Marathon Running and Race Support
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Will my legs get used to the distance?

As you are probably aware I am on half marathon training, three runs a week on Monday 4-5 miles, Thursday long run (up to 9.3 miles so far) and Saturday parkrun 3.14 miles.

My long runs started at 6-7 miles as that was my run anyway so I did a 7.1mile, then a 7.3 mile, followed by a 5.1 mile Christmas week, then a 8.4 mile and now a 9.3 mile this week. My legs are not happy after 8.5 miles so 9.3 miles was a push. I did do a 10 mile run in October and my legs were knackered then too. Will my legs get stronger soon as I have to increase more distance for April (I have 2 weeks abroad with short runs in March). Prior to the run I eat a banana and biscuit with a decaf tea. On the run I had an isogel at 4.5 miles and 7.2 miles as I felt tired, breathing was fine. How can I improve?

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I know a lot of purists think it’s cheating but have you tried the ‘Run Walk Run’ method? I bought Jeff Galloways book and I’ll tell you what, it makes sense. Less chance of injury and better times 😊

At the end of the day, you’re trying to get from A to B as fast as you can and there’s nothing in the rule book that says you have to run the entire way! 🏃‍♀️🚶‍♀️🏃‍♀️🚶‍♀️

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I did have a short walk whilst eating gel but I may try a few more purposeful walks if I cannot get further

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Do you do any leg strengthening exercise? Are you getting enough sleep and is your exercise on point? I would look at those factors first, particularly if you are having to resort to gels after such short distances. Normally your body should have sufficient glycogen stores to fuel it for a good 18 miles or so.

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Mmm I have three children so I sleep as many hours as they allow! How do you mean about exercise on point? Running is my only exercise as I work three long 12.5hr days so have two days off in the week to run inbetween dealing with child related stuff/runarounds etc. I have just started looking at gels for the hm. I was running 10k without anything but I do get low sugars sometimes although not diabetic, hence a safeguarding tactic. I was doing squats for leg exercises, what would you suggest that I could do at home? I feel my legs need more strength.

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LOL I meant nutrition on point, not exercise. My brain not on point.

Which made the following bist make more sense too...

So how many hours do you sleep? I am a single parent of three children too and I seldom get enough sleep, and my training and recovery suffers as a consequence. The biggest causes of fatigue and muscle fatigue are inadequate sleep and nutrition not being dialled in. What do your macros look like?

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My sleep was a bit of a toss and turn with being woken at 2 and 4am by kid trips to toilet so not ideal. My diet tends to be boiled egg and ryvita for breakfast, banana and biscuit snack, lunch of ham and cheese wrap with carrot sticks, olives, grapes, strawberries and a pack of crisps. Pos an afternoon snack of muesli bar. Dinner is fish, veg, pots or chicken pasta in tomatos or chilli or prawn stir fry noodles. I have no idea on nutrition as a newbie runner to be fair. I drink decaf tea with soya milk or water with the odd glass of red wine 1 or 2 nights per week. Any advice would be great!

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Calculate your TDEE using an online calculator then track your calories for a week or two

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I'm a calorie "hawk" and that list of goodies does not add up to much, esprcially given the distances/time you are running?

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I ran today's calories through a calculator and it worked out as 1900. I supposedly get 1650 calorie allowance for height, weight and moderate activity. On run days I may eat more or the day after a long run.

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Ok I see! I suppose portions make all the difference! I eat healthily, just too much healthy stuff!

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I could do better 😉

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I'd be surprised if you weren't able to get used to the distance. Personally, I think you should eat a little more before you set out for your run. I don't eat much more, but I usually have a bowl of musli with yoghurt and some fruit.

Are you good at eating protein when you finish your run? They say that eating protein soon after is key to recovery - which I take to mean that it helps increase your strength.

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Afterwards it is lunchtime so I eat usually some beans and cheese on toast. Is that enough?

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How long before going out do you eat?

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Half an hour max. I usually have a small piece of cheese when I return, then lunch after I shower. I usually have cheese or pate on a slice of bread and salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado).

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I dont run your distances H, but when i run if I get to 7k, thereafter it is a real slog.... ( I am quite weighty so running takes a lot of energy). Tomas advised on this site to fuel from an early stage (i now do it from 3k onwards) and to take regular walks, he said when you are weary its too late. I took his advice and really could tell the difference. I now fuel with Dates and use electrolytes on my longer runs.

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I had seen this too so knowing I can fade at 6 or so miles I took an isogel (an isotonic gel/drink) at 4.5 miles and tried a second one after 7 miles. I did feel I had a bit more energy but my legs still felt tired and sluggish. Unless I am about to get a lurgy.......

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You could try fueling sooner and more often on your long runs, and walk a short while when you refuel. You will sort it 👍🏼

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Run walking is fine. Walk as often as you need to. As you run longer and longer you do need to walk more

I always run on porridge two hours before. 50g of dry oats made with water and maybe a teaspoon of honey or jam

Working long hours, and with three kids is tiring. You’re not Wonder Woman 🙂 There are only so many hours in a day

when I do a long run i do like some nourishing dinner I can literally shovel down, eg chilli,con carne with rice 😋

As you keep training, increasing distance bit by bit, you do get more and more used to it. I would take a snack too! Even if you don’t eat it, it’s comforting to know you have it if needs be, and something to look forward to with your energy drink a few Haribo’s are good

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I wonder if I was running at a quicker pace for the distance too. I went out for 8.4 miles with my daughter on her bike so we stopped a couple of times for fig biscuits and electrolyte water but she makes me run slower and I felt good after that run. So much to look at! I do love a good old chilli and rice, yummy! Tonight was sausges, mash and veg.

