry about speed work. If it is a hilly course then you will need to get some hill work in as well. If you are trying to reach a certain time (that is reasonable) then you will need to do speed work, intervals or tempo runs. Everyone has his/her own favorites or must do. I do what I like though and what makes the most sense to me. Different subject though. Trent, what is your feeling on the same miles per week thought? Currently this is my plan for my 16 weeks for the Columbus marathon but I am starting to think this is not wise.
          2011 Goals:
          Sub 19 5K (19:24 5K July 14th 2010)
          Marathon under 3:05:59 BQ (3:11:10 Indy 2010)
          Mon - cross Tues - 4 miles easy Weds - 6 miles easy Thurs - 4 miles easy or speed/hill Fri - rest Sat - cross or rest Sun - 12 miles long
          The above would give me just 26 miles for the week. The last time I ran under 30 miles was 10 weeks ago. This will be my first marathon, but I will not be satisfied with "just finishing". I want to run a sub-4 hr marathon, and even if I can't achieve that, I want to train as hard as I can and run as much as I can without getting injured so that I have the best chance of achieving my goal. In other words, when I run my marathon. even if don't make a sub 4-hr marathon, I want to know that I did the best that I could give my age and experience and not have any regrets that I took it easy, or that I should have run some more, or that I was lazy and didn't want to get up at 5am. I guess I trying to figure out how much and how hard I can run as opposed to how easy or little I can run in order to do my marathon in Oct.
          Derek
          RunFree7


          Run like a kid again!

            Oh Derek giving it your all won't be a problem. However, the worst feeling is training for all of these weeks only to start off to fast and fade at the end. Trust me I did this at the Flying pig this past year and I am still mad at myself even though I ran it in 3:52. I should have been much faster. I did have my best half marathon though. I have the same mindset as you do but trust me when I say this, anyone that finishes a marathon has a lot of determination and desire. It takes a lot of dedication to run one. Anyway, your soreness could be something as simple as the fact that you are running in the morning. I tried this for a few weeks and I hate it. My body needs time to wake up. If I run in the morning my times are a lot slower then when I run at night even though it is alot hotter in the evenings. Everyone is different. How about trying to run 30 - 40 miles a week? According to your log though that would be a step up in your running right now, right?
              2011 Goals:
              Sub 19 5K (19:24 5K July 14th 2010)
              Marathon under 3:05:59 BQ (3:11:10 Indy 2010)
              I tend to agree with the others. I haven't run a marathon, but to me your schedule seems pretty agressive, coming from very low weekly mileage last year to very high mileage this year. Most marathon training schedules that are as advanced as the one you are looking at tend to have 1 year of base of a certain distance as a prerequisite. Not familiar with your particular plan, but if it has such, do you comply with it? If you are feeling that tired, your body is telling you to change something, and ignoring that could end up causing either burnout or injury. If you are sure you are fine with the mileage, and really want to keep up your current plan, then perhaps examine your nutrition. Not getting enough/right kinds of food can also cause you to feel tired constantly. You are burning alot of fuel to cover those kind of distances, are you putting in what you are taking out? Either way, hope you start feeling better and reach your goal(s). Good luck!


