Pre-Race Speed Bumps
I’m only 2 weeks away from running my very first Marathon, and the last couple of weeks of training have been, well. . .
To start with, last saturday was my last long run that was going to be my longest effort to date! It was a 24.2 mile run that would extend my distance to only 2 miles short of the races finish line and would give me the confidence that I was going to be able to finish.
However, around mile 7 my left foot started aching and I had to stop and stretch both my flexors and extensors. By mile 10 I had stopped to stretch again several more times and the ache had gotten worse. When I hit mile 12.54 I was at a point where I could keep going but was worried about things moving out of ‘discomfort’ and into ‘injury’ territory, so I made a strategic decision to call my lovely wife for a ride home!
Switching into ‘crisis management’ mode, I soaked my foot in an epsom salt bath followed by rolling my arches with a lacrosse ball.
As far as I could tell I had started to develop the initial signs of Plantar Fasciitis but had yet to get so bad as to be un-bearable! I found some suggested stretches that various on-line running coaches ‘swore’ would help me get back to running in short order and began trying all of them out! And that’s how the rest of my week went! Mentally checking to see if my foot felt less sore than the previous day, stretching my foots arch, and rolling it with a lacrosse ball (or foam roller, or both!)
Things seemed to be getting better, so I decided to go ahead and do my first ‘taper’ run this Saturday. The idea of a ‘taper’ run is to take the longest distance you JUST ran the previous weekend and cut that in half so you can continue running, but allow your body to heal up for your event at the same time. However, since my LONGEST DISTANCE run turned out to be 12.54 miles, I pretended like I had actually done my planned 24 miles and cut THAT somewhat in half, doing a route that took me 11.73 miles. I had a hunch that MAYBE my shoes were helping to cause my foots discomfort.
I’m not going to blame them for 100% of it since I think part of it comes from pushing my distance further than normal AND having to work long hours at the same time. I haven’t had the time to get in regular short and intermediate distance runs as I would normally, which is where a lot of my foot strength should come from. However, I had recently started running in a pair of Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13’s, and had only just gotten over 60 miles in them. They are a stiffer shoe than I typically had been running since I was used to the fairly minimal Nike Free RN Distance line. So this Saturday I opted to run my 11.73 miles in my Nike Free RN Distance shoes to see how my foot reacted.
I’m happy to say that my foot was MUCH stronger and felt MUCH better! It did start to ache a LITTLE bit near the end, but nowhere near what it had done the previous weekend! That leads me to today. Two weeks out from running my first marathon and looking at the possibility of running DIFFERENT shoes than I’ve run in so far! Now, I know that of all the advice you will find about how to prepare for a marathon, one of the FIRST things they say is NOT to run in a new pair of shoes! Trust me, I don’t WANT to! However, after a bit of research online, reading a recent issue of Runner’s World Magazine, and talking to a VERY helpful worker at Runners Lane in Santa Clarita, CA, I found a pair of Brooks Ghost 11 that seem to meet all the needs I have! They have a lot of cushion so as not to aggravate my foot and it doesn’t have supports that will try to force my arch into a shape it doesn’t want to hold. Plus, as a bonus feature, the upper is constructed with a bit of padding that will keep the laces from irritating the extensor tendons on the top of my foot! I’m hoping to do several short 3-4 mile runs in them during the next few weeks to see how I like them, and if all goes well, I’ll run with them on race day.
I signed up for the L.A. Marathon six months ago when the registration went live to the general public, and now here I am only two weeks away from the start line. What seemed like a great motivator to train and push my boundaries has quickly turned into a looming deadline! I never want to deal with potential injury during the weeks leading up to a race, but I am pleasantly surprised to learn that I haven’t been overly concerned about my foot! In previous years I would have gotten depressed at failing a training run so close to race day, but I’ve had enough experience with running injuries that I knew this one was something I could probably work out and train around if I was smart about it. It became less of a stumbling block and more of a learning experience! I knew I was going to be able to complete my upcoming race if I did my research and took the steps I needed to in order to rehab my foot the best I could. Of course, I’m keeping in mind that this is my FIRST marathon and just finishing will be a PR! Besides, having to take this one a little slower will only set me up to being able to set a NEW PR on the next one in May!
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