Coach Jeff

Written by Coach Jeff


Trying to run through injuries: Lessons from an elite runner

This week I’m demonstrating  a couple of the better training weeks I have put together. They also didn’t really go anywhere. This was supposed to be a base phase for a big fall half marathon or marathon. I was carrying an injury into this cycle, and although I was getting through the training, I wasn’t getting healthy.

I essentially had no fall season. The point is the training looks good and it made me feel good about what I was putting in the log blog, but the reality was it wasn’t what I needed at the time. I see many runners with this same exact problem – lots of workouts and mileage that makes their training log look impressive, but is ineffective (or in my case detrimental) to actually getting faster and making long-term progress. Training for the sake of training isn’t a smart approach, especially when you have an injury.


This is two weeks of active late base training. There are three to five hard efforts a week. I touch on a bunch of different energy systems each week. The volume is pretty high, but none of the workouts are very hard efforts in an anaerobic way. Most of the workouts in this stretch are aerobic intervals. It was partially to try and get more efficient at faster speeds and as a concession to the injury I had that made longer steady running difficult.

Again, this isn’t bad training. In fact, I hope you get some good ideas out of it. That said, the overriding reason for showing this is to remind everyone that no matter how good the plan is, if you aren’t taking care of your injuries and your recovery, you are setting yourself up for problems down the line. Better to arrive at the start line of your goal race a bit under prepared and healthy than follow the “perfect” schedule but arrive hurt at the start or not be able to start at all.

The Training

July 19 to 25, 2010

AM Phillips/Holt Hill 10, 1:05:33 tot. 10
PM 8 shakeout, 1:03:51, mostly with Melissa, tot. 8
XT got PT, stretching, shin drills, concentric calves

AM 3+ warm up, to track, 24:22, strides, 200m in 30.31, jogging then 9x1600m with 400m jog rest (stretching on 3rd to last one too), Very hot, wanted 10 but overall was happy with the effort considering the conditions, 4:57(1:43), 4:56(1:45), 4:56(1:52), 4:55(1:58), 4:54(1:49), 4:54(1:55), 4:58(1:54), 4:58(1:5on.1), 4:59- 59:23.11 for 11 miles running with rests including rests (about 5:23 per mile average), 9 miles of work in 44:30- rest for almost 5 mins – mainly walking to get drink and trying to cool off, 3+ cool down, 23:22, tot. 18
PM Phillips Campus 7 shakeout solo, 51:14, tot. 7
XT stretching, single leg squats, concentric calves, verdun GS 1×10

AM Phillips/Holt Hill 10, 1:07:19, tot. 10
PM Road 10 or so in Keene, NH, 1:03:21, tot. 10
XT stretching, single leg squats

AM Phillips campus 6 solo shakeout, 45:02 tot. 6
PM 3 warm up, stretching, strides including a 30second hard effort, Race Sapienza 4 mile (according to the future father in law who measured the course said it might be 4.1), 1st place 19:56, it was hilly but the weather was great 86 degrees but low humidity, it felt very, very nice. Splits 4:39, (mile 1 was mostly downhill (about 1200m down then last 400m up hill), 9:38( 4:58)- second mile rolling, 14:32(4:54- looking at course thought this mile would be the slowest, mostly up hill) last mile 5:24- only had one 400m hill, but it was real steep and it may have been long. 3 cool down after tot. 11
XT stretching, single leg squat

AM Phillips/Holt Hill 10, solo/tired, 1:08:08 tot. 10
PM Phillips campus 7, drills and 40m strides, and 2x100m HARD with 100m jog rest, 14.2 and 13.9( both with flying start), tot. 7
XT stretching, single leg squats, concentric calves, drills 2x each for about 40m with jog back then 40 to 60m stride then jog back, A skip, butt kicks, high knees, fast feet

AM 3+ warm up to track, 23:51, light drills, then 200m in 32.64, jogging then 30x100m on the minute all at 14 except a couple in 13, VERY HUMID, 3 cool down in 22:09, tot. 8+
PM 7 mostly w/ Melissa, except while she did drills, also mixed in a 100m with her in 16, tot. 7
XT stretching, single leg squats, concentric calves

AM Road 1:45:28- very hot/humid. Was going to do 10 but missed a few turns and ended up going 15+, tot. 15+
PM 8 or so shakeout mostly around Phillips fields while Melissa worked out, 1hr flat. tot. 8
XT stretching, single leg squats, concentric calves

Summary 134 miles for week, 1 ok race, two solid workouts.

