Cumulative Fatigue. That pretty much sums up what I’m feeling at the moment. I had a bit of a freak out moment when I woke up yesterday, post tempo run, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first, let’s talk about this concept of Cumulative Fatigue.
The Hansons Marathon Method I’m following for this year’s Chicago Marathon is built around this concept, which they define as “the accumulation of fatigue over days, weeks, and even months of consistent training. In other words, cumulative fatigue results from repetitive training that does not allow for full recovery between training days.” I write more about the five components of cumulative fatigue (mileage, intensity, balance, consistency, and recovery) in my Week 1 Training post.
But this week, I think I finally really realized what this is all about. My tempo run was the cause for this. Thursday’s tempo run was 8 miles (with 1 mile WU/CD for 10 total). This was a big jump from last week’s 5 mile tempo run. On the Hansons plan, tempo runs are run at marathon pace, not slightly below as is the case with many plans. This week’s tempo run was challenging, but went pretty well overall. I did forget my water bottle which was a big mistake and something I won’t do again, but other than that, it went well.
However, I was SO tired and sore Thursday night and Friday morning when I woke up. I literally felt like I’d been hit by a truck. All I wanted was a rest day. This was discouraging, as I knew I had a 6 miler to run Friday, followed by 5 today and 15 Sunday. Feeling frightened by this prospect I went back to my Hansons Marathon Method book to re-read their philosophy behind the positioning of the tempo run in the schedule and the lack of any time to rest afterwards. I needed a reminder of why I was doing this.
Here’s the key points the plan emphasizes about tempo runs:
- Use these runs to internalize marathon pace. I’m not going to lie, I’m still working on this. This week’s run was smoother than last week’s in that I was close to my pace most of the time, but I did look down quite often at my watch to see that I was going too fast, and that is a bad thing.
- These runs will, over time, help me understand if I’ve picked the right marathon goal. I have A, B, and C goals and based on how my tempo runs are feeling as I get a little closer to race day I may decide which goal to focus on accordingly.
- On this plan, tempo runs start at 5 miles, and work up to 10 miles.
- Tempo runs are followed by two days of easy runs, then the long run. One key aspect of the plan is that they don’t send you into the long run feeling fresh. Rather, the goal is to simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon, and “there’s nothing like a tempo run to put a little fatigue in your legs”.
That last point was a great reminder for me that there is a reason that I feel so fatigued and that the program is designed this way on purpose. So after my brief freakout session on whether I’d be able to do my runs this weekend, I went out for my Friday 6 miler and actually had a really good run. I think I knew I could do it, I just needed to be reminded why I don’t have those days off I was accustomed to having on the other plans I’ve followed.
As a side note, one thing this plan has made me appreciate more than ever is the people who created these two wonderful devices which are now my new best friends – The Stick, and the foam roller. I’m using these almost every day, and it’s helping tremendously. Using these devices and stretching a lot is helping me at least make sure that my muscles are ready for the next run, even if they may be incredibly fatigued.
More to come tomorrow in my Week 9 training update, but I have to end by mentioning that I’m excited that tomorrow marks the halfway point in my training! So far so good….here’s hoping for a great, healthy, second half.
Do you do tempo runs as part of your training? Any tips for dealing with the fatigue that comes with back to back days of running?
- Welcome to my blog! I’m Gina, an avid runner living in St. Louis, MO. Check out my blog for tips on running, swimming, race recaps, book reviews, and recipes! Follow me on twitter at @ginabhawalkar, or feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com. Thanks for reading!
Frostbite Series Half Marathon
Frostbite Series 15K
Feb 22nd - 23rd:
Ragnar Del Sol 200 mile relay
Quivering Quads Trail Half Marathon
St. Patrick's Day Parade Run
Wipro San Francisco Half Marathon