Tuesday, August 23, 2011

High mileage pain: what to do?

After so many overheated runs in the 95 degree California dry heat last week, it was great to get back to running in Michigan. The weather is still summery here at 80-85 degrees, but it is cooling down significantly in the evenings. It’s lovely outdoor sports weather.

On Sunday, I did my 18 mile training run in the evening. I can’t tell you how much easier it was to run in 70 degree air than it was in the California desert heat! I had so much energy. I was able to run the entire 18 miles without walking. I hydrated adequately and ate enough during the run, so it was a great confidence boost in most respects.

But one thing about the run worries me. I felt great the whole time until the last 3 miles when everything started to hurt. I still had energy, but pain just started to grow in my tired feet, hips, knees, and legs. Toward the end, every step hurt and my legs got heavier and harder to move.

I completed the training run, but what’s going to happen on race day when I still have 8.2 more miles to go at that point? Will one more long training run at 20 miles prepare me to push that pain off as long into the race as possible? Or is this what every marathoner faces at high mileage?

Can I just push through it, or will it get so bad that I just can’t keep running? Should I be eating more or taking walk breaks? Are my electrolytes low?  Should I be doing more base mileage on my shorter days?

Marathoners (or other endurance athletes - thanks Donna!) out there…I need your wisdom!


  1. I'm certainly not a marathoner, but when it comes to the body fatigue to the extent you suggest at "endurance" distances, I would first check nutrition. I switched to Perpetuem for my long events and I noticed a difference right way, experiencing far less muscle fatigue. Perpetuem has a little bit of protein and L-carnetine (I think), which both help block muscle breakdown/fatigue. Hammer Nutrition's site does a better job explaining it. There ya go, for whatever that's worth, from a non-marathoning, half-iron distance triathlete. :)

  2. @Donna - Thanks for the suggestion! I shouldn't have specified "marathoners" in my request. Of course, any athlete could help me out with this - half-ironman athlete's included! Protein is a good point. The gels that I carry don't usual have protein in them. That might help keep my muscles going on the long efforts, as you said. I'll give it a try!

  3. "Can I just push through it, or will it get so bad that I just can’t keep running? Should I be eating more or taking walk breaks?" I guess you need to listen to your body and experience and from there, discern what steps to do next.