What to do (and not to do) during your toughest training weeks

If you're training for a half or full marathon this fall, your highest-mileage weeks are likely right on the horizon. Some runners refer to this tough four-week period as Monster Month, and if you've never experienced it before, you'll soon understand why.

To thrive during Monster Month, it's more important than ever to pay attention to the details of staying fit, focused, and balanced. You have the most to lose, but also the most to gain. We'll tell you what to do - and what to avoid doing - to make sure you gain every advantage you can.

Set the Right Pace During a Race


Try a dress rehearsal.
Treat one of your longest runs as a race simulation. Keep the pace comfortably slow, but do everything else - eating, drinking, dressing - as if it's race day. Run at the same time of day and on similar terrain - even on the course itself if that's practical. This physical and mental rehearsal can reveal a problem that you can correct.

Get a massage. Regular massages are most valuable during your heaviest training months because they can hasten your recovery from workouts and help keep you injury-free. The best time for a massage is the day after your long run or after a speed workout, when those kinks need to be kneaded the most.

Try These Self-massage Techniques

Eat more dairy. Consuming more dairy products than usual during heavy training is an excellent idea because dairy contains carbohydrates (12 grams in an eight-ounce glass of milk), protein (eight grams), and bone-fortifying calcium (300 mg).


Overtrain. Your body will tell you when you're training too much, but you have to listen. Some signs are obvious, like fatigue, catching a cold, or muscle soreness that lingers for several days. Others are subtle: You're irritable, you're feeling unmotivated, or you aren't sleeping that well. The cure-all is rest.

Cross train. Cycling, swimming, and lifting are great most of the year, as part of low-key training months when your main goals are general fitness and injury prevention. But during the heavy training month before a big race, it's all about the running.

Get fired. If you're dragging at work because of the heavy training load, especially on Monday mornings after long Sunday runs, schedule long runs on Saturdays so that you have all of Sunday to recover. Also try going to bed earlier every night (or sleeping later), because heavy training requires more sleep.

Sleep Advice for Runners

Tell us: How do you reward yourself after a tough week of training?

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