Can anyone run big miles per week?

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NAB777
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Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by NAB777 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:20 am

Simple question...
I am 42, back in triathlons for a couple of years, and my biggest run week ever is 51kms (31.5 miles).

Invariably, I can't run 40kms per week for more than about 5-6 weeks before I get injured - normally achilles tendonitis.

How.. how... how... do I get to the point where I can run consistent km's without breaking down?

Thanks..
Nick

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:57 am

If you keep getting injured in the achilles then you have a weakness or imbalance some where and need to determine what it is and correct it.

My cap used to be 60 miles a week and whenever I went over 60 miles (and it would only be by a few miles) for about 4 or 5 weeks then I would get injured and be out a couple of months.  When I first started running it was hip problems and ITB which I corrected by lifting weights and strengthening the hips.  I would do squats, deadlifts, bulgarian split squats, step ups, and GHR's a couple of times a week which corrected the problem. 

Then the problems migrated down to my ankles in which I would get tendonitis and started every run in pain and lived off of advil.  I tried every exercise under the sun to try and correct to no avail.  The one exercise that I didn't do was single leg balancing which ended up correcting the problem.  Come to find out, I had weak feet which was causing the problems and single leg balancing strengthened them as well as the ankles.  To give you an idea of how well it has worked is I have averaged almost 80 miles a week for the last 20 weeks and have had no problems.  Over the last 12 weeks I averaged 87 miles per week including 1 to 2 quality sessions a week.  I used to only run 5 days a week and am now running 7 days a week as well and am primarily running on asphalt where I used to primarily run on softer dirt trails (Towpath).

You may want to start with strengthening your calves.  I do heavy weighted calf raises.  I hardly ever have my achilles or calves bark at me and I think doing weight work is the reason why.  My recommendation would be to do a full body weight work out focusing on functional lifts for the most part.  This way you will ensure that all weaknesses and imbalances are corrected.  You may also want to do a lot of foam rolling as well.  Don't just do the calves and work on the whole lower body.  I also use the stick to roll before and after every run and it only takes a couple of minutes.  I have found that I don't need to stretch if I roll and it does a good job of warming up the muscles.

Determining root cause can be tough as I know.  I have tried everything many times over to find what works for me, although this can be time consuming and frustrating.  You may want to consider professional help to assess the situation.

Good luck.

Dave

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by FTIR » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:01 am

Can you tell us more about the problem?  What does "back in triathlons" mean?  How long did you take off?  What did you do before?

Where do you run now, sidewalks, grass, roads, trails?  How much do you weigh?  How tall are you?  How many days/times a week do you run?

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by runthe8 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:47 am

I agree with Dave.  I too struggled with chronic injuries (nothing too major at first, just little aches and pains) but as I got older, they turned into plantar fasciitis, bad chondromalacia, morton's neuroma, piriformis problems, and on and on.  I think especially once we hit middle age we need to work double time on our 'chassis', not just our 'engine' as Jay Dicharry says in his excellent book, Anatomy for Runners, which you should probably get your hands on.  You need to figure out why you have these issues, do the work to strengthen the weak areas, maybe look at your gait and make corrections to that, and then I bet you will be able to run more.  I know when Tinman coached me a few years back, I told him I could NEVER run 7 days a week, could NEVER do more than 20 miles a week anymore, that I would be injured for sure.  I have found that I actually stay healthier when I DO run every day, as long as I am diligent about doing my strength work to ward off injuries.  And my mileage is still not high, but I can handle around 30 miles a week consistently, which is more than I thought I could do.

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:55 am

runthe8,

Anatomy for runners is what helped me the most.  That is how I found out about my feet and since doing the recommended single leg balancing (eyes closed and on a wobble board), my problems went away.  I am 49 and thought any thoughts of high mileage were gone and right now I have never felt better.  I don't feel beat up anymore.

