Question for Marathoners


Now that the dust has settled from the Disney Marathon, I’m starting to look forward and plan some more races for this year. I did improve my time, but I didn’t quite reach my goals and overall, I feel like I could have been faster on race day.

Marathoners, this is my situation: My legs felt tired on the day of the marathon. They first started feeling heavy during miles 8-10. I was definitely tired around miles 13-14 and by the time I hit one of those epic climbs on a highway overpass at mile 16, I had to start walking a little bit, running a little bit for the rest of the race.

Nutrition-wise, I felt great. I didn’t get muscle cramps from dehydration. I didn’t hit the wall. I ate and drank everything they handed us and didn’t suffer any nausea or cramps from overdoing it.

Cardio-wise, I felt perfect. My heart rate and breathing were comfortable. If not for the muscle fatigue, I think I could have kept running forever and ever (like that montage in Forest Gump).

Knowing what I did right, it’s difficult for me to understand what I did wrong for my legs to feel so heavy that early into the race.

Any ideas?

17 thoughts on “Question for Marathoners

  1. Coming from someone who was required to run at one point, I got that a lot. You need to exercise those muscles more. It sounds like they aren’t used to what you were trying to make them do. My suggestion, do leg workouts and keep running. They’ll eventually strengthen up and they won’t get tired.

    🙂 Hope this helps

  2. Ive only done a half, but hope one day to do a full. I feel like my legs always hurt at the end regardless! 🙂 I think I may look to see what advice you get!

    • I haven’t gotten a ton of feedback on WordPress, but I’ve been back and forth with a lunatic that I know who does Ironmans and Ultras (I don’t even know how many miles past 26.2 he goes, but it’s a lot!).

      I’ve always viewed the training as being three parts: muscle, mental, and cardio. I know that my leg muscles are strong enough to take me past 16 miles, they just didn’t feel good that day and it messed with me mentally. Cardio was the most frustrating part, because I was in perfect aerobic heart rate and if it were up to my heart and lungs, I could have kept going on and on forever (or so it felt)!

      You can friend me on Facebook or just stalk my profile if you want: Brantley Newton.

      It’s shaping up to be a nutrition and end-of-training protocol issue.

  3. Big congrats on the marathon! When I was training for a marathon, my legs felt heavy around mile 15. I started doing yoga (but stretching of any kind would probably suffice) and this helped with my legs immensely. Might be worth a try!

  4. congratulations on your race. as a runner my legs tend to feel strong but there are times that I have felt like you describe. The leg issue may be what you do after your training routines. I often feel the need to walk it out a bit. but I am not an expert 🙂

  5. Almost Iowa

    All runners have good races and bad races; the trick is not to get over-confident after the good ones or let the bad ones shake your confidence. Who knows what went wrong, you may have been fighting off a flu-bug that you didn’t know about. Those things happen.

    I hope you keep a log. I ran 10 miles a day for 15 years, not easy to do during a Minnesota winter – but that log told me a lot. It tuned me into the peaks and dips of performance and revealed that there are factors that are beyond our perception and control.

    But take what I say with a grain of salt… my last marathon was the 100th running of the Boston… Now I just walk and trot around the block. My block is six miles around.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. I definitely know about good days and bad days from when I was a swimmer, I was just hoping to find some training and race prep details that I missed so I could limit the chances of having another bad day marathon!

      I do keep a log of my runs on my phone, but this time around I was helping my girlfriend train for her first half-marathon (at a slower pace), so there’s a lot of variance in performance based on time differences on runs that I did on my own and ones that I did with her.

  6. Hi Brantley,

    Although my husband is the running expert, I think I might know enough to drop you some leads. First, do you own a foam roller? If the answer is no, stop whatever you are doing and get one. If it makes you want to cry, you know you’re doing it right. Second, have you heard of KT tape? Stuff’s awesome. My husband looked like a Smurf ( we got the blue tape for his marathon) when I was done taping him up. It goes on pre-race, but they say to keep it on for at least a few days after, as it helps promote muscle repair, circulation, yadda, yadda. Third, coconut water: drink it. I know you mentioned no cramps or dehydration, but muscle performance isn’t solely about strength. Which leads me to number four, if you are not devoting a few days a week to leg-training, might be a good idea. Lunges, squats, that sort of thing. The stronger and stretched the better.

    That’s what I got, Brantley. I hope you’re having a fantastic week!

    P.S. All of my suggestions have been marathon and marathoner approved. 🙂
    ~ Cara

  7. Thanks for the tips! I’m already a huge believer in KT tape. I’ve got a foam roller that I’m not using nearly often enough.

    I’m very intrigued by the coconut water suggestion though. What are the benefits? I haven’t heard this one before.

    I will definitely need to strengthen my legs before trying another marathon. I’m convinced it was a muscle strength issue and not an endurance one. As I said, cardio-wise I felt like a million bucks!

    Another challenge were the hills in the race course. I did very minimal training with hills. Florida is so flat, it’s really hard to find a good hill!

    I appreciate the advice and suggestions. You’ve given me some more details to factor into my training for next time.

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