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I have sossies on the menu tomorrow. Mash and broc I think 😋

Fig rolls are good! I like the Lidl Individiually wrapped snacks from their Greek Eridanous range. Pistachio or sesame bites. Just the right size, and being individual wrapped, don’t turn your hands and pockets into a sticky mess They come in a larger bag with loads in and last ages if you stash em out of sight 😁

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Might be a trip to Lidl coming on, thank you.

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Personally I think its really important to track your weekly mileage when you are training and stick to the 10% rule always. Also every 4 weeks have a week where you do very little as your body will need it. Well done you are doing really well :)

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So my weekly mileage was ticking along at 10-12 miles on 2 runs a week but have now changed to 3 runs a week. So wk1 was 10.2miles, wk2 10.6 miles, wk3 Xmas 5.1 miles cut back, wk4 15.7 miles 3 runs and wk5 16.8 miles 3 runs. I envisage staying at this mileage for a few weeks before moving up again with a 4 mile run, a 9 mile run and a 3 mile run. Is that too much?

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I've also started training for a HM and am not following a set plan but was trying to make my own since I can only get 3 runs in, at most, per week (and 2 runs per week on the weeks where I work the weekend). My research suggests to only increase the long run by no more than 10% of the previous weeks total mileage and the longest run should only be 30-50% of the that week's total weekly mileage. In order to achieve this as the long runs get longer, means increasing the mid distance (and I'm finding the shorter run too so the midstance run doesn't become too long). I found when I reached 12k, I got light headed. I also battle with low blood sugars so started carrying Tailwind solution with me on any run over an hour. I can't run and drink without wearing it so I have to walk to take a sip (I'm walking for just long enough to take a sip - 30 seconds at most, I'd say). I've been doing this every 2-3k starting at about 3k and has been working well for me. Mind you, I've only had a 13k and 14.5k run following this strategy. Both times, I felt really great after and actually felt I could've continued on. I've also taken to using my r8 recovery roller on my legs as soon as I get home from my run and later that night. I found my legs with weren't even stiff after my 14.5 k run. As ju-ju- mentioned, taking a recovery week is recommended every 3-4 weeks. Drop the longest run by up to 30% on these weeks, although in all honesty, I do this week on my weekends I work so lose a run, which is my recovery. I'm incredibly new to this longer distance running but wanted to let you know what I've come across and what seems to be working for me so far.

I've also been putting a few mars bar bites in my fuel belt in case my sugars feel dangerously low (I'm not diabetic either). Someone on this forum mentioned using them on their runs. I don't know if I could eat them while running, but ate them in the cooldown walk (my little treat). I'm thin so not worried about weight and am more concerned about my sugar levels, especially because I have to drive home after these runs.

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I run to a plan so I don’t run too much! You can overdo things if you have no idea what a structured plan looks like It’s important no to overdo it or come race day you will either be fatigued or injured

You can always get yourself a plan so you have the bare bones of a plan for a specific distance. You don’t have to do it exactly but it’s a good starting point if you’re unsure 🙂

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I was on the asics plan but the run distances were all over the place, 4.5 miles 8.5 miles 6.5 miles 11 miles etc, I seem to run varying mileage week to week and did not seem to build up the distance gradually. I think my legs are not so happy with three runs a week but I am trying it as advised on here. I have no idea what I am doing now 🤔

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Oh dear, don't worry!

I was puzzled by what you said about MyAsics, as it's always seemed pretty solid to me. Just had a look, and I see what you mean! It seems to have gone a bit potty, so don't worry about it any more.

Your plan to carry on to 4/9/parkrun looks fine to me - keep the 4 and 9 milers slow and use the parkrun for a bit of speed/race training (I'm sure that I'm telling you what you already know there!). Increase the long runs gradually, as discussed. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THEM :) For myself, I only got to 16km* before doing my first half marathon, and I got round ok, even with an injured knee. No, I am not a shining example ;) I recommend not injuring your knee, and getting closer to the 21k if possible, but if you don't it's no problem. Take the race day easily - walking through all the water stations is a good plan.

Tired legs: Sounds like you are lacking sleep - I'm afraid you'll just have to wear that :( You are grieving too, which can't help. But to answer your original question YES your legs will get stronger if you persevere. Repetition is key, for this and most things in life, if you want to become better at something. It's hard going, seems impossible sometimes, but it is SO rewarding!!

If you are really struggling on any run, it is ok to stop, have a break, go home if you want. Tomorrow is another day :)

Food: There's a link to a typical online Total Energy Expenditure calculator below. It is trial and error really, you need to figure out personally how best to fuel your runs. It sounds as though you like to take a gel or two with you, and that's fine. It could be that down the road you will figure out a different way of fueling yourself. I'm just doing a bit of figuring myself at the moment (I find myself unreasonably tired after runs at the moment!), and I've fired up the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to keep a food diary. Maybe this is something you'd like to try? It does produce statistics that will tell you you're not having enough - or too much! - of one or other "macro" (macro nutrients = protein, carbohydrate, and fat), for which guidelines are available from many sources, not least the NHS (although they will be naturally be rather generalised). The information the app will give you about total energy intake (in kcal) may be the most useful to you at first.

tdeecalculator.net/

myfitnesspal.com/

*Sorry about the mixture of imperial and metric!

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Thank you so much for your reply. I think after looking over these replies I am wondering if the third run a week and the increase in the long distance has made my legs tired. I am hoping that they can adapt to the extra demand but I will keep my long run as it is for a few weeks of adjustment. I probably am tired, particularly today, as I have been tossing and turning with a sore back and interrupted by kids. I guess this is normal for me. I have checked out the my fitness app and I seem fairly spot on. I will monitor this over a few weeks though, thank you.

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Good, sounds like you know what's going on, although I'm sorry to hear about the backache.

All the best for the next few weeks :)

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