Training questions

Do you have questions about training?  Post your questions here for PGRC’s coaches, personal trainers, and other club members.  Answers welcome too 😉

14 Responses

  1. Hey folks, I think this is the web section we recently talked about. The idea is for you to put in your questions and one or more of the rest of the club can provide an answer. It may also generate some discussion as we all have different takes (even or especially the coaches) on what to do.

    An alternate is to email me privately at bobg AT If you don’t want your name mentioned, it won’t be. Unfortunately, that account gets a lot of spam, so also do something like putting PGRC in your subject line.

    Happy trails!
    Bob Grumbine

    • I recently ran my first half marathon 2 weeks ago in Fredericksburg. I felt relatively good for roughly the first 8 miles or so. Then, I began experiencing a significant amount of pain on the right side of my right knee. In fact, the pain became so bad that I found myself having to walk/run the rest of the race. I think the problem may have been that I was running on the right side of the road that sloped slightly from the center but am not entirely sure. There was no pain when I walked. Then, on Saturday, while running in Greenbelt with Sharon and Ginny, I experienced the same pain…mostly whenever the road sloped around a curve. My question is, what do I do now so that I don’t continue to reinjure myself all the while continuing to run?

    • Do you and other members have any particular advice on transitioning as a beginning runner from all-treadmill to running on tracks or trails outdoors, particularly, doing so in Summer heat? Thanks!

      • I will share my experience. I do not like running on the treadmill except for absolute necessity (like in these temps) or for interval training which I highly recommend. If you take your time and be patient with yourself, you can make the transition without much difficulty. It is different. Your gait is different; your stride is different. I think that it is slower to run on the road than on the treadmill. But you should be fine. Shoes are important – having the right shoes and remember to replace them every 300 miles. You should maintain a log or journal.

        Every runner should consider taking the 90 minute workshop called Good Form Running at Metro Run and Walk in Springield VA. You will get a really good assessment of your running stride, posture, and get off to an even better start. Good luck!

      • Thank you Valerie! It REALLY helps to hear from other people what their experience and ideas are. I’ll look into the workshop too!!

  2. First thing that comes to mind is … how old are your shoes? Second being, how many miles do you have on them?

    Rule of thumb is that running shoes are good for 4-6 months or 300-500 miles, whichever comes first. Doing your training for a half marathon, you were probably racking up some good miles, and that alone could take to needing to replace your shoes earlier than you normally would expect to.

    I tend to run too long in mine. When I do, it feels like someone is stabbing me in the left knee with an ice pick every time my foot comes down. This can be somewhat aggravated by running on uneven or canted surfaces like edges of roads. But once I’m there, switching to even very nice, flat, cushioned surfaces (rubberized tracks, decent treadmills) only moderates the pain; it doesn’t get rid of it.

    The other thing, if the shoes are new, would be if the shoes are the wrong type for your gait. I once got a supinator’s shoe (intentionally) and in my first 10 miles was back to icepick-stabbing in my knee.

    First up, then, is make sure your shoes are new enough and right for your gait.

    Second, while recovering — and you do have an injury to be recovering from — run in your better shoes, and only on forgiving surfaces. That’ll mean treadmills, tracks, and trails. Stay off crowned roads (unless you can run down the middle, which is unlikely) and concrete. Ice after runs, and maybe take an anti-inflammatory. Not anti-inflammatory or painkiller before the run. That will mask the signals you need in order to know you have to quit running. Masking this signal is a way to turn a minor matter into something that can keep you off your feet for a prolonged period.

    If you’ve been too stubborn in persisting (which I’ve done), you’ll need to rest the knee from impact for a while. To keep your aerobic base up, time to hit the bikes, aqua-jogging, swim, row, …. The longest I’ve persisted against this sort of thing is 2-3 weeks, which meant another week or two letting the knee recover. I know of some folks who persisted for more like 4-6 weeks and then had to stay off the knee for another 4-6.

    Changing to only nice surfaces, icing, post-run anti-inflammatories, and perhaps changing to non-impact aerobics for a bit, are all good things to do whether your shoes are the issue or not. If doing all these, plus any needed shoe updates, does not change your pain situation, you must see your doctor. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to do so already, particularly if yours (like mine) is a runner.

    One last thought is on form. It’s easy to think ‘lean in to the curve’, especially if you once were a sprinter. Sprinters are going fast enough, and around tight enough curves, that the lean is needed (and practiced, and very technical). But for us distance runners, it puts excess weight and twisting on your inside leg. Practice doing your running keeping your weight squarely over your foot at the time you land. You’ll still have a very small lean, but mostly you take curves as a distance runner by lengthening the stride from the outside leg, and shortening it from the inside leg. (Outside = side away from the direction you’re turning towards.)