              A Dance with Monkeys

                The above would give me just 26 miles for the week. The last time I ran under 30 miles was 10 weeks ago.
                Yep. When starting a marathon training plan, you usually drop WAY back. In your case, this is especially important since one year ago you were not even running. < tough-love="" /> You have put your body through hell over the past year and it is finally telling you that enough is enough. So as I see it, you have some choices. 1. drop your miles back and risk going slower that 4 hours at your marathon 2. keep going as you are and risk injury, burnout or overtraining, any of which will keep you from the start line 3. postpone your first marathon until you have 1-3 years of base at 40-60 + miles per week to ensure that you can handle this program 4. use your first marathon as a training exercise to experience what 26.2 miles feels like and shoot for a faster one in the future. When you say this: "I want to train as hard as I can and run as much as I can without getting injured so that I have the best chance of achieving my goal", you are missing the important point of training for a marathon. Most of your training should not be "hard". There should be bits of hard work couched in lots and lots of easy work. When you "push your body as far as it'll go without breaking", you will exhaust it and it will fail, even if it does not break. This is why your race times are slowing. This is why you are tired. This is why you have had increasing dread about your next run. This is why your heart is racing when you get up in the morning. No, don't push your body as hard as you can in training. Save this for your races and your occasional speed workout. Use your training period to build a base and experience. Since you have tired yourself, now you need to step back if you hope to succeed. One more bit of tough love: your last race was in April. It was a 5k. Your pace was 8:08. You need to be doing more racing now, closer to your goal marathon. And with the 8:08 pace, McMillan predicts a marathon time of about 4:05, which in my experience is about 20 minutes faster than most people will actually run off of a 5k prediction. So, were it me, I would think seriously about options 1 & 4 above. < ough-love="" /> Wink
                  Sounds like a lot of running to me. I too am training for my first marathon (Columbus - Oct. 21). My week will look something like this: Mon 6.4 miles (Easy/Recovery) Tues 6.4 miles (2 mile warm-up, 4.4 miles moderate) Wed Rest Thur 6.4 miles (2 mile warm-up, 3 miles tempo, 1.4 miles moderate) Fri 6.4 miles (Easy) Sat Long run 1-2 mile easy running/warm-up (strides, etc.), 12 mile run (4 miles easy (about 1 min slower than moderate pace) 4 miles race pace, 4 miles easy) Sun Rest About 40 miles. (39.6, to be exact) Not crazy about speedwork, but see the necessity. I like to mix it up a bit on daily runs as opposed to a single work-out dedicated to, say, the track. But, that's just me. I'll add mileage to my long runs (1-2 miles/week), but will likely keep the mid-week runs the same. The two days off are key for me, but I suppose you could add some cross training as desired.


                  A Dance with Monkeys

                    (I would add that your progress over the past year has been incredible, keep it up, but take it easy so that you can continue on into the foreseeable future)
                      No, don't push your body as hard as you can in training. Save this for your races and your occasional speed workout.
                      I guess when I stated I want to training as "hard" as I can, I may have left the impression that I've been doing my training runs at a fast pace. On the contrary, I've actually stopped doing any speed workouts in the last couple weeks and I've been doing my training runs "slower" My legs don't hurt or feel sore....they just feel "tired" and "heavy" I have decided to abandon the Pftiz plan and I'm just trying to figure out how best to restructure as I move forward.
                      Derek
                      va


