Training too hard?

I’m not in the mood to just pop up and go. I just want to stay in my pjs. I don’t want to get sweaty and breathless. But I have to; I promised last night I’d do it this morning before I leave. And it’s staring at me now, they come in all shapes and sizes, some are long but others are short and stocky. Some even have lumps and bumps. Mine is long and curved and worn from overuse and my wife cringes when I take it out, but my foam roller is staring at me and I need to get to work on it before my morning run. The Sunday session is the only early morning run I do. But it’s the longest. From the minute I wake I think of excuses and reasons not to go. Just stay in bed and do it later. Roll over, the bed is cosy, its warm and I’ve found the perfect spot.  But I’m up; and I’ve convinced myself to get out of bed because the Sunday morning long run is the cornerstone of most marathon training plans and like any foundation, it is the reference point for all of the other runs during the training for a marathon. Yet still so many hopeful marathon runners get the planning and progression of their training wrong leading to injury and dashed hopes of completing a marathon.Unfortunately at some stage every runner is likely to be hit by injury  (Videbaek et al., 2015).The two main injury risk factors during marathon training are increasing training load too quickly,  and continuing to train with a previous injury (Saragiotto et al., 2014). The main injuries being achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis and patellofemoral syndrome (knee pain) (Lopes et al., 2012). These ailments tend develop over a period of time but athletes continue to run well beyond the initial signs of their presence.  It may be possible to predict and possibly prevent running injuries in new runners (Nielsen et al., 2012). Several studies have suggested that injury prior to commencing a marathon programme to be the greatest risk factor for injury during training. This may be due to compensatory changes along the chain, reduced range of movement, joint instability or scar tissue build up. However an awareness of these intrinsic changes may benefit the design rehabilitation programmes and potential reduce or even prevent re‐injury rates (Videbaek et al., 2015).

Marathon training is tough and time consuming, and it is vital to monitor the intensity of training. Luckily with GPS watches this is now easy to do, distance, speed and heart rate can be downloaded in seconds.  The intensity of marathon training can be changed by increasing distance and/or pace, and it is these increases in training load that increases the runners’ risk of injury. In particular rapid increases in training loads expose an athlete to an even greater risk of injury (Drew & Finch, 2016). Runners struggle to improve their performance by increasing the training load, the frequency, duration, and intensity. Remaining injury free allows runners to train consistently, increase mileage and intensity gradually and therefore fitness levels. The aim is to increase the training load enough to improve physical fitness and performance but not to increase training load so high as to result in– so it’s a balancing act. And it appears that completing the weekly “long run” at too quick a pace may be one of the reasons runners break down during marathon training. The danger of injury can be minimised and controlled by following a graduated, flexible and coach led training programme and maybe even using your lumpy bumpy foam roller occasionally might help!


Drew MK & Finch CF. (2016). The Relationship Between Training Load and Injury, Illness and Soreness: A Systematic and Literature Review. Sports Med 46, 861-883.

Lopes AD, Hespanhol Junior LC, Yeung SS & Costa LO. (2012). What are the main running-related musculoskeletal injuries? A Systematic Review. Sports Med 42, 891-905.

Nielsen RO, Buist I, Sorensen H, Lind M & Rasmussen S. (2012). Training errors and running related injuries: a systematic review. Int J Sports Phys Ther 7, 58-75.

Saragiotto BT, Yamato TP, Hespanhol Junior LC, Rainbow MJ, Davis IS & Lopes AD. (2014). What are the main risk factors for running-related injuries? Sports Med 44, 1153-1163.

Videbaek S, Bueno AM, Nielsen RO & Rasmussen S. (2015). Incidence of Running-Related Injuries Per 1000 h of running in Different Types of Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 45, 1017-1026.


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