Injury Management

Training for a race while suffering from an injury is grueling! It’s super important to make sure you focus on the positives along the way. Today, I had a very satisfying training run. I wasn’t in pain. I had to cut it short to avoid the pain, but the distance I ran felt great. Of course, my de-conditioning shows over the course of many weeks where I have either skipped runs or  shortened  them. or worse yet, just lowered my training expectations overall.

So I celebrate the small victory today. I ran and it didn’t hurt. I had a decent pace and it was very easy to maintain. On days like today, I have hope for a successful marathon! Boston is just 4 weeks out and while I know that this will not be the race I had hoped for, I feel confident I can complete it and that is more than I could have said a few weeks ago!

It is so easy to get wrapped up into our story. And lately, my story has been about my bulging discs and my pain. This past week, I have felt tremendously better and therefore put much less thought into my back and my pain and my marathon. It becomes exhausting and obsessive and eventually it can become all you talk about.

I am glad to feel better and talk about myself less. It’s time to focus on healing and staying healthy. Positive thoughts. Pleasant smiles. Satisfying runs!

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How fast can YOU run in pain?

I have stood at the bottom of the mountain. With a stoic pause and clinched teeth, I… ran around the damn thing! That’s what you do when you have bulging lumbar discs! I joke, but not to make light of it. I courageously decided to embark on a 16 mile run after 3 weeks of rehabbing and protecting my spine from impact. Well, that was my mountain. And finishing only 12 miles, that was my failure.

Yes, it was. People try to tell me differently. But, I know what happened to my passion, my drive. I started strong and hopeful, and watched my Garmin much too carefully, as it showed how my average mile pace fell steadily with each mile.

I was a wuss! At mile 6, I wussed out. Cut out 4 miles right then and there. Told myself I would add them back if I felt good. Oh, hell no! Of course, that would never happen.

I used to have this quote written on my office chalkboard at school. “It’s not about how fast you can run. It’s about how fast you can run in pain.” Like I needed this quote to haunt me for two and a half hours. But, it did.

I’m not upset though. I learn from all experiences. I learned that I will never think that people who run slower than I do put forth less effort. I will never think that again. Because it was so much harder to drag along and watch the road ahead of me never, ever come to an end. Much more of a mental challenge to keep going, knowing that going that slow is no great feat. Not a PR. Not an age group award in a race. It’s nothing. But, I kept going, trying to figure out how to cut out more mileage. Not the mentality that qualified me for the Boston Marathon in the first place!

Next weekend, I am going to do it again. But, differently. Above all else, I am leaving my Garmin at home. (Not really, but I will say that all week.) And I am going to run for a time goal, not a mile goal. (Again, that’s a load of crap, but that’s what I will tell people.)

What will I do? Probably the same thing I did this past weekend, with a greater appreciation for the journey. I will make sure I enjoy the route I plan, hopefully allowing the miles to tick by a little faster, despite what my Garmin says!

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Running Solo

Running was always a solo venture for me when I first started out on what eventually became my marathon mission. In the beginning, I had to squeeze in my runs between school, work and daycare pick up. I had to plan out babysitting for race days. There was no time to worry about coordinating anyone else’s schedule. I was lucky to get to run at all!

I ran because I loved to be outside and I loved the freedom I felt to just take off with no particular destination and no distractions from the outside world. In fact, most of the time, no one knew exactly where I was, and I would find myself several miles from home before I would finally decide to make my way back. It made me feel invincible at a time in my life when I truly had only myself to rely on.

As much as I am not a fan of  New Year’s Resolutions, I am going to resolve to find that freedom again and to cherish my solo runs again. I began this journey for no particular reason other than just to be healthy and have some “me” time. I have since set goals and achieved and exceeded those goals. Now, it’s time to get back to finding my freedom again. Running solo, running free, and loving every minute of it!

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After the marathon…

If you are looking for advice for what kind of recovery time you need after a marathon, you don’t have to look far. Seems everyone has an opinion, a differing opinion. Which makes it difficult to decide how to approach the recovery period.

Therefore, many of us flounder, not sure what to do. We see people who run marathon after marathon, some just a week or two apart and we think something must be wrong with us if we rest! 

