Over the past few years of marathon training, I have found that making it to the starting line injury-free and in top physical condition is much more difficult than actually running the marathon itself. Sometimes there is a very thin line during training between pushing yourself to your potential and pushing yourself too hard. I learned a lot of things from my stress fracture two years ago but one unexpected lesson I learned was in gratitude. Never take for granted good health and getting to run the race you want to run. There is a huge difference between racing and running to finish (for fun or for the experience). It’s funny how our goals can change during a training cycle.
Two years ago my original goal was to finish the Boston Marathon. This was already a bit of a stretch because my baby was just a few months old and I only had 11 weeks to train after my c-section. During the process of training, things went better than expected and I must admit that I got a little greedy. My goal quickly changed from just finishing to running it under 4 hours. Nothing wrong with goals, right? Then I had a 5 mile treadmill run that changed everything. Suddenly I felt a strange sharp pain every step I took. I had to stop running and hoped it would go away so I could at least run for completion. This might sound silly or childish but I prayed desperately that God would take away the pain and heal me so I could run. All I wanted to do was to complete the marathon- no matter what the time said on the clock. Days went by and nothing changed. Finally, an MRI confirmed I had a stress fracture running it at all was out of the question. Did God answer my prayer? Of course he did, although it was not the answer that I wanted at the time. Now, looking back I am so glad I did not run Boston with a 15 week-old. I learned so much from the entire experience.
I have run 5 marathons since my stress fracture of 2011 and I have not taken a single one of them for granted. No training cycle was perfect but I was able to make it to the starting line injury-free and run the race I wanted to run.
This week did not start out the way I would have liked. On Monday (with just two weeks to go until Boston) I noticed a faint pain on the inside my leg was getting worse. I’ve dealt with this issue on and off in the past- my physical therapist said it was tendonitis. When it’s happened before it usually does not last more than a few days and is very tolerable. For some reason it’s been worse this time. I decided to take Wednesday and Thursday off this week. It was only 2 days but it felt like 2 weeks! I noticed it was much better after the first day off but I decided to give myself another day. This morning I ran an easy five. I wish I could say I felt great the whole time but it’s still a little “off.” Much better but not 100%. During my run I found myself saying the same prayer that I said two years ago. I would love to get to the starting line in Hopkinton completely injury-free but I realize that may not happen. At this point it is minor enough that I can run through it but it is not the ideal scenario and I have to be ok with that. I had a 30 minute massage this morning and then did some contrast therapy in water at home. (More on the contrast therapy below.)
I know this has helped. I am trying to stay positive and be thankful that I have made it this far. I am still planning to race in Boston and I do not think this bump in the road will change my racing pace plan at all. Hopefully with another taper week next week my leg will continue to heal. Did I push it too much last week? Probably. But it’s over now and I have to keep going. I have one more quality workout before Boston and it is in the form of a 10K race tomorrow.
As for the contrast therapy.… I have heard the benefits of this over the past few years but never did it as intentionally as I did today. I am no stranger to ice baths but I have never gone back and forth between hot and cold. “This type of therapy alternates between the application of hot and cold in a repetitive fashion, with the theoretical goal being to enhance recovery, decrease delayed-onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), enhance blood lactate removal, and improve various other markers of inflammation.”
I decided to do two rounds and according to most research you want to start with hot water and end with cold water. I filled a trash can with ice water and set it right next to my bath tub. I filled my tub with hot water.
I used the format of an example found in the above article. 20 minutes total with: 5 minutes hot, 5 minutes cold, 5 minutes hot and finished with 5 minutes cold. The 5 minutes in the warm bath went by far too quickly and the 5 minutes in the ice water were pretty long! Still, much better than 14 minutes straight in the ice bath. I like this method a lot more!
As of today there are 10 days until Boston. I actually leave one week from today so it is all becoming more and more real! Time to get focused and STAY POSITIVE!