As I’ve mentioned I’m doing a challenge of 874 miles in 2021- that’s around an average of 120km a month across the year. A combination of my fitness, the weather and the dark nights meant I didn’t hit that in January and was a bit under in February. I’m also aware I could get injured or have to take time off at some point if I am ill later in the year so my plan is to increase my mileage in the months where I’m feeling fitter and the weather is nicer to allow myself an emergency buffer. As such I’m aiming for 200km in March – I’m currently on 64km eleven days in. What this means is running on tired legs some days. I always do a long run with my friend Hollie on a Wednesday night. She is faster than me so it is always a run that pushes me and I normally feel it in the legs the next day so often don’t run on a Thursday, but this month I need to to reach my goal so today I did 5km (3 miles) after last nights 13km (8 mile run).
Running on tired legs is a challenge but it’s also something you can teach yourself to do and if you re training for a marathon or endurance event it’s a good idea to consider doing some training on tired legs. Obviously it’s a balancing act of not over doing it (you want to increase mileage by no more than 10/20% a week), risking injury or making yourself run down by affecting your sleep, recovery etc. and building your endurance. Below are some tips I find useful to run on tired legs.
- Fuel well, don’t try and massively cut calories at the same time as increasing miles- this will make runs even harder. Carbs 30 minutes before a run always gives me a boost on tired days.
- Stretch- often. Legs may still feel tired but stiff tired legs are even less fun to run on.
- On long runs hydrate or take a gel before you feel like you need to. Waiting until you feel like you need it can make it much harder to keep going.
- Slow your pace on tired leg days. If you aim is endurance and getting the legs used to doing the miles you do not have to hit your best pace on every single run.
- Listen to your body, if you are tired, go slower. Running on tired legs can help you on race day as when you know you can run even tired it gives you the confidence to push past any fatigue on race day. The speed you run at in training on those tired days is irrelevant.
- Control your pace and don’t print down hills – a steady pace is much easier to maintain when tired than stop / start sprint / slow is.
- When your legs start to feel heavy think about lifting your foot a little higher, landing slightly softer with a heel to toe motion, this can help boost circulation and reduce impact making your legs feel better.
- Think about something else. I like to listen to audio books- mainly murder mysteries as I run, whatever distracts you from the fatigue.
- Of course if you start running and the legs feel pain instead of fatigue- stop. Learning your body and the difference between when you need to rest and when you ca challenge yourself is key to building up your own endurance when running.