How Joe Calkins ran a 1hr37 half marathon after an Achilles injury (with no speed sessions!)

How Joe Calkins ran a 1hr37 half marathon after an Achilles injury (with no speed sessions!)


Meet Joe:

In 2018, he thought his colleagues were mad when they did the Ragnar 24 hour Relay. In 2019 he agreed to join them and as it so often does, the running bug bit, and so Joe’s running journey began. 


From runs over lunch with the office “run club” to doing whatever training plans he could find, his miles quickly ramped up.

His mindset was “if you aren’t straining, you aren’t doing anything”. 


Joe ramped up all sorts of training in different plans with the “no pain, no gain” attitude and in the summer of 2019, also made a switch to zero-drop shoes. This was all perhaps a little too much too soon, and by July 2020 he was struggling with an Achilles tendinopathy. 


This plagued him all the way up to his first marathon in November 2020, despite treatment with rest and exercise. Having run a 1hr33 half marathon the year before, Joe should've been on track for a Sub 3hr20 marathon, but he battled through and was obviously disappointed with his time of 4hr09. 


Time to make a change


Joe’s highschool soccer coach ran the marathon with him, sent him a link to a Coach Parry Faster Beyond Fifty Masterclass and he joined the CoachParry Training Club soon after that.


Joe had his onboarding call with Shona, where Lindsey had suggested Joe follow the MAF* (Maximum Aerobic Function) training plan due to his Achilles concerns. 

*We utilise Dr Phil Maffetone’s MAF training principles in some of our training plans for athletes just like Joe; either coming back from injury or starting again after a long lay-off of running. 


We’ve also been prescribing these plans to great effect during COVID times with little to no races around, allowing athletes the time to do the MAF training plans to rebuild some aerobic capacity. 


Joe did a full 12 week cycle of MAF training from November 2020 to February 2021. This allowed his Achilles injury to fully recover while he maintained his fitness and built a strong base. 

He ended his MAF cycle running a hilly half marathon in 1:37 - only two minutes slower than the time he ran this the year before. 


 “I thought that was GREAT considering I had been only done slow running,  and had dealt with injury”



Joe PB Forum Post


Joe is proof that MAF training works. Initially he was worried that he would lose fitness by only running slowly but his half marathon time shows otherwise. 


By using MAF to govern the intensity of his runs, he was able to recover from injury while maintaining fitness. Joe says that using MAF broke his injury cycle and allowed him to come back stronger.


Running Pain and Injury Free and some PB's


Not only has Joe got back to running pain and injury free, but he PB’d both his 5 km and 10 km pre-injury times. He knocked 10 seconds off his previous PB to run 5 km in 19:28  (having done his first 50 km trail run the weekend before!) 


And a few weeks ago, he bested his 10 km time by over a minute. Best of all, he’s still injury-free!


Without stating the obvious here, injuries are difficult to deal with. They are frustrating and, as Joe put it “demoralising”. They hinder your consistency and therefore your progress in running. Its very often the thing that is the greatest stumbling block in moving us forward. 


Training pain and injury free is most definitely one of the number one goals we have at CoachParry for our athletes because from that will very often come improvements in performance. 


For anyone else struggling with injuries, running in pain or struggling with the MAF process of training, Joe is a perfect example of how you can get through it all by following the plan, trusting the process and eventually getting back to pain and injury free and some PB’s

Joe MAF Forum post


From here, Joe wants to keep fit and get faster while enjoying running. He aims to be competitive in his local running scene and to keep working on his “age graded ranking”... all while staying injury free. According to Joe  


“Injury-free is the new fast”. 


We couldn't agree more Joe! We love your work and are so proud of the progress you have made over the last few months! Cant wait to see your next steps! 

Joe Calkins 2021 Yorktown Victory 10k
Running Couple
Running Couple

Join us for a free live online presentation of the...

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

...and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you're training harder than ever but not running the paces you'd like to be running or if you're constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

11am Los Angeles | 2pm New York | 7pm London

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