Craig (Barefoot Nozza) contacted me at Barefoot Beginner. I put his question out to the barefoot coaches and these were their responses.
I am an experienced barefooter and am 4 weeks into a schedule
to prepare for my 1st marathon. I am on schedule but need some advice on
recovery as I am aching 24/7.
I won’t say “enjoy the journey.” That’s too cliche. But know that every athlete at every level has dealt with the phenomenon of reality not matching their wishes. Just part of the game.
Feel The World™!
Hi Craig, here’s my advice.
I’d first check out your schedule. Is it suitable for a first-timer? Is the mileage too high, or the progression too fast?
Continual fatigue would suggest this might be the case. I often find that ‘beginner’ schedules contain far too many long runs – your body doesn’t ‘forget’ what to do if you have a break from long runs (I have some of my clients do them only fortnightly). So a long run break – as part of a reduced mileage week – might be the way to go.
I’d also recommend that you don’t skip important post-run recovery practices such as refuelling within the first half hour with 50-60g carbohydrate and 15-20g protein (a chocolate milk or banana smoothie should do the trick, along with a piece of fruit), stretching, icing any sore areas and using compression tights to assist venous return and reduce soreness. I also like to spend a few minutes with my legs up the wall, just breathing, after my stretch to enhance recovery.
Hi Craig, Firstly I would like to wish you all the best in your marathon as they are a fantastic experience and a great way of building character!
As for your enquiry regarding recovery, this is something that you must address sooner rather than later. There are two ways of aching after exercise. One is a healthy muscular ache that occurs after taking part in exercise that your body is not used to or pushing yourself hard during a training session, whereas the other is your body’s way of telling you that you are over-training.
Possible causes of over-training:
1) When you are building up your mileage you should never increase your weekly mileage or the longest weekly distance by more than 10% from the previous week. You should also incorporate ‘rest’ weeks where you drop the mileage to let your body recover.
2) Have you changed the terrain that you run on from smooth to rough off-road running? This increases the stress on muscles as they have to work harder to stabilise you.
3) Are you prancing like a pony? This may sound weird, but many barefoot runners actually run too much on their toes and need to let their heels drop quite a bit. Check out http://www.barefootbeginner.com/2012/12/01/should-my-heel-touch-the-floor-ask-the-barefoot-coaches-number-2/ for more info on this subject You also need to keep well hydrated and eat a variety of fresh foods including fruit and veg to supply your body with the nutrients it needs to recover from each session.
Listen to your body and if it aches too much, stop, take a few days rest or walk for a few days instead of running. Once you push it too much and injure yourself it is too late and you could set yourself back weeks or even months. Listen to your body and pay attention is the best advice anyone can give you; everyone’s body is individual and therefore requires an individual training program.
All the best with the rest of your training Andy (Contact me at www.cambridgefitnessacademy.co.uk or www.caveman-clarke.blogspot.co.uk )
I note in your interview that you mention you felt weak all the time when playing football, so firstly it may be worth seeing a GP to make sure there are no underlying causes to your achiness and general fatigue. If all is OK then, whilst ensuring that your basic technique is sound, I would focus on body sensing and gradual process – two principles of the Chi Running technique.
Are you aching in a particular place or all over? Listen and respond to your body
If you start an new exercise programme or increase intensity it is usual to experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This can kick in anytime up to 72 hours after a workout. It is a normal response and will lead to greater strength and stamina. However it shouldn’t be constant. Make sure you do a good warm up with joint looseness and dynamic stretching and give yourself enough time after each run to do good quality, focused static stretching.
General aching should wear off if you allow yourself to recover properly – stretching, eating the right foods, sleeping well and having rest days. Think of it as ‘functional discomfort’. If you ache in a particular area then you need to pay attention to technique as something is not quite right. If you experience pain then stop immediately and have it checked out. Listen to your body, sense what is going on and respond to it.
What schedule are you following and was it designed for you personally? Progress gradually with realistic goals in mind
Make sure you are not over training by setting your goals to high. You should be following a realistic training programme and not ‘pushing’ yourself beyond your optimal limits. Gradual progress is the key. Don’t do too much too soon. Focus on technique first then distance. Make sure you follow a specific marathon training programme with time dedicated to long slow runs at a comfortable conversational pace (try total nasal breathing). These will develop your cardiovascular system and aerobic capacity, condition your muscles and help you become more energy-efficient. Then you can look to develop speed when your body is suitably conditioned. Again, make sure recovery is paramount and rest days are scheduled. These are just as important as your active sessions. If you don’t recover properly your body will not develop. Fatigue will set in which is a surefire way to head down the road to injury and dissillusionment.