If you are like me, you feel pressure to meet your weekly running groups and to pick up where you left off with your runs. But, we have put our bodies through tremendous physical, mental and emotional stress throughout the entire marathon journey. And we owe it to ourselves to respect the recovery as much as we respect marathon day.

You have been strong for about 16 weeks, been committed to  your mileage, your hills and your speed work. But, it’s not over until you have given yourself the opportunity to rebuild and prepare for the next journey.

So, relax, marathoner! Your race is over! Kick up your feet! Take a load off! For some of us that means 2 weeks, for some that means 4 weeks. But, how ever long you choose to recover, don’t think of it as rest, but respect it as the final phase of training!

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Best Benefit of Running!

My body feels beat up! That means I am doing all of the right things to prepare myself for April 16! I have a group of incredible running friends who help me stay focused and help me remember why I am doing this at all. The main benefit I have experienced from all of my running and working out may surprise you. It’s not just about running a great race, but I have found that the relationships I have developed with the friends that I run with are the best part of my running!

I look forward to every run to catch up with how everyone is doing and to hear their stories. I love to listen to people talk. There is so much to be learned from being a good listener. I wasn’t always a good listener. But, when you run with people who are faster than you are, you are too out of breath to lead a conversation! This is a really great technique which has forced me to stop talking about myself and start listening to those around me! Hopefully, I won’t always be the slowest, but I will continue with my good listening skills!

Running buddies also don’t mind standing around after a run to discuss your splits. Not everyone wants to hear about my long-run splits, but I can guarantee you these friends will listen and tell me how great I did. And if it was not my best run, they will have a reason for me to feel good about myself anyway!

Relationships with others are important to our health, physical and emotional. Having a network of friends reduces our stress levels. According to this article in Time Magazine, it even increases our longevity! So, our physical health is impacted by our positive relationships. Join a running group. It will improve the quality of your life!

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Boston Training:)

It is an interesting transition between training to qualify for the Boston Marathon, to actually training to run the Boston Marathon! What an incredible journey in which I have solicited so many opinions and received many unsolicited opinions about how to train to run a qualifying race.

Now it is here. Boston training season. Certainly I don’t want to just show up and have fun! Definitely not one of those people who just goes and enjoys a race! My goal is to  set a personal record at Boston. Hills schmills! Ha! I can handle hills and perform better than ever!

I wouldn’t attempt this relying just on myself and the Internet to conquer my new goal. I am part of a training team and we have a great coach who has run the course many times. With his guidance, I will be prepared for downhills and uphills and adrenaline surges and huge crowds. I can’t wait.

In addition to my running team, I have a workout partner. We have incorporated cross training, essentially strength training, into our running schedule. I have become a stronger, faster runner on my daily runs, since I have added cross training days. Stronger muscles, especially core muscles, help me fight off fatigue, and my running form improves, thus my endurance improves.

But a lot of work is ahead of me. My advice to anyone running for a specific goal is:

1. Have support, like my training team

2. Add strength training to your workouts.

Good luck with your goals!

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Running/Jogging/Walking Warm-ups

My informal poll of distance runners came up with this result: No one warms up! We all just roll out of bed, drive to our destination and start running. Is that good or bad? If you aren’t getting any injuries, I guess it is working for you. But, could it hurt to add a warm-up routine? I doubt it. Let’s look at a couple of ideas for warm-ups.

I did a little research and the old school stretch before running is out. Stretching cold muscles promotes injuries. So, what to do? Dynamic exercises. Think school track and field team. You line up and do high knees, butt kicks, karaokes, strides, lunges, etc…

Runners World recommends to “loosen and activate your muscles with five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretches and form drills such as lunges, skipping, and high-knees running” for speed sessions in this article. They also mention that for everyday runs, it is acceptable to just go out running slowly, and then gradually speed up as your body warms up.

Running Times has a great article about warm-ups and cool-downs. Same idea with dynamic movements-lunges and leg swings before the run and they have some great movements for post-run. Worth clicking on the link!

So glad I did this research. 2 reasons. 1. I feel validated for not stretching before my easy runs. 2. Now I know what to do before my speed work. I will add this routine before my long runs too!

Hope you enjoy the articles!

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