Too Much, Too Soon: Learning to Build Endurance Slowly

Adam Demshar stretches before a run.

Adam Demshar plans to write about his personal fitness journey in a regular column here on

This article has been contributed by Adam Demshar.  He has been a supporter of Quickdirt since its inception, and even though he is a runner and not a mountain biker, he could relate to the struggles of training for an endurance sport.  Adam has lost a ton of weight and made an effort to get healthier.  He has even set a new larger goal that he can work toward, which you can read about below.  I hope you you enjoy learning about his personal journey and you can use it to help motivate yourself to find a healthier lifestyle.  He plans on writing about his challenges and successes and keeping us updated here on Quickdirt.

-James Knott

It took a few days for it to sink in.  I had injured my foot right when I felt like my training was going to explode to the next level.  The next few days were wrought with denial and anger.  All I wanted to do was run free through the streets yet I was reduced to a man who couldn’t walk from his desk to his car without serious pain setting in.

I have had private ambitions of becoming a serious distance runner for at least a year.  My runs never really seemed to match the ambition I had in my head though.  I would typically go out for a casual run through my neighborhood of anywhere from 3 to 5 miles 3 times a week and feel pretty good about myself.  About six weeks ago something was triggered in me and I decided that I was going to train for a half marathon.  I didn’t share this information with anyone but I began my training anyway.

I started off easy enough with a week of 15 miles.  This was broken down between 3, 5 mile runs at an 8:30 pace.  The next week I kept this up on my Monday and Wednesday runs.  Friday night I felt amazingly strong and energized and decided around mile 2 that I was going for a distance PR.  As I finished my 8th mile that night I screamed into the night with a feeling of accomplishment.  I was actually going to reach this seemingly impossible goal.  I couldn’t have been more psyched to push my training further.

Adam Demshar runs through the streets of Georgia.

Adam Demshar runs through the streets of Georgia. He learned the hard way that overdoing it can lead to injury.

The next couple of days my legs were incredibly sore.  Every step I took made me feel like more of an invalid than an aspiring half marathoner.  My wife mocked me every chance she got as I made complaints of my pain throughout the day.  She would always remind me that I had done this to myself which I could not argue with.  Despite the tightness and pain in my legs I was itching to get back out there and push myself further.  The opportunity came sooner than I thought when my I was texting back and forth with my friend Sean.  Sean is an ultra-marathoner who looks like a cross between Michael Phelps and Phil Robertson.  He suggested that we go on a run the next morning together.  I agreed despite some reservations about my legs being ready for the challenge.

We met on a chilly Georgia morning around 5:30 am.  After some quick stretching we took off.  Sean took me on a run all over town that morning and once my legs got a little loose I was happy to go right along with him through town and around the campus of Georgia Southern University.  When we finally returned to where we had parked our cars Sean pulled out his Garmin 110 and gave me our stats.  We had run 11.03 miles in an hour and 39 minutes.  I was floored; I was only a few short miles away from my goal and it felt great!  It felt better than great, it felt like I was shedding the old me and re-building myself into a much more confident and capable me.

The rest of the day my legs were a little sore again but other than that I had no noticeable problems.  The next morning however with my first step out of the bed I felt pain in my right foot every step.  The first day I didn’t worry that much, I thought it would pass in a day at most.  Unfortunately, the pain was still with me the next morning. On this morning I had a run scheduled so I went out and covered 4 miles on my injured foot.  By the time I finished my foot felt a throbbing numbness.  The rest of the day I was limping around work unable to put weight on my foot without sharp shooting pain.

The next morning I found myself in the doctor’s office where I was directed to stop running for a month.  The news crushed me.  All I wanted at that point was to continue in my training and get those 2 miles I had left off the half marathon a few days prior.  Unfortunately, I fell victim to a very common problem for runners trying to push themselves to the next level.  I had done too much, too fast.  It was as simple as that.  I should have never allowed myself to go on that run with Sean so soon after setting a new PR.  My body was telling me I needed rest and I ignored it.

Adam Demshar runs in a 5K in Georgia

Where’s Demshar? Do you see Adam in this 5K? Either do I, but I hear he ran in it.

I have been cleared for running for about a week now.  I will admit it is very difficult for me to not go out and tackle larger distances right off the bat.  Although I am going through an internal struggle between doing what I want and what is smart, I committed to planning my training in a smarter way this go around.  I am going to train on a much more gradual plane than I attempted before so that I can safely and successfully reach my goals.

Speaking of goals I have a new one.  This past weekend I competed in a local 5k race in which I placed 29th overall out of 485 and 3rd in my age division.  I was so pumped up after the race that I went ahead and registered myself for the Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon taking place November 2014.  This gives me 9 months to smartly train to success.  I hope you will continue to follow me as I keep you updated on my training, experiences, and nutritional choices.

Let us know what you think about Adam’s first article in the comment section.  Can you relate to his struggles?  Have you ever gone too hard too soon?  How did you manage your injury?  We want to hear about!

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