                        Trent, that is some good tough love. Derek, it's hard to beat Trent''s advice. I would just add, if you do run some more races, include some halfs. This will give a better predictor of your full marathon finish time. Also, for a point of reference, I am training for my first and am doing 30-40 mpw, and I feel pretty good (I still look forward to my runs). I will be in this range of mileage for the bulk of my training (marathon in November). McMillan is predicting a 4:33 finish for me based on my 2:09 half in April. I set a strecth goal for myself of 4:20 (~10 mpm), but imagine it could take me as long as 4:45. Not really a big deal to me. The main reason I think I can beat the McMillan prediction is because I am losing weight, and will be a lot light by race time. Note that between now and November, I will run a 10 K, and as many as 3 halfs (one in August, one in September, and one in October). These will be good meaures of my progress (plus they're fun). Modified to add: Here is the plan I am currently following. The pace recommendation are for a 4:20 finish. This came from the coach of the local marathoin training program I am in. The halfs listed in the last column are race I want to add. Note the rest days before and after the long run. I originally didn't like this because it requires running 4 days in a row, but it seems to work well, allowing for sufficent rest before the long run, and recovery afterwards. The shorter runs on Tuesday and Thursday, make the 4 days straight doable. There is a second phase of the training plan which I won't get until September.
                          If you are consistently very tired, you are going to break down. It's inevitable. If your pace is getting slower and slower that is the first sign that you're headed for a fall. There's a lot of good advice in this thread already, but here are a few observations: 1.) The Pfitz plan is not one-size-fits-all. It's a guide. You need to listen to your body. Don't obsess over a number (50 mpw, 20 mile long run, etc.) It's probably good that you've dropped the Pfitz plan for now. I agree with Trent it's too advanced. 2.) Training is a progression. Your own history is much, much more important in determining the right amount of mileage FOR YOU than a chart in a book. 45 mpw is currently your lifetime high. You need to keep that in perspective. 3.) It's normal to feel tired a lot of the time during marathon training. But if you never have days that you feel fresh then you're not recovering well enough and you need to back off. It's normal for your average pace to slow a bit when you first make a jump in training but it should level off pretty quickly. If it continues to slow, you're breaking down. 4.) The long runs are your most important single runs of the week but they are still way overrated and there's no need to hit some magic number like 20 miles. I'd keep your mid-long runs to under 1:40 and your long runs to under 3:00 at all times no matter what that gives you for distance, and I'd build up to even those levels gradually. I like your revised schedule for you a lot better. It's actually not that different from what I do myself except it emphasizes the LR more than I do. But if you need to take a down week from that, do it. You can't run your best marathon if you break down before you get there. FWIW, my goal marathon is 14 weeks away and I have yet to go over 2 hours in a single training run.

                          Runners run.

                            I like your revised schedule for you a lot better. It's actually not that different from what I do myself except it emphasizes the LR more than I do. But if you need to take a down week from that, do it. You can't run your best marathon if you break down before you get there. FWIW, my goal marathon is 14 weeks away and I have yet to go over 2 hours in a single training run.
                            Thanks everyone for the advice. I will try my revised plan next week and see how I feel at the end. Trent, I'm not ignoring your advice, but I would rather try reducing my mileage gradually and rearranging my runs for better recovery and see how it goes rather than dropping to under 30 miles in one go. I may well end up there eventually, but I'd like to try some other options first. Derek
                            Derek


                            Burninated Peasant

                              FWIW, I have that dead-legs feeling anytime my cumulative sleep is behind. If I've been traveling, or just up an hour later than normal for 2-3 nights in a row, the 5am run becomes more of a chore for the legs, even though the lungs are clearly fine. I know you said that you got enough sleep before this last run, but have you been getting enough sleep overall? Also, I had the same feeling for about three weeks last year while getting ready for White Rock at a similar point in my training. I thought about cutting back and running a spring marathon instead, but stubbornly kept at it. I ended up feeling great a month before the race, but the race itself did not go so well. Recovery from the race was very difficult and slow as well. Trent's advice looks pretty good to me. Of course, had I been on RA at the time and received the same advice, I would have ignored it since it isn't what I would have wanted to hear.


                              Was it all a dream?

                                Well, the Pfitz program may be a bit much at the moment, but I would definitely suggest going back to it in the future. I've used a couple of Pfitz's plans in the past, and I felt like they got me into great marathon shape. I think the mid-week ML run is a very important aspect of training that you don't necessarily find in other marathon training programs. I definitely agree with what others have said about running your first marathon in order to just gain respect for the distance. The marathon can be a terrible experience if you go out at a pace you cannot sustain... However, if you want to run as fast as you can, I would suggest running a few half marathon races before the marathon to get a better idea of what sort of time you might be able to get (double the half time plus ten minutes). Don't set 4 hours as the race day goal until you know what sort of shape you're able to get yourself into at this point in your running life. Doing a half about 4 weeks out will give you a really good idea about what to expect. If you switch over to the new plan you suggested make sure to introduce some more quality runs (tempo, intervals, pace) as the race nears. Even if that means sacrificing miles on the LR, some good quality runs will pay major dividends on race day.

                                I'm in the business of misery...

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