Q+A: I get sore if I increase my training. Help!

Our experts answer real-life questions

Posted: 9 September 2002
by Bud Baldaro

Q. I train four to five times a week, including hills and a couple of interval sessions. However, each time I increase my training, by even a modest distance or pace, my muscles are too stiff and sore to undertake the next day’s session. What can I do?

A. You need to ask yourself if you’re allowing your body sufficient time to recover. Your body needs rest after hard runs so that it can mend the micro-traumas to your muscles, and restock its glycogen stores. The common advice from most coaches is to follow a hard session with an easy session or a complete rest. I’d say it’s worth considering leaving two days between hard sessions. That could either be two days of easy running, or one day of easy running and one of complete rest. You should also make sure that you run off-road as often as possible. The repetitive impact of hard surfaces is a sure way to get sore muscles. In particular, try to do your speed sessions on a forgiving surface such as grass.

The real key is in listening to your body and not in sticking to a set schedule. If, after a speed session or some hillwork, you feel tired or sore, it is your body telling you to take it easy. Trying to run through it is only likely to leave you feeling worse or cause an injury.

Before a run, make sure that you warm up with gentle jogging (and cool down the same way afterwards). This will help get your muscles prepared for the work they’re about to do. Regular stretching – particularly after a session – will improve your flexibility, which should in turn reduce those muscle aches. On those days where you do feel sore, but you still want to exercise, consider cross-training. Low-impact sports, such as cycling and swimming, work different muscles from running, but will still help your endurance.

Something else you should consider, if finances allow, is a regular appointment with a sports masseur – especially after long runs or tough interval sessions. A massage will certainly relax you, and may cut recovery time, flush out the toxins that cause muscle stiffness, and help relieve muscle pain.

Bud Baldaro, coach and RW Contributing Editor

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Discuss this article

What is your PB for different races e.g. 1500m 5000m 10000m marathon, half marathon!?
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 21:39

Have many people ever done a 1500m?
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 21:50

10k 47-25, 1/2m 1-47-25. How does that help?
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 21:51

I've done a 1500m twice (very badly: 4:45 and 4:53) and even an 800m (slightly better I think - 2:14.4) once, within the last 10 years. Very painful but made an interesting change.

PBs down to 5K are recorded on the URWFRC site by all and sundry.
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 22:28

No idea;21 mins; 39.06; 3.17.20; 1.30.24 10 miles 69.54;
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 23:21

Thanet 20, knocked 39 minutes of last years time to do it in 2.54.
FLM 2002 - 4.26 (first and only marathon.
Others not worth mentioning
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 23:21

None of mine worth mentioning
except to myself
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 10:11

Jim, an excellent 10k time in comparrison with your other times. Do you prefer 10ks or did run that time when paticulary fit?
My 10k time is 39.10 and the others 65.00 1.26.30 and 3.12.54. Which seems to fit in with this race calculator


Posted: 08/03/2003 at 10:39

10k - 40:12
10mile - 69.04
halfM -1:36:02 (will be lower after next Sunday's race)
Marathon - 3:31:02

Haven't run 800/1500 since I was at school (in the early 80s) , times were around 2:20 and 5:00 from memory. Love to do them now to see how I'd shape up!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 11:47

Hello guys, 5k 19:20
10k 38:44
10 miles 1:06:40
1/2M 1:88:11
marathon 3:09:37
50km 4:22
100km 10:15:57
24 hours 108.7 miles

The sad thing is I didn't have to look up any of them!!!!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 12:57

Wish I could do a 1-88 half

Heh heh !!!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 13:05

For me PB stands for Pathetic Bumbling. Very very slow indeed!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 14:10

Mine are also very slow, but determined to get a PB over all the distances this year.

5k - 26 mins
10k - 54 mins
1/2m - 2hrs 12
marthn - 5hrs 31

Used to be PB's 20 odd years ago ... reminisce ;-)
800 2mins 14
400m 63 secs
1500m 5mins 40ish
3000m 13 mins something
all too long ago.
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 16:17

A guy I met at a track session once said "A pb ist just the time you have until you run the distance again".
So here are my ones:

10k: 52'48''
10m: 1h 26'11''
1/2M: 1h 50'34''

So far I have done every distance just once, but tomorrow I will do another 1/2M pb, I hope.
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 16:25

Hi guys, next month is my first year with Springburn Harriers. My personal bests are

5k: 17:47
10k: 38:40
5M: 32:46
10M: 1,08,00
1/2Mar 1,34,14

Just enjoying training

Posted: 08/03/2003 at 16:47

10k 37.31 Half 1.28.03
Never done any of the other distances on road.
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 17:09

Only ever done one race!
1/2M: 1:46:27!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 17:25

Bloody Hell Meggles.

