More struggles, but also some silver linings

I realize that whining is not a great character trait, and that it’s also not much fun to read or respond to… since one ‘d be called insensitive for telling the whiner to shut-up and deal with it, and the obligatory “hang in there, keep the chin up” is annoying to write and doesn’t really mean much to the whiner, either.

So you don’t have to write those comments and I won’t whine. I just want to write another post about the harder parts of training to accompany all the posts where training is going well, because once marathon time comes around, I know this period will provide me with more mental strength than anything else.

This past week was another week of trying to keep the training up-diligently. Training for any race requires determination and diligence. The consistency, after all, is what makes us better- not the individual efforts. Still, there’s a difference training for the event with the sports one chooses above all others versus with the sports one does to replace that one sport.

I’ve chosen to use spinning and bicycling to replace running, since my bike and a spinner at the gym are the two most accessible tools for me at the moment. It helps that bike can get me all around the city and country side, and I can train with destinations to help the time on the seat go by faster. Still, it nags at the back of my mind that I’m not working on my endurance on my feet. A four and a half hour ride on the bike means I can carry myself pretty well on an iron horse, but I have no idea how my feet will hold up 20+ miles.

However, it helps that the hardest part of marathon training is getting the aerobic fitness up. Sprinters are able to transition to longer distances, as far as muscles go, in a few weeks. It’s the ability to get the air pumping long and fast enough that takes more time. So, I keep that in mind as well, and that gets me to push myself harder on the bike, even when I feel it’s pointless.

I’ll admit, I may be pushing myself too hard. I read recently that one shouldn’t try to get one’s heart rate into the max zone too long, too often. With several interval, hill sessions in a row, I noticed myself struggling on a fartlek ride on Thursday, and took it easier on Friday again. I’m tallying up 150+ miles for the week, which is fun for me to see. Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me won’t consider that a solid week of training, but changing my mentality is something I’m working on, even while writing this.

I’ve been buddy-taping toe, and it’s been easier to walk on. I can even walk on sand now, which was nearly impossible because of the pain a week ago, and short spurts, across the street when the light is about to turn red, cause no pain at all, which is a good sign. However, it’s only been three weeks and once the tape comes off, the toe is aching, so I’ll wait a bit longer. I’m in the tricky part of an injury where the pain is bearable and one wants to test one’s limits. I just don’t want to test and regress in the healing. I’m too close to the marathon for that.

One thing for sure, this too will pass, and I’ll be able to enjoy the thrill of running again, soon. I’ve taken off too much time (four weeks on Tuesday) to jump right back in, but I’ll balance running and cross training for a week or so before replacing bike/spinner workouts with the runs again. I hope to be able to taper according to plan. But this injury has also trained my patience muscle a bit more, so I’m willing to see what happens.

I recently switched gyms and started TRX training, which offers a new set of challenges, and I like to think I’m strengthening my body- making it stronger for the marathon than following my training plan would have done.

So, as one can see, I have enough to write about, even if I’m not currently running. I’m also doing what I can to keep the München Marathon a reality. No one can say I’ve given up, and I’ll just have to keep that in mind over these last days/maybe week(s) as the injury finishes healing.

I also have to stop being marathon training obsessed! But as anyone who trains knows, it’s pretty life consuming. Still, I’ve been having interesting times outside of that, so I will probably post something there again soon. I need all the distractions I can get!

Happy Sunday,



How to… aw, forget it.

I admit, when I started this post, I was struggling. Maybe it’s because keeping up a marathon-cross-training regimen is difficult, or maybe because it’s just impossible. How many marathoners PR after being injured? Are my goals unrealistic?

In another internet search (because google is my magic crystal ball), I found this article: “can’t run, can still train”. It made me feel a lot more positive. It also serves as a good slider for my recount of a workout I did today, to make up for the 8 x 800s I missed.

You can call me crazy, but I really love interval workouts. I love the anticipation as I head to the track, prepare my water bottle, and limber up. The warm-up laps and the dynamic stretches are like foreplay, and walking up to the starting line for the first interval always gets a spike of adrenaline going. Of course, the first interval is always easy, not quite max effort, but good time. Then, the challenge is to get through the recovery well enough to start the next one strong. I love to challenge myself to go faster each time, to see the miles add up without the same monotony of an easy or long run. I love the final interval where I know I don’t have any left, and I can give it everything I’ve got. Unfortunately, this is the third week I’ve missed my intervals.


but here’s what: I wrote some job applications and went to the gym. There, I changed into my workout clothes, saw I didn’t have my headphone (damnit!) and got on the elliptical machine. I did 1,6 km (that’s a mile) at moderate to high intensity to warm-up, and then I went to the spinning room- thankfully empty.

No one had used this spinner since the last time I was there, so I didn’t even need to adjust it. I opened my clock app and opened the stop-watch, started it,  and spun easily for 90 sec.s. Then, I upped the intensity and went as fast as I could go… After about 1 minute, I upped the resistance, got out of the seat, and then also went as fast as I could go. I upped a little more and, got into sprint position and, you guessed it, went as fast as I could go. After 3.5 minutes of this fast stuff (and feeling my heart rate rise), I dropped the resistance and spun easily again. 90 seconds later, it was round two. I did this for 10 rounds and at the end of the tenth one, Skrillex “Bangarang” (seriously, that song makes me GO) came on my iPod that I was using as a mini stereo, so I did another 55 seconds to finish out the song.  I got of the spinner, stretched out a bit, and then went back to the elliptical for a 1,6 km cool-down. My heart rate maxed out at 167, so I think I worked decently hard enough while spinning. The elliptical doesn’t replace running at all- but nothing really does. Feeling self-pity, I hopped on the treadmill for a bit… I made it 300 meters before deciding: no, not ready.