Dave

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by FTIR » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:14 am

To join the choir, I too had a minor running injury which started when I was about 33.  It started as ITBS and knee tracking problems.  I did a huge variety of exercises and "solved" that problem in 8 short years of running on and off like you seem to be doing.  Then, I got serious and ran 30 mpw in the winter and 50 mpw (with highs in the 70s) in the summer for maybe 3 years.  The last 3 years, other weaknesses have caused siatic nerve issues which haven't really cut my mileage much but have made running fast dangerous as my leg can just lock up.  This winter I seem to have finally figured the move/stretch that solves the problem.

Without knowing more about you, I would suggest that two things will help for sure.  The first as runthe8 said is to run every day, it keeps things working and warmed up.  It is better to run 2 miles a day 7 days a week than 4 miles per day 4 days per week.  Once you can run 7 x 2 miles you can up the distance, slowly, on only 2 days to even 10 miles each to get to 30 miles per week.

The second is variety.  You need to constantly change things up.  Run on hilly routes.  Run on flat routes.  Run clockwise and counterclockwise circles on grass in your nearest park.  Run backwards (look it up, it can work miracles).  Run fast, run slow, skip, run with high knees, go to a football field and run zig-zag patterns to learn how to turn.  Just start each new move slowly and build up the amount you do slowly.

Specific strength and stretching can help after the fact but I have never had much luck doing them for prevention.

Good luck.

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by Jim » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:48 am

I've been working with a personal trainer for over a year now and she has helped me strengthen up a lot of weak areas like my core, posterior chain and hips.  The single leg balancing Dav wrote about is awesome, as are single leg squats and deadlifts and lots of planks. 

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:18 am

One other item that may help.  I used to run in one pair of shoes.  Now I rotate between 4 different models which I think helps combat repetitive injuries as you get different feels.  Through the process I found that I am really liking the transitional minimalist shoes (Kinvara, Virrata, GoRun2) and they are very flexible.  Since I am a heavy supinator and have high rigid arches,  having a shoe that allows my foot to move how it wants helps a lot.

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by NAB777 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:39 pm

Hi all, thanks for the replies.
Dave- I like what you are saying. I am seeing a good sports doctor tomorrow morning, so I will discuss this with him. Also - the shoe thing might need to be looked at.
FTIR - Background as below.
Runthe8 - 30 miles per week would be a dream for me - that is more than I need to do for triathlons, particularly as I am going back to short course next year :)

A brief background (which I should have done in Post # 1..!)

5k PB - 18.30
10k PB - 39.16
Half Mara - 1.27.13
Endurance has never been my specialty, because I never ran enough..! I was running ~30k per week when I set the above times, and was 28/29 at the time. My goal is to get back down to around 20-21 for 5k & low 42-43 for 10.

I competed in shorter triathlons back in the 90's, and finished up in early 2000, partly due to bursitis in the left achilles, and also because I was 'over it'..

Basically from 2001-2010, the training was 'sporadic' at best.. No consistency - pretty much because I had no goals :)
I started running 'properly' again in 2006 (for a while), but had calf tightness six times in ~ two years (which felt like calf strains, only they weren't).

From May 07 to June 10, I ran 1700kms (~1000 miles) in total. It was at that point (5'11" & 187 lbs vs 156lbs now) that I signed up to do an Ironman in March 2011, and I managed to get through 1150kms in the next 9 months. This was all done with a very gradual build - I started at 14kms per week, and ended up having 51k as my biggest week, 27k as my longest run. I got through the race, but ended up with achilles tendonitis.

I signed up to do another Ironman in 2012, because it was announced that there would be one in my home town of Melbourne. I had a delayed start to this build, but was still conservative with my running. After 4 months I was up to 30kms per week, and developed tendonitis again - which meant six weeks off. At that point, I had 14 weeks to race day, so whilst still building gradually, I had to cram a bit, and ended up with tendonitis (peroneal this time). I managed 820kms in 8 months this time - 45k as my biggest week, 25k as my biggest run.

I signed up again for Melbourne 2013, and again had a bit of a delayed start, but all was ok until about 4 weeks out, when my achilles started flaring up. I ended up not running in the last week before the race, hoping that I would be able to get through. Unfortunately, other issues meant that I didn't finish the bike, so I didn't get a chance to run. Biggest week - 46k. Biggest run - 27k.