July 26 to August 1, 2010

AM 3+ warm up, 23:51, to Phillips track. cooler today, 80 with only 50% humidity, but it was pretty windy. Strides, then a 200m in 30.25, then a 400 jog, light stretch, then 10x400m (goal 69) with 100m jog rest- did a 500m on the last one just so I could cover 5k for the whole workout. Quads were still sore and very tired from the 100′s last week. 68.96(26.15), 69.06(27.00), 69.57(24.33), 68.51(24.16), 69.43(24.79), 69.40(25.21), 68.77(23.67), 69.04(22.12), 69.75(23.66), 69.99- 17.67- (1:27.66 for 500m)- 15:31.24 for 5000m of running. 200m walk, then 3+ cool down, 22:35, tot. 10+
PM Phillips campus 7 with Melissa, 55:45, tot. 7
XT P.T., stretching, single leg squats, shin drills, concentric calf raises

AM Phillips/Holt Hill 10 solo, 1:09:30, tired, tot. 10
PM road 6 in North Andover( we are house/dog sitting), 46:00 tot. 6
XT stretching, single leg squat, concentric calf raises, 2×5 new core thing for PT, GS verdun routine 1×10

AM VERY TIRED- in need of sleep- 3+ warm up to track, 23:48, strides, 200m in 30.78. 400 jog, warm but not hot- 85 when I headed out, 90 when I got back to the house, but humidity was only in the 40% range. 8x1k with 400m jog rest, goal 2:55- decided not to slow goal for conditions, basically I was tired and cranky. 2:54.83(1:50.09), 2:56.34(1:46.57), 2:55.69(1:47.90), 2:55.78(1:48.31 with stretch because hammy was going on that one), 2:56.07(1:53.84), 3:00.92(1:57.20), 2:59.72(1:54.57), 2:57. 50- 10,800m of running in 36;35(5:27 mile pace) 8k of work 23:35.85, 2 min recover then 3+ cool down, 23:00 tot. 14
PM 7 shakeout, mostly around Phillips fields, solo, 54:26 tot. 7
XT stretching, single leg squats, 2×10 pt exercise

AM Phillips/Holt Hill 10, solo, 1:07:17, tot. 10
PM Phillips Campus 7 shakeout with Melissa, 55:42 tot. 7
XT stretching, single leg squats, concentric calf raises, 5×10 of pt exercise

AM 3+ warm up, 23:48, strides, 200m in 29.12, 400m jog, very nice out 75 degrees, 47% humidity, only a light breeze, 5000m tempo on track, 14:54.90- splits- 1k-2:59.51, 2k-5:59.11(2:59.61), 3k- 9:00.56(3:01.45), 4k- 11:59.49(2:58.93), 14:54.90(2:55.41), 200m walk then 3+ cool down, 22:43 tot. 10+
PM Phillips campus 7 shakeout with Melissa, 55:26, tot. 7
XT stretching, single leg squats, 5×10 PT exercises, concentric calves, shin drills

AM Phillips Campus 7 with Melissa, stopped after 43 mins for drills and strides including 2x100m all out with a 100m walk in between tot. 7+
PM road 10 in North Andover, 1:11:08 tot. 10+
XT stretching, single leg squats, 5×10 pt exercises, drills 2x30m each followed by jog back and a 40 to 50m stride and a walk back recovery, A-skip, butt kicks, high knees, fast feet

AM 27 min warm up, mostly with Melissa, 24K fartlek around Phillips fields 2k loop- 1:19:07(5:18.3 mile pace), 2k splits- 6:31.76, 6:31.72, 6:30.93, 6:25.22(8k- 25:59.63), 6:24.94(10k-32:24.57), 6:33.22, 6:43.66, 6:35.15(16k-52:16.62), 6:40.95, 6:42.19(20k- 1:05:39), 6:39.52, 6:47.98(1:19:07), bit over a mile cool down back to house in 10 mins tot. 19++
XT stretching, single leg squats, concentric calf raises, 5×10 PT exercises

Summary 124 miles for week, four good workouts, a lot of good quality.

What you can take from this for your own running

Workouts at comparatively slow paces

In the months around this training I ran a 14:01 5k and a 29:32 10k on a rolling road course, 4:30 and 4:45 pace respectively. The 400s session is run at around 10k pace. The miles are at half marathon to marathon pace. They are not nearly as fast as you will often see people running. The idea of intervals in a base phase isn’t to run them as hard or as fast as you can but instead to run them in as relaxed a manner as you can. Make a quick pace easy. Make a quick pace aerobic.

Making intervals aerobic for bigger bang

The next thing that you can emulate is how the overall pace of the workouts is pretty quick, 90 to 100% of marathon pace, with the rest intervals included. This is one of the biggest things you can do to get more out of your workouts. Pick up the pace of your rests. Do shorter rests. The difference between a race and intervals isn’t that the intervals aren’t fast enough, it is that you take breaks during the intervals. The rest is what makes the workout—make your rest count.

Just because it looks good in the log doesn’t mean it is what you should be doing

No matter how good it looks on paper, in planning, or even in action, if training isn’t balanced properly with the reality of your body, your recovery rate, and your current fitness, it isn’t worth the paper it is on. The history of running is full of stories of great performances off less then perfect training that was the compromise, due to injury,  that athlete needed at that time. It is equally full of stories of unbelievably impressive training that led only to injury and under performance. Always remember—training is a means to an end, not an end itself.

In short, never try to train through an injury. While you may still be able to log impressive workouts, it very often leads to injuring yourself even longer than you need to and poor race results as a consequence. Listen to your body and remember a few days off from running won’t ruin your fitness.

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