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Current state of running and mid marathon training check-in

Honestly, I could make this my shortest post of all time and just say “ugh.” That would be accurate and all-encompassing. Okay, maybe frustrating too, but mostly ugh. Sigh.

Things have kinda been garbage since Chicago Marathon. Not entirely garbage, but sorta like an overly full trash can that you keep stuffing down instead of emptying. Everything seems fine for a hot minute, but only for a minute.

As you may recall, I had some IT band related pain during taper for Chicago. For the most part, this was just some residual soreness from the Newport Half Marathon that I PRed three weeks before Chicago. Though, that’s what got me started going to physical therapy.

Chicago went great and the month after were great. I signed up for the Philly Half Marathon and Marathon, but going into those races my posterior tibial tendinitis flared up. This is something I’ve dealt with a few times in the past. In retrospect, I could have run the races, but I DNSed them to be safe. This was really frustrating as I had just signed up for them last minute, but with Dopey Challenge six weeks later, I made the smart decision.

My milage between Philly and Disney was, of course, lower than planned because of my foot, but Dopey itself went fantastically! That whole week was a great week of running. It started with PRing a 5k on New Year’s Day and then ended with a 3:43 marathon for finish out the Dopey Challenge. This was a big up!

Two weeks easy recovery after the marathon, but then things really didn’t get going again.

With that, I decided to get more serious with my spring racing plans. I decided for sure on Grandma’s Marathon being my goal race and then picked out five (which later became six) half marathons as well. I wanted one of them to be a goal race and the others to simply exist as a way to change up my marathon training.

Things were looking good there. My foot was still not 100%, but it was feeling like I was starting to get it back under control.

Then there was the stress fracture scare in my other foot. With the help of my physical therapist and a great podiatrist, we determined it was bursitis due to my big toe being out of alignment. I was on track for needing surgery if things didn’t change. So I changed my shoes. Upon the recommendation decree of my surgeon and backed up by my physical therapist, I hung up the New Balance 1600s that had been my go-to shoe for nearly five years and laced up some Saucony Kinvaras with some off-the-shelf insoles.

Almost immediately, my posterior tibial tendinitis was 100% gone. My bursitis started getting better, quickly. It took me some time to get used to the extra cushioning of the Kinvaras, but I found I was running well in them.

I was starting to feel optimistic again. And then the murders began…

Wait, no, sorry, there were no murders.

My quads started getting tight again, like they had back around Chicago. And glute/hip tendinitis on my right side that I always have to work on started flaring up again. Yes, I am a mess of tendinitis.

Yuck.

So back down my optimism went as I approached the first of my six spring half marathons. First up was Philly Love Run. I ended up having a solid race. I was supposed to go easy, but I didn’t. I ran 7 seconds slower than my PR and at less than race effort. Back up I went!

But only for a hot minute as the tightness in my quads moved towards my my hips. Ugh.

I should mention, this entire time, I’d been working with my physical therapist on core, hip, and glute strength and mobility. With the switch to the Kinvaras, we also started adding some focus to my form. I’ve always been a very quad dominant runner. To the point where I don’t think my glutes or hamstrings do anything. Even after PR marathons they aren’t sore at all. We wanted to change that. With the switch to the Kinvara and insoles, we looked at how my foot was striking the ground now vs in the 1600s. My PT suggested consciously trying to pronate slightly and make sure the inside of my foot is coming down all the way like it should—something it stopped doing after the shoe change. As soon as I started doing this, it was like a whole new ballgame! All of a sudden my hamstrings and glutes were in play! I could feel the difference while running.

The week after Philly was the Ladies First Half Marathon where I PRed, took first in my age group, and was the ninth woman overall. Not too shabby. This was, again, supposed to be an easier effort, but I ended up falling right into a race effort. Best of all, my hamstrings and glutes were engaging! Honestly, this is probably want propelled me to a new PR without a taper and without really being anywhere near peak fitness level.

That was great, but my hips were still tight and I took an extra rest day in the week following.

Enter half marathon number three. This was originally supposed to be my goal half, but I knew I couldn’t put a hard effort into half marathons three weeks in a row. I tucked back with a pace group that kept me at a moderate effort and stopped me from going out too fast.

