Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Final Countdown - Training Review

It's the final countdown to my first marathon of 2012.  And right about now I'm regretting signing up for two this year!  In fact, right about now I'm regretting signing up for THIS one. 

To say this training season has been harder is a slight understatement.  Right from December (the month before I started training), I was struggling.  I didn't run for 3 weeks due to my knee, saw a doctor who said it was runners knee.  He also said I had a weak ass, extremely inflexible and weak hips and fallen arches. 

Then came training starting the week after Christmas and I struggled due to running at night all the time and sometimes cold temps (even though it was a great winter).  I was feeling defeated during my long runs due to the location and the massive hills I had to run for them.  I was feeling slow compared to other runners.  Everything was getting to me.

My next minor injury at the end of January/beginning of February was a muscle strain in the calf.  This was extremely painful and I couldn't even hardly walk for an entire weekend plus some days!  I skipped a few of my training days, saw a chiropractor and bought compression sleeves for my calves. After this injury, I had a little epiphany.   I was too concerned with speed.  I was too concerned with other runners.  I was too concerned with some little races I had signed up for and PR'ing those runs.  I came to the realization that my main concern with the marathon and staying healthy for it.  The other runs didn't matter this year.

After my little epiphany, I started running great!  The weather was great for February too which helped.  Kelly and I created a Thursday night run group which is always a lot of fun!  My pace actually got faster even though I wasn't trying!  I felt great...for about a week (or two)!  How feeling great can be so short-lived sometimes! 

Then came March.  My worst month.  How I despise you, March!  Just when I'm feeling good, a wrench gets thrown in.  Why can't things be easy?  I know, I know.  The hard makes you appreciate the easy even more.  After my 16 mile run, my left ankle was sore.  Then after being on it all day the following Sunday, it was swollen.  I got extremely nervous.  I went in just for a free injury screening and was told it was tendinitis.  I was relieved that's all it was.  I was advised to not run for 1.5 weeks.  She gave me a whole list of exercises to do.  Well, not only was it tendinitis but again I was told I have a weak ass, extremely inflexible and weak hips, fallen arches...seems as though I was told this before??

I happily complied with not running for 1.5 weeks.  I still would have 6 weeks until the marathon!  So rest, ice, cross train.  Of course, mother nature wanted to stick it to me even more and the temps skyrocketed from 30 degrees to 80 degrees during my no running week!  I wanted to trip every runner I saw!  After the week I skipped of running, I scaled back the following weeks runs just to get back into it and not overuse my ankle.  And I also had my 18 mile run coming up, which I wanted to be able to do.  I was definitely nervous because I missed a lot of running prior to that 18 miles.  But I did the 18 miles with relatively minor pain. 

But I should have realized something that run.  My knee was starting to bother me a little more than normal. I chalked it up to my "usual" knee pain and thought nothing else about it.

But of course, then my knee started to really hurt the following week.  I bought a knee brace, tried icing it, tried doing ice baths.  But the week before my 20 miler, the pain was pretty severe.  I knew it actually was probably my IT band because of where the pain was located.  And it wasn't in the bone of my knee.  It was at the front/side of my knee.  The week before my 20 miler, I did 1 run.  I was shooting for 8-10.  I managed to squeak out 7 but not before I had to walk the last mile home, literally with tears in my eyes (yes, I overreact sometimes).

I just felt like I couldn't catch a break.  There wasn't a lot of time left before the marathon.  If I can't even run 8 miles, how can I run 26.2 in 3.5 weeks!  Once again I was left feeling defeated.  My 20 miles was in a few days.  I wanted to run it.  I didn't want to hobble through it.  I didn't want to injure myself more.  What I really wanted to do was give up!  I remember thinking, "What if I can't do the marathon??"  I decided to make another appointment with the chiropractor (which I had already seen a few times before this).  I remember telling her once I had knee pain when I went in for something else and literally walked out with no knee pain.  I was hoping she could help me this time.  She got me in Thursday (my 20 miles scheduled for Friday).  She's a rough one!  There is lots of pain and bruising involved with her but if she gets the job done, I don't care!  And she went to work!  In fact, I think I made her sweat as in the middle of it, she had to take off her jacket.  I'm pretty sure this was just as painful as giving birth!  And even though I still had some knee pain when I left, it felt about 80% better.  She also said she thought it was my IT band. 

For my 20 mile run, I had two options.  I could run a straight, flat, slightly boring path with two people I've been training with the entire training season or I could run a hilly loop (twice) with lots of scenery that I've never run on with the guy that I will be sharing a room with for the marathon.  At first I thought the straight flat path.  Then I changed my mind as a lot of my F'N Runner Group was going to be at the hilly loop running.  I thought the change of scenery might help. I also thought the crushed gravel trail might be good for my knees instead of the normal hard concrete.  Plus I needed some quality bonding time with my new roomie!  I'd say there is plenty of bonding time to be had during a 20 mile run that spans at least 3:30 hours!

About 15 miles in, I did regret nothing running the straight flat path.  Physically I felt ok. I just felt really tired.  We walked a bit, then started running but I just felt like I couldn't do it!  I had to stop again and walk. I  apologized to my running partner for stopping.  I remember telling him, "I'm just so tired!"  Images of a nice flat path crossed my mind several times!  I couldn't believe I still had 5 miles left to run.  Almost an hour left of running!  I thought that would be a nice point to start crying!  But I didn't do it.  My training partner gave me a pep talk telling me it's ok to feel tired.  I had been running for about 2:40 hours!  So we took a slightly longer walk, I took some Gu and some water.  And just started running again.  At some point I looked down at my legs as they were running and thought, "How are you still moving?"  I seriously asked my legs this question.  I tend to lose my mind during 20 mile runs.  At that point it's mind over matter.  I get asked this question a lot: "How do you do it? How do you run that long or that far?"  My response is always the same, "I don't know. I just do."  You don't wake up one day and run 20 miles. You build up to it.  You run when it's cold. You run when it's raining. You run when it's hot.  You run when it's windy.

And we finished. 
Me and my roomie Don after the 20 mile run.  Ignore the wild and crazy strands of my hair!
I'm kind of liking the twin shirts!!

Of course, not without some minor discomfort on my right "other" foot/ankle.  I mean, really??  So, I've been resting and icing it since Friday.  I went to the gym Monday for some cross training.

I'm also going to stretch a lot more since I've been slacking a lot!  And I'm going to make friends with my foam roller which I forgot existed because I hate it so much!  But hopefully it will help that dreaded IT band.


  1. All I have to say is... TWINSIES!!!

    It seems like the marathon this time around has been quite an adventure with lots of ups and downs. I guess that will make it that much sweeter when you cross the finish line! I'm so happy that I'll be there to cheer you on and support you along the way! :) Miles = smiles Amanda!! I know you can do this!!

    Also, just think that the marathon course won't have HILLS!!

    1. I know! No hills!! So happy about that! Thanks Kelly!!

  2. You can do it lady. Never give up!!! Love the shirts!

    1. Thanks Mallory! I can't wait, 3 weeks from now it will be all over and I'll have a race recap to report! lol

  3. Wow ... just reading this, I am so proud of you already!!!!

    1. Thanks Maggie! It's been one thing after another this time around. Last time was tough but no injuries. This time...injury after injury! 2 weeks to go! Feeling a little improvement!

  4. I know you haven't had the best luck with injuries, etc BUT you are going to do awesome at Illinois!! Don't let your mind get in your way :)