Finally, understand fully why you are running the marathon, relax and enjoy!
It’s difficult to be very specific with an answer without knowing more about your training schedule, diet, etc. but here are some general pointers that may help:
It sounds, from your interview with Chris, that you’re quite used to running regularly and already cover significant distances during your runs. However, if the aches and pains have coincided with a change in your running habits (as you’re now following a specific schedule for the marathon) it’s likely that this change is a contributing cause.
If you’re aching all the time, it indicates that your body is under some distress. The most likely reason is that you’ve increased your mileage and/or running frequency too quickly and you’re not getting sufficient rest and recovery. Most marathon schedules have some room for flexibility, so see if you can make some moderate changes so that you have more rest time. Most marathon schedules will also offer you different types of runs too, so this maybe a new factor for you.
In your interview, you mentioned that speed is not really your focus, but if this schedule has you doing intervals and tempo runs, this might be something your body’s not used to and will need time to adapt. Take a look at other stresses in your life too. Are you more stressed at work or not eating and hydrating well? Are you getting ample amounts of sleep? Make sure you’re not reaching for extra caffeine or sugary foods/drinks to help combat feelings of fatigue as this will create a spiralling (downwards!) effect. Try adding in some relaxation sessions to your schedule too. Some simple meditation exercises would probably be useful as they are calming and help you improve your breathing. Many people find that yoga is a great complement to running too. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself with the marathon.
It sounds like you really enjoy your running so continue to make that your focus. Best of luck!
Training for a marathon is the next step up from the half marathon that you did at the end of September. However, training should be demanding but not that you are aching 24/7. I haven’t seen your current training plan so the advice I am going to give you is based on information that I have gathered from your interview in early September. With that in mid I would direct my advice down the following lines:
Firstly ‘Weekly Recovery’. Each week there should be easy and hard sessions and you should consider a day completely off. Then you need to consider ‘Monthly Recovery’. Have you built in a recovery week into your training plan every third or fourth week. This regular period of reduced workload (approx 75%) maybe 3 to 7 days, depending on your workload from the previous hard training weeks. This will enable your fatigue to diminish and your form to recover. Recovery is vital it enables you to replenish, revitalise and means that you don’t go into zombie training mode.
2. Running Form
I see from your reading list you have taken inspiration from various sources such as Chi Running all the way through to Chrissie Wellington. That is great, but have you developed specific techniques based on a natural running technique that is focused on the midfoot strike. You see so many runners decide to move across from heal striking to midfoot striking like I did, but decide to experiment rather than follow a proven system of transition and training. In your case you are moving up to marathon distance, and if you haven’t developed the right technique and learnt how to transition to mid-foot, you are exposing your body to a lot of potential stress physically as well as mentally.
As a coach I thought I could do it my way too when I decided to move from heal striking to midfoot striking. I learnt the hard way! Six months down the line I suffered a stress fracture to my left tibia. That knocked me back for 3 months having to recover. So I used the time to do some serious research which led me to Dr Nicholas Romanov’s teachings of the POSE Method. Romanov’s teaching’s are well chronicled over the last 40 years. His technique is logical and takes you through the transitions in stages to reduce your chances of injury. So I learnt how to methodically transition and now run with an effective midfoot strike. A key aspect to his teachings is through the understanding of how to use your body’s GCM (General Centre of Mass),so you can use gravity to power your running for FREE. I was so impressed I undertook training in the POSE Method with Romanov’s POSE Tech, so that I can teach effective Natural Running techniques.
You have been experimenting with Vivram barefoots whilst still wearing your ‘trashed’ Nikes. It is good to experiment but you need to be careful when starting to up the distances, so that you are not putting stress on your legs by increasing mileage too quickly in your Vibrams. As far as your Nike’s are concerned they were second hand and battered before you got them. I would question using someone elses shoes as they mould and wear to the previous owners foot shape and running form. I know you are dreaming about ‘Barefoot Ted’s Luna Sandals. They may prove to be perfect for you, but please look into logically as your feet would need so much training to get used the support straps. So don’t jump in to making such decisions, especially if you are training for the likes of a marathon. To make transition from regular trainers to minimalist/barefoot shoes should be done out of event training season.
I hope I have covered most angles not having a full picture to your issues. If you want to read more about natural running training then visit by website www.wildforestgym.com
Thankyou to all the coaches for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer Craig’s question. If you have a question for the coaches, contact Chris here
Do you have a question that you would like a bit of advice with? Ask it here.
The coaches answers to previous barefoot questions.