Thats a good time for a one and only half marathon.

Fancy choosing a hm for a first race as well.

Mad as a badger!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 18:00

Daisy Duke - impressed with those 400 and 800 times!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 18:09

Hi all,

2k steeple chase - 9:30
3k steeple chase - 13:00 (hit barrier, went swimming - twice but finished for the points:)
5k (road) - 20:30
10k (road) - 45:19
1/2M - 1:38:12

My goal for this year is to go under 20mins for the 5k and get as close to 1hr30mins for the half-marathon as I can. Oh and to not get roped into doing anymore track steeple chases!

Posted: 08/03/2003 at 20:05

10k : 45 ish mins
half marathon: 1.39.59
marathon: 3.14.48 (5 years ago), but more recent pb is 3.30.44

Posted: 08/03/2003 at 20:15

Don't think I've run a pb since 1983 and everyone knows they couldn't measure courses accurately in those days.

My best 1/2 marathon since hitting 60 was 1:29 and a bit at Lake Vyrnyw in 2000. I've progressed rapidly downhill since then.

Posted: 08/03/2003 at 20:30

Running downhill doesn't count BO.
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 20:44

1500m - 4:48, maybe (1988)
3000m - 9:34 (1988)
half marathon - 1:28:00 (1996)
marathon - 3:12:29 (2002)

hoping to have to update that last one really soon...

Posted: 08/03/2003 at 21:06

Fluffa, you realise your pace over the full marathon is actually better than your 1/2 marathon pace. You crazy woman!

My one and only race was the Silverstone 1/2 and managed 1hr 55mins and 11secs.

My goal is to beat Meggles PB - Can't let a woman beat me!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 21:10

A flying Boing goes to DavidB for todays funniest message!

Although I may take it back as I've spilt half my pasta on myself as I was readig his message!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 21:12

the secret lies in my marathon pb being 5 years ago, and my 1/2pb in silverstone last week.....although my 1/2 pb before that was from the 2nd half of a marathon, and i only managed to beat it by 1 second last week ;)
i'd never raced a 1/2 before, and my conclusion is they're horrid painful things...definitely need more miles to get into the swing of things....same goes for 10k!
Posted: 08/03/2003 at 22:25

half marathon, 1:23:15 (Glasgow)
marathon ..only done one..3:25:09 (Stockholm)
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:11

3K - 12.26
10K - 45.39
1/2M - I'll know this week

I fancy racing a 5K, 10 Mile and Marathon sometime this year just to complete the set before my knees give up on me.
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:34

10m - 60.22
1/2M - 1.23.19
Marathon - 2.57.30

Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:45

Scouse, are you doing FLM? I could challenge you there if you're up for it!!!
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:45

Two Dogs - Don't think I didn't spot your half marathon time by the way!
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:46

RichardM, I was just thinking, my best can't be better than yours can it?
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:48

I think you must have spent most of your time in Stockholm checking out the Swedish ladies.
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 10:54

well..they were very distracting!
Posted: 10/03/2003 at 11:28

pb are as follows
10k : 50 mins (hoping to beat at 10k race in Manchester on Bank Holiday Monday 26th May) sure I can beat it but can never seem to get the right pace - have been doing speedwork from Runners World training schedule and seem to be going faster...
10 miles : 1 hr 24
half marathon : 1 hr 48
5 miles : 38 mins
Posted: 20/05/2003 at 19:03

5k : 18.44
10k : 38.30
1/2 : 1:26
mara : 3:30 (very bad winds)
Posted: 20/05/2003 at 19:35


Quite inconsistent.
Posted: 20/05/2003 at 20:49

5K: 20.00
10K: 42.19
1/2: 1.33.51
Mara: 3.28.48
Posted: 20/05/2003 at 20:56

Did one 1500 race for the club last summer - 4:42

1 mile race - 5:06 (poor performance) (June 2002)

3000m - 10:02 (March 2003)
5k - 16:56 (June 2002)
5 mile - 27:58 (Feb 2003)
10k (road) 35:08 (May 2003)
10 mile- 59:10 (Feb 2003)
Half - 76:25 (Jan 2003)
Marathon - 2:49:38 (April 2003)

I reckon they're all there for the taking this year except perhaps the half marathon as that was one of those magic days everything came right.

Posted: 20/05/2003 at 20:58

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