Since that race, two weeks ago, my right hip has been less than stellar. I’ve been missing runs and getting depressed. The tightness has become pain on the inside of my hip—what feels like my psoas. My PT wants me to be very careful and take some rest.

Of course, this weekend, I have the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge with a 10k and a half marathon. My only run this week was four very slow miles on Monday. I’m a bit worried about things for this weekend. The plan agreed upon with my physical therapist was to run, but go slow and absolutely take a DNF if the pain gets about a 4-5 out of 10. I’ve never gone into a race quite with that mindset before. Luckily, Disney is never a place I race. I’m always just there for fun and photo ops.

This weekend also puts me eight weeks out from Grandma’s Marathon, halfway through my training. I feel like a mess. I feel like training has been a mess. I’ve been missing runs. I’ve been bouncing from one injury or near-injury to the next. I’m completely failing at staying healthy. Even when I do things right, I’m not avoiding injury. I foam roll almost every day. I do it so much now that I’ve developed complete Stockholm syndrome with my foam roller.

Not AWFUL, but too many rest days.

It’s utterly frustrating. Grandma’s was supposed to be a goal race. I wanted to go for a nice big PR. I haven’t shared my goal time with anyone, but I had a specific one in my head. At this point, that seems pretty unattainable. I know I could get up tomorrow and probably have enough fitness to run a sub-4:00 marathon. I’m not weak or entirely out of shape, but I’m flailing and struggling. Increasingly, it’s looking like that will become the plan for Grandma’s. Do the marathon, but not try for anywhere near a PR. Just get through without breaking myself more.

This fall, I have Chicago Marathon (for the third time) and then Dopey again in January, followed by Boston (!!!!!!!!!) in April. Boston is a year out, but it’s very possible to put myself on an injury track that lasts that long. My primary focus has to be not jeopardizing Boston and that’s something that I have to think about now.

So, yeah, this sucks. I really wanted a training cycle where I was pushing it hard. I wanted to werk. When I trained for Chicago last year, it was planned to be a bit of a lighter training cycle as I was coming back from surgery. I didn’t plan any speedwork. I just did what felt right each week. In the end, I had a massive PR and got my BQ with tons of time to spare. It was a dream come true. I wanted different this time, though, but it’s not going to happen this cycle. At no point during the first half of this cycle have I even felt healthy enough to try running hard. Even those half marathons were more of a getting-caught-up-in-the-moment thing than a planned hard effort.

That’s where my running is right now. In the last seven months, I’ve PRed the 5k, half marathon twice, and marathon. I’ve won my age group in a half marathon. I’ve BQed by over 11 minutes. I’ve run two marathons and five half marathons. I’ve run a 3:43 marathon the day after a half marathon the day after a 10k the day after a 5k. The point of re-hashing all of these things is to really drive home to myself how much I have accomplished through all of this. I can’t ignore any of this. But I’ve done so with so many ups and downs. So much stress. I want to know what I can do when I do stay healthy. I want to be healthy enough to 👏 put 👏 the 👏 work 👏 in. And, mostly, I want to stop writing blog posts every six months about how my training and running aren’t what I want them to be and that I’m battling to stay healthy enough to run.

😕

5 Comments

  1. Dude – it might not *feel* like you’re doing, but I’m super-impressed! I’m just getting into training for my 2nd half and it’s in September so you are quite an inspiration!

  2. I’ve always erred on the side of more rest than overtraining. You’ve already put in many quality runs and races, so why not take 1-2 weeks (maybe three, but that’s probably blasphemous; source: what do I know?) easy and recharge afterward. You may eventually need to reevaluate your goal for Grandma’s, but it’ll at least put you in a better position.

    • You’re totally right. I took most of last week to rest and took the Disney races easy. My hip feels like it’s going in the right direction now. I just had a physical therapy appointment and she said to run easy for no more than 4-5 miles on runs this week, but I might still take another day off before running again.

      I’ve already reevaluated my Grandma’s goal. It’s not going to be a goal race anymore. it’s just not worth perpetuating the injury cycle.

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