Monday, January 09, 2012

Pain, Progress, and Starting Over

Over a month ago, I set the goal to run a four hour marathon on March 18, 2012. I began training and documenting my progress here, but right before Christmas I started experiencing pain on the outside of my left knee. After consulting Dr. Google and a few running friends, it was pretty clear that the problem was my IT band - a common running injury that can usually be blamed on over training. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what I did. 

I got really excited about marathon training. I used a plan that was more demanding than any I had followed in the past. I was running more miles and doing less yoga and cross training. I was running too fast on most of my workouts. I got injured. I couldn't run. It sucked. 

Last week, I ran a grand total of ten miles. My long run was four miles and at the end of it, my knee felt a little tight, but nothing like before. I think those two weeks of rest and recovery paid off, but that doesn't mean I'm jumping right back into my training plan. If I pick up where I left off, I'll probably re-injure myself and I don't want to risk that. I love running too much. So it's time for a new plan. 

I've decided to drop down to the half marathon for the Wrightsville Beach race. I only run one marathon a year and I only want to tackle that distance if and only if I am 100% healthy, strong, and prepared. I don't think I'll feel that way in nine weeks. The year is still young and there are a ton of marathons out there. I'll get my 2012 medal before the year is up - just not at Wrightsville Beach. And I'm okay with that. 

As for my week's worth of workouts: I took it easy, since I'm coming back from an injury and a vacation. Even though I worked out every day this week, nearly everything was done at a less intense level. 

Monday: Three easy miles with Nathan, and the first run of the New Year. I wanted to run five but my ITB started to act up at mile 2.5 so I cut it short. This was when I knew a spring marathon was not in the cards for me. (Pace: 9:28)

Tuesday: Vinyasa Flow. There was a substitute instructor, who I liked better than the usual instructor.

Wednesday: First, an easy three mile run at a 9:35 pace. Then, my beloved 30 minute kettlebell class at the YMCA. Because it is January and there are a ton of new members at the Y, the class was geared toward beginners. I didn't mind - it was nice to ease back into strength training.

Thursday: Vinyasa Flow, with lots of twists and hamstring stretches. I felt really strong in this class and enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Friday:  Kettlebell class, followed by 30 minutes of spin. I usually skip the spin portion of kettlebell - it's optional and I like to run before or after class instead. But since I'm giving my knee a break, I spun. Spinning is so hard. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest! 

Saturday: Yoga at the YMCA. I really liked the instructor - she's a retired ballerina and offers just the right balance of mindfulness through the moves. I made Nathan come with me and even he liked the instructor, which is rare for him. (He is very picky about yoga instructors.)

Sunday: A long run of four miles at a 9:35 pace. A little soreness, but since this was the longest I've run in a while, I was downright thrilled. It's funny how an injury can make you appreciate distances in a whole new way.

Total miles: 10
Yoga classes:
Strength training: 2
Dog walks: a million
Final thoughts: Even though I'm still recovering, 2012 is off to a good start.


  1. Aw, that's so sad about your spring marathon!  Of course you are doing the right thing, but still: it's hard to let go of a big goal like this, even if it's just a rescheduling.  I'm glad you caught the injury relatively early, and you have the chance to rest, recover, and get back into running slowly.  I feel for you here!  Sending good work-out vibes your way for this week...

  2. Sometimes, your body runs things and not you. So, good looking out for your body. :)

  3. Hopefully training through the summer for a fall marathon won't be too terrible. North Carolina summers are only slightly more forgiving than Texas. :)

  4. I'm trying for my first marathon this year and I purposely picked an October race just in case anything happens along the way.

  5. I know it's frustrating but it's probably for the best. You don't want to end up sidelined for several weeks or even longer. 

  6. Sorry to hear about your injury. I am still pretty new to running and I needed to be remined about the importantance it cross training and yoga!
    Keep up the good work and remember to keep listening to your body.

  7. Exactly. And I'm actually enjoying diversifying my workouts these past few weeks. Spin class especially is a killer workout!

  8. When you're new or training for something, I think the most important thing is just taking it slowly and not rushing it. That's my problem - I want to jump right into the long runs and the hard speed sessions and rack those miles up each week, but slowing down and working towards your goals slowly is a much more sustainable approach. Now if only someone could remind me of this fact the next time I start to go overboard... :)

  9. I totally agree with your statement about after an injury you have a different perception. 4 miles has been thrilling to me before too even t hough I was up to 20 miles training at a different time. 

  10. Elliewoodscarlett6:30 AM, January 11, 2012

    Very sorry to hear that you won't be running a spring marathon. I started following yr blog after reading about yr first marathon experience and I always find your running success inspiring. Definitely a good decision to hold off tho. Running is about life-long happiness! 

  11. Thanks, Ellie! I am still planning to run the half in the spring, and maybe a 5K next month. Part of my disappointment in skipping the full was that I really miss racing - it's been so long! So I will console myself with shorter races. And with picking out a fall marathon! :)

  12. I'm with ya sister--starting over is hard, but it's always best to listen to the body.  I think I might have an exercise post up my sleeve, but I've started incorporating more core workouts to my repertoire and I'm hoping to figure out the running thing again soon.  My body just never likes it--tons of shin-area pain no matter what I do...guess I should stretch more.  I'm doing Cxworx at the Y here--wish they had kettleball, maybe someday soon!!

  13. The thing I like most about kettlebell is that it's just a 30 minute class - 20 minutes of kettles, and usually 10 minutes of abs. So easy to fit in (even before or after a run) and the class setting has helped me be really consistent. I'm definitely noticing new muscles, which is exciting!

    What is Cxworx? I have not heard of it!