  3. Hi everyone. I have my first half-marathon coming up in 2 weeks. My training didn’t go according to plan and I maxed out at only 10 miles. I feel like my endurance and pace have suffered over the past few months and it took me longer than usual to complete the long runs. I’m not a particularly speedy runner but was proud of my 1:53 finish in the GW Parkway 10-miler. A part of me wants to back out of the half but I’m also using it to raise money for Komen for the Cure. I’ve been running mainly intervals over the summer with the Running Start group and I plan to run a 5:1 or 6:1 for the half, but I’m still nervous that I won’t finish in the alloted 2:45 time limit (or at all!). Any tips, thoughts, suggestions? Thanks.


  4. Summer heat and humidity can take off a lot from both your speed and endurance. I figure about 1/8th (add 1 minute to 8 min/mile, 1:30 to 12 minutes/mile) for myself if it is both hot and humid. I seem to be particularly sensitive to both, so that’s a high figure.

    Now that you’re in to your last 2 weeks before race day, your main job to complete the race ok is to keep from getting injured. That, and hope for good weather.

    The good news is, as a rule of thumb, you can finish (not pleasantly, but finish) a race if you’ve run at least 2/3rds of the race distance in your training. At 10 miles in prep for a half marathon, you’re over 80%, and — as far as that matter goes — should be ok for completing the race (at all, and as a more major effort than if you were in better training).

    Now for your 10, I hope you’ve been working out how much water you need to drink, and can drink. And you’ve figured how much salt you need, or sports drink, and which sports drinks. If not, passing about 2 hours can be extremely unpleasant. Also best if you’ve experimented some on what calorie sources (sports drinks, goos, oranges, snickers bars, …) your body is ok with digesting. As far as all of these things go, your mantra is: “Nothing New On Race Day”. If you haven’t eaten or drunk it before, don’t do it on race day either. Your last long run(s) before the race are the time to finish your experimentations.

    As to finishing a half marathon in a given time, my web page Walk/run has a calculator for you to experiment with. If you run 12 min/mile, and walk 20 min/mile, you’ll need to run:walk 8:1 to beat 2:45. If you’re running 11 min/mile, and walking 20 min/mile, you should make it with 3:1. But experiment with paces from your recent runs. It will be race day, so you’ll probably run faster than your training runs. But you’ll also have to be careful to avoid bolting the start (my frequent issue). If some 10 minute miles or paces start showing up, back off immediately!

    Good luck!

    Oh, and remember this (he says from first hand experience): It is much better to not force a race than to force yourself through the finish and be sick for a month, and disrupt your training for many months thereafter.

    • Thanks Bob. This is really helpful. On both of the 10 mile days it was quite humid. Also on the last run I was probably running too fast which caused me to burn out. I have to be sure to maintain my comfortable pace throughout most of the race. I typically use a hydration belt with 2 waters and 2 sports drinks and I keep craisins on hand for quick fuel. I’m not crazy about the goos and such. I will check out your calculator and do some experimental (shorter) runs this week to see which interval will work for me. Thanks again!

  5. Ditto on the heat and humidity– I’ve been slogging (read- mostly walking) through my morning runs this August but managed to run the whole route at a good pace this morning with the crisp cool air. Also taking in calories – and even some caffeine if your stomach can handle it (i love the espresso clif shots when running and energy is flagging, they are icky if I am sitting home eating them on the sofa)- will be very helpful in a 2+ hour race. But as Bob says nothing new on race day. On race day, start in the back of the pack, passing people is much better for the morale than being passed and you will be sure not to start too fast. Also, chatting often helps me in long races– make some friends along the way and enjoy the run– and you can support each other at the end when the race gets tough. I look forward to hearing your race report. Good luck!


  6. Thanks Cindy! I think I had coffee once before a run and it really did energize me. I may try it once or twice before the big day. I’m not sure about the shots though. Sounds kinda scary. LOL I’m praying for a day like today for the race. I love running when it is crisp outside.

  7. Hi! I know this is a forum for training questions, but I am trying to find a (preferably indoor) track that is open to the public (free?) in the Greenbelt or College Park areas. I thought about University of MD, but their indoor track is kinda spendy for non students. I am a single woman and do not feel comfortable running outside in the dark (evening is the only time my schedule allows), and would like to find somewhere I can run to get away from the treadmill once in a while. Doesn’t have to be fancy!

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