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



A Different Kind of Patience

This is a fairly self-therapy post in which I do some whining. Sorry in advance!

Many runners use words with “P” as part of their personal mantras: practice!, persevere, persist, patience, “it’s okay to perspire,” “keep the pace…” “move through the pain.” A lot of time, we think of patience in running as having the strength to wait for the right moment to sprint, or taking the “ability to hold out” meaning of patience as it’s definition. However, many runners who have been injured know  that patience is not so much what we have during the run, but what we need during recovery to stop ourselves from running too soon.
“But I just ran a PR, I can do fast, why do I have to wait?”

Clearly, there’s knowing one should be patient, and being able to practice it. I think I was too impatient following my half-marathon mid-December, getting back to walking a lot within a day, and running by the fourth day after the race. I should have waited, and my feet told me so after my almost 6-miler just five days after my race. I had done some damage, made it worse by running again so soon, and now I’m afraid to start again for fear of having given myself an injury.

Clearly, I should go to the doctor to get the foot that’s causing me trouble diagnosed. I am just worried that I already know that the doctor will tell me to stop running, and I’m afraid it’s for a period longer than I’m willing to stop. Instead, I’m considering that I have the worst (stress fracture), and taking the necessary steps from there. [disclaimer: in all likelihood, what I have is “just” a reaction and compounded soreness. If I were in serious pain, I would go see a doctor]

Rest: obviously, I need to take a break from running, or spending a lot of time on my feet. Not running is easier controlled than walking, since I need to be able to get places. I haven’t run for two weeks now, and I figure if I take one more week off, I should be able to gingerly move back into it. It’s been three weeks since a hard run, or daily running, but I know I should probably stick to my plan of three weeks completely off. That’s where having patience comes in. I need to remember that even if the foot feels fine walking, or a few minutes into the run, I don’t want to know what happens when it starts hurting again, or how long I have to wait to start again… so I wait.

Waiting: I am using the time I would usually run to take care of my feet. I used a callous remover and got my heels back down to their normal texture and size. I soak my feet in warm water and rub them in with creme. I try to ice them. I have been taping my arches when I walk for longer periods of time. I try to keep my feet walking normally, and ignore the pain that makes it tempting to do a weird foot twist. I roll my feet over a ridged roller and a small, hard ball. For the rest of my legs and body, I still foam roll, try to do calisthenics, and get a lot of biking in. It’s weird going from 50 miles a week of running to 0, but I can use the extra time right now anyway to work for school.

what about playing soccer?: Am I stupid? Admittedly, yes, a little. I am thinking about it. Should I though? Probably not. I’m going to wait at least as long as I will wait before I start running again.

Wish me luck! Realistically, I know I can take off three more weeks and still have moderate preparation for the marathon at the end of April. If I want that even to be an option, I need to be patient now. That’s my mantra.

A Rough Recovery

You know the advice to keep walking after finishing a race? Try to stay on your feet for at least 20 minutes? Well, it’s good advice.

Unfortunately, after my half-marathon two weekends ago, I failed to take it and got comfortable on a curb with a plate of food within ten minutes of my run. I hadn’t even finished my first bottle of water yet.

Sitting felt good. Getting up, not so good.

My thighs were incredibly sore and anything more than a shuffle hurt. Well, I also wasn’t able to complete a cool down run, and settled for a slow, painful walk to the car. This is a far stretch from my last half marathon where I lost my car key in the walk from my car to the starting line and used the moment I crossed the finish line onward to find security personnel along the race and ask if they had found my key. A quick run from one person to the next meant I had a good cool-down (and got my key in the process). Should have lost my key again, I guess.  The rest of the day after this race I moved very little, happy to be sitting down. I haven’t done an intense long race in a while, so I don’t know if I felt that way after my marathons, but I certainly never felt that way after a half before.

Monday wasn’t much better and it not only hurt going down steps, it hurt going up and horizontal as well. I was in very bad shape. It was my own fault though, and while I didn’t do much immediate post race recovery, I put more effort into the recovery for the rest of the week. I gave myself daily massages, took Epsom salt baths, got enough sleep, ate a lot of foods with important vitamins and minerals, stretched and did yoga, basically, everything one is supposed to do. By Thursday I was feeling much better, but after a short 2 mile run, quite sore again. It was mostly my thighs that were complaining, but the blister on my foot was still making trouble. Friday morning I went out for another run that felt much better (seems like the run the day before cleared out some of the pain), but I started feeling a slight pain in the top, right side of my right foot, and my paranoid self (as well as the knowledge that four days of rest after my effort had not been enough) made me fear the worst: stress fracture.

It’s not just paranoia. I am a likely candidate. I have been increasing my mileage and running on a foot plagued by plantar fasciitis since July. I lost about seven pounds since my arrival in Hamburg, as well as my regular period. While losing my weight was not intentional, I also wasn’t vigilant about making sure I had enough to eat for the amount of running I was doing. I also chalked up the amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle) to hormonal shifts based on the stress of being in a foreign country and having some homesickness and culture shock. It wasn’t until I got home, right before my race where I realized that I had lost weight and may have been unhealthy. To top this list, I had fractured a bone in my foot before by playing soccer barefoot (brilliant, I know). The slight tingling I feel on my foot in various stages of movement make me think that if I had a stress fracture, the location would be in about the same place.  Because of the combination of these factors, I kind of think I may be in pretty bad shape to begin marathon training.

But, after that almost 6 mile run on that last Friday (the 20th), I consequently avoided running and long periods of walking. I have continued stretching and massaging, and I am trying to stay active by biking and swimming. I also did a workout of pool running, but I still feel silly when I do that.

Anyway, I don’t plan to run again for another week at least. Also, if I don’t feel better on Jan. 2nd, I may just take one more week off (to give myself three weeks of potential recovery).

I know I should not self-diagnose, but if I basically know I have to take time off and rest, what more can a doctor tell me? At least time off may ensure that I recover from the fasciitis.

Welp. So much for injury free. It’s hard to sit on the sideline, since I wasn’t actually experiencing real pain (just some pangs of discomfort) when I stopped running and probably could have continued running. On the other hand, with this marathon I registered for, and a soccer team I want to continue playing for, I also know I’d rather take time off now, while I can, than run and have to stop and not have enough time after recovery to train properly. Oh well.

I can’t believe I’ve only taken one week off and already feel antsy. How will I make it to two or three more??