So, I don’t have my aqua belt on me, I don’t have an ellipti-go, and I sure as hell don’t have an alter-g treadmill. I couldn’t even afford the cheapest treadmill on the market. The one thing I do have, though, is a gym I can go to and they have elliptical machines and spinners. I can use both of these to try and get my game on. Next time, I’m bringing my heart rate monitor, so that I can make sure my HR goes above 160 for 67% of the workout.

The remaining challenge left to conquer is that cross-training usually has to be done for more time than the running would have been. Considering that marathon training is already an incredibly time-intensive activity, trying to replicate the training with cross-training activities is almost impossible. For example, Tuesday was long run day- 20 miles. My plan called for accomplishing that in 3 hours. If I follow the advice of 1.5 times the running time, I would have had to workout for 4.5 hours. Um… that’s not really an option- but maybe, if I’m not running-ready in time for my next 20 miler in two weeks, maybe I can make it an option. That’s dedication for you, I guess.

I could have titled this post “how to get through marathon training without running.” However, since I’m still trying to figure that out myself, I’ll just leave it at: I’m trying.



Marathon training…without running

It’s me… I’ve been wondering if after all these months you’d like to read what I’ve been up to. I should be doing a life-update-post, but this one will be shorter.

So, I did two months of marathon training since my jubilant announcement about getting into it back in June. I had a lot of really great workouts, intervals always being more fun than the tempos, but the long runs were slowly building from 10 to 12 to 14 to 15 to 13 to 16… and my last long run was a 15.4 that was supposed to be 17.

Why shorter, you (may not actually) ask? Well, I’ve been taking detailed notes about my running to be able to log everything online again once I got online again (um, I had nothing better than an old eating journal)… and below you see how I was slowly having issues with my feet. It started with a small ache post run that went away over the course of the day, and then became a clearly identifiable point of pain, becoming more and more acute of a pain after each run. Usually, the day off between runs resolved everything.


Unfortunately, during a particularly determined long run, for which I’d set up a circle route and had an aid station and everything, I was in pain for the last five miles of the run and knew I would have been crazy stupid to finish the run. I was out of time anyway, but I like to think I was being smart. The point is, I knew on August 2nd, I needed to take a break, and I actually didn’t mind too terribly much- just enough to question my decision every four hours – to wait until the following Monday (Aug. 8th) to run again. I had started my training plan on a Wednesday and therefore had time for the plan to catch up anyway, so that my long runs would be on Saturdays again (I had made them Tuesdays to accommodate family vacation plans). Unfortunately, before the week was up, I managed to do even more damage. While my right foot was feeling better by the day, my left foot had an altercation with the leg of a particularly sturdy couch and…

YEEAH. That was a day after. Immediately after the match (that I obviously won), the fourth toe was having a party about 2 cm away from third toe. Clearly, I could not run on that. In fact, I had trouble walking and still do.


1.17 weeks later

Thus, while I guess I should be grateful that I had a better reason to stop running than a possible-stress-fracture-not-even-diagnosed, I also wish I hadn’t done this ante-up. It’s been harder to cross-train with this kind of injury, and I’m gritting my way through swims and cycles and hoping I’m not putting too much pressure on the toe and allowing it to heal.

Good news is, my right foot will be healed, without a doubt, by the time I can run again. Bad news is, I’m stuck taking off two weeks and counting from running…in the middle of marathon training and with more pain that the possible stress-fracture proved to be.

What’s a girl with a funny injury limp to do? Ask the internet, of course.

  1. Five Alternative Workouts 
  2. “You Can Race Well Off Cross-Training”
  3. Nine week plan for pool-running

I found a few useful sites giving me workouts and fellow sob-stories of training without running. Most plans promise those who follow them that he/she will be able to retain fitness. Ideally, though, I’m still building my fitness to prep for a sub 3:30 marathon (still my goal, until proven otherwise). I’m modifying the workouts I find based on former experiences on being coached in swimming and from going to spinning classes, so as long as I’m raising my heart rate five times a week, I feel like I may make it through this/these next week(s) and get back out in running shoes by the start of Sept.(?) to resume training.

For those concerned, the answer is “yes”; I’ll get a clearance diagnosis from a doctor before I resume running. There’s not point in starting to run again and end up out of action for the marathon Oct. 9. I got lucky that this injury happened with enough running training in my legs and early enough still to be able to cross train, return to running training, and be okay-ish prepared. If this sequence of injuries had happened this or next  week, I’d be in a little more trouble.

To keep myself moderately involved in the sport, and not want to shoot lasers with my eyes at every runner I see these days (I know, I know, it’s not their fault), I’ve signed up for a local running volunteer group and am going to volunteer at a few upcoming races…maybe even the Berlin Marathon!

Now that I’m back, I’ll be posting updates again (may or may not continue analog logging)- hope you continue to check in!

post script: I listened to the radio while writing this post, and in the past hour heard for the third time that Usain Bolt proved himself the fastest man in the world…again. Geez. I get it. He’s a fast guy! But only over 100 meters :p