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Are You Ready For Another Long Run? Don’t Let Over-training Lead You To Injury


This time of year seems to be the ‘season’ for people overtraining. Whether it’s people cramming the miles in for the marathon they signed up for or working tirelessly on their summer bodies. Over-training is where the load placed on the body exceeds the rate at which the body can repair itself and it’s so common.. yet can be so easily avoided, all by having a training plan!


You may have heard the old saying “knowledge is power” and it’s no more relevant than in this case. I’m going to highlight some areas in which you could be over-training and how to combat that fatigued, over-trained state during a marathon programme!




Believe it or not to get the best results you don’t need to train at a high intensity for every training session. Be smart in your training & train for a purpose!


When training I’ll always have a long, slow run a week in which (if you have company) you should be able to hold a conversation comfortably without being out of breath. The advantage of this is it will build up your muscles aerobic resilience for the longer miles to come in the future. It does this by increasing the amount and the efficiency of the mitochondria in the muscles – the mitochondria’s role within the muscle is to provide energy by utilising the oxygen so the muscles don’t use energy from anaerobic sources i.e lactic acid.. cramp.. Need I say more?


This will be accompanied by two medium distance runs with intervals structured into them. Throwing in a quicker mile here or there to keep the body guessing!


Of course you still need the intensity and I achieve this by a short run at which the intensity will be high. Throwing your high intensity run in will allow you to keep the sharpness in the mile times.  




Recently we had a client in clinic who had ran every day and had come in to see us about knee pain. Muscular fatigue and/or muscular tightness lead to biomechanical faults and therefore injury. This happens because the body will find a way to complete the miles regardless of the limitations mentioned above that are being imposed on it. If we don’t give our muscles enough time to recover we suffer from these type of overuse injuries.


We usually see clients who are on a fitness surge or they’ve left their marathon training to the last minute and are increasing their mileage too quickly to a point where the body can’t keep up with the demands being placed on it.


Let me give you an analogy: if you run a tap into a sink at a light intensity the water will trickle down the plughole easily. The more you increase the tempo of the tap the more backlog of water will be pooled in the sink, this backlog of water represents the overtraining element where we need to wait for the plughole to catch up with the pouring water which we can do by turning the tap back down. Likewise, a structured plan and gradual increase in mileage will give you a wider plug hole for easier drainage between sessions as the body is used to the mileage being placed upon it.




Build a plan specific to you. If you’re a beginner, you’ll need a longer plan before you can really ramp up your training to the longer distances to build that mile resistance into your legs.


Just to give you the basics when designing a plan: you need to factor in Meso, micro and macro cycles.


The macrocycle is the bigger plan, so this could where you want to be by the end of your training programme.


The microcycle is the opposite, it’s the short term i.e this week’s training.


The mesocycle summarises a block of microcycles, for example, monthly periods.


I spoke a little bit about how I would set up my micro-cycle above but every week over the course of my 4 weeks my mileage would increase by 5-10% each week and then every 4 weeks (mesocycle) I would have an active recovery week in which I’d decrease my mileage to allow my body to recover.


Also if you feel fatigued/heavy legged it’s a good idea to look into other branches of training. For example, you can still work your cardio-vascular system to the same intensity but utilise the muscles in a lower capacity through Swimming and Cross-training. This can be used throughout your training plan but specifically on your down weeks!


My biggest advice to a marathon trainer is don’t try and cram all your training in to a short period of time, start early and give yourself plenty of time to build your load. This will ensure your body can adapt to it and therefore stay injury free. Injury free gives you every chance of achieving your goals, whatever they may be [ebs_icon type=”fa-smile-o” icontype=”fa”]

Aaron Whittaker – Specialist Running Therapist at WDC Physio[ebs_separator style=”separator-thin”][/ebs_separator]
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[ebs_iconheading type=”h4″ style=”glyphicon-user” icontype=”glyphicon”][/ebs_iconheading] About the Author
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About Aaron Whittaker

Aaron is one of our top therapists here at WDC Physio and is a keen runner himself. Aaron is currently training for the Manchester Marathon on 8th April 2018.

Aaron is well in to his own training and now in the top quarter of all runners on Strava of which there are 80,927 of them.

Choose Aaron to help you get to the bottom of your running injuries and you know you you      will be in good hands.


If you are new to running or you a seasoned competitor aiming for a personal best and want some more tips on coping with sporting injuries, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and keeping free from painkillers and sports supports get your free copy of our sports injury guide: http://www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/physiotherapy/free-guide-for-injured-athletes/




Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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