After such a long time training, I wanted to at least finish a triathlon, so I signed up for a local sprint race yesterday, and had a good swim & bike, and basically jogged the run (high 24's for 5k). The achilles coped ok during the run, but I am very sore today (limping for about 10 steps when I get up from the desk).

All of these Ironman builds contained 3-4 runs per week.

Since I started training for IMNZ 2011 (in May/June of 2010), I have been getting massaged every 3 weeks.

I'll have a chat to the doc & physio this week & see what happens.

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by NAB777 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:08 pm

Update..

I visited the doc this morning, and he told me that I had a haglund, which may be interfering with the achilles, hence the inflammation whenever I run a lot. I was referred to a medical imaging centre (got in straight away), and had an ultra sound, where it was determined that my achilles is pretty beaten up - there are some torn fibres & degeneration (mainly athletic wear & tear).. I had some blood withdrawn & spun, then injected back into the tendon.

So for now... it's a month of to see if the plasma inhection heals the torn fibres, then back to the doc for assessment.

Worst case scenario is an operation to shave the bone. Best case is a long, slow build up.

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by Wellpark » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:31 am

That's tough NAB777.

Better to have a sound diagnosis and something concrete to work on though, than years of guess work. Every athlete I know that has had a sound/treatable diagnosis following injury has made a swif recovery and gone on to achieve, beyond their expectations.

I hope this resolves things for you initially, as you will then have a sound foundation to use some of the advice above.

I 2nd the low mileage 7 days as better than running longer 4 days. However once running regular without any niggles or fatigue at 2-3 mile distances, keep training days consistent and gradually mix up tempo and distance. You won't have to go much beyond 30 miles/week to get some remarkable results if you are doing it right!

All the best

Wellpark

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by dkggpeters » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:20 pm

Hopefully the plasma injection helps with the recovery.  In order to run again wouldn't you need the bone shaved in order to prevent the problem from re-ocurring?  I know absolutely nothing about Haglund's except that it is a "bony enlargement on the back of the heel."

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by BoilerTom90 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:56 pm

[quote="dkggpeters"]
Hopefully the plasma injection helps with the recovery.  In order to run again wouldn't you need the bone shaved in order to prevent the problem from re-ocurring?  I know absolutely nothing about Haglund's except that it is a "bony enlargement on the back of the heel."
[/quote]

I had a mild case of this last summer. I was told by the specialist I saw that only in severe cases would you need to have the bone shaved.  The Dr also mentioned that many people have Haglunds to some degree, and it's mainly a problem when the bursa gets inflammed. The remedy for me was quite simple. I need to make sure I thoroughly stretch my achilles and calves before running to avoid that initial pulling.  It was that initial pulling of the achilles on the heel bone that caused the bone to begin pertruding in the first place.

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Re: Can anyone run big miles per week?

Post by NAB777 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:31 pm

[quote="BoilerTom90"]
[quote="dkggpeters"]
Hopefully the plasma injection helps with the recovery.  In order to run again wouldn't you need the bone shaved in order to prevent the problem from re-ocurring?  I know absolutely nothing about Haglund's except that it is a "bony enlargement on the back of the heel."
[/quote]

I had a mild case of this last summer. I was told by the specialist I saw that only in severe cases would you need to have the bone shaved.  The Dr also mentioned that many people have Haglunds to some degree, and it's mainly a problem when the bursa gets inflammed. The remedy for me was quite simple. I need to make sure I thoroughly stretch my achilles and calves before running to avoid that initial pulling.  It was that initial pulling of the achilles on the heel bone that caused the bone to begin pertruding in the first place.
[/quote]

Thanks for this - I am playing a waiting game for the next 3-4 weeks until I see the doc again, and hopefully my case is only mild too.
My expectations are pretty low - I doubt I will go back to Ironman, but I would love to be able to run even 20 miles per week..

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