So two weeks out from doing the marathon and I have been diagnosed with ITB friction syndrome. This is a really common overuse injury in runners. It typically presents as pain on the lateral or outside of the knee while running, this is the spot where the ITB rubs alongside the lateral femoral condyle causing inflammation.
Common causes are:
· Muscle imbalances
· Weak gluts
· Worn out shoes that are not supportive enough
· Running on an angle (or running a track in the same direction all the time)
· Running downhill
· Just doing a lot of kilometres
My physio has prescribed RICE for the inflammation, foam rolling and stretches and to not run for at least a week…… Not really what I wanted to hear but if I don’t get on top of it my chances of finishing the marathon are slim. My physio made the comment that it is very rarely lack of fitness that stops a runner from completing a marathon, it’s pain. I think that is so true because to even contemplate running a marathon you need to have done the training and be pretty fit, you also tend to be mentally strong so it would take more than fatigue or muscle burn to cause you to stop.
So I have been on my bike, well actually not my bike, it’s my 11 year old daughter, Lily’s, bike. I took my bike out of the dark hole it had been hiding in for the past five years and washed it down, got rid of all the cobwebs, pumped up the tyres and took it for a spin. By the time I got back the tyres were flat. Pumped them up again and again they deflated, obviously a puncture but as I have absolutely no idea how to fix a puncture the only other choice is Lily’s bike. Her bike is a pale blue push bike with a nice little brown basket in the front, it has no gears and is more pretty than functional, but a bike’s a bike….
I have to say riding alongside the Life Fit runners has been a real eye opener for me. The first thing I noticed was they all run pretty fast! I thought I would have to ride really slowly to ride alongside them but I actually had to put a bit of effort in! When it came to hills the runners took off ahead of me whereas I was out of my seat huffing and puffing to get the bike up the hill! I was pulling so hard on the handle bars I felt the bike was going to flip backwards and I had to get off and walk!
It was at this stage that a little old woman (who must have been about 70 if she was a day) flew past me on her skinny wheeled super duper, 24 speed bike. She hardly even looked puffed, and not a grey hair out of place under her bright red helmet. I am not used to being over taken by wee old women so I got back on and started pedalling hard to catch up to her. We were neck and neck at the crest of the hill and then there was a steep descent on the other side.
I had already discovered by this point that the brakes on Lily’s bike where very ineffective (in fact the first time I was free wheeling down a hill I had to jump off at the bottom to stop myself from crashing into a hedge!) So with that knowledge I knew I had to engage the brakes early on so I wouldn’t go too fast but surely fast enough to beat granny?! But Noooo…. Granny took off! She must have been doing 50km per hour and had absolutely no fear, she might as well have turned around and given me the bird. Touche old woman!
So I am relegated to bike riding (which I do poorly obviously) but it should give me the necessary rest I need then I can start back next week for the last week of training! Wish me luck!!
Last week was week 11 of our 14 week marathon training schedule. During my long runs I have had ongoing issues with both my Achilles but in my last long run of 33km I started to develop knee pain. I used to suffer with knee pain a lot when I ran but since I incorporated strength training into my schedule a few years ago it had all but disappeared. I don’t think it is unusual however for old aches and pains to resurface when you are doing the sort of kilometres we are doing but by the end of the run the pain in my knee was intense. But 33km done! I did it and was happy to have our longest run done and confident I could do more come marathon day.
By the next day however I couldn’t bend or straighten my left leg, the pain was centred around the back of my knee, probably a hamstring strain I thought and it will just go away. It did go away, after three days of doing NO training. I hate having to rest but was relieved the pain had gone away.
Wednesday night we ran 17km in really hot and humid conditions, it was horrible. We looked like drowned rats at the end from sweating so much. But every run counts and that was another one under our belts. Went home quite proud of myself until….. I started vomiting…. Vomiting isn’t nice for the person who is doing the vomiting but one of my twins (Daisy) has an absolute phobia about vomiting. She takes it as a personal affront to her sensibilities if she finds out anyone has vomited within a 10km radius of her. She was disgusted with me! She shouted at dear hubby demanding WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER??? WHY IS SHE DOING THAT?? Dear hubby explained it was probably not a stomach bug (Daisy’s greatest fear because she would obviously be at risk of catching it) but that I was dehydrated from training in the heat. Dear hubby and Daisy have both told me I am never to train for another marathon ever ever again. Promise me mum!
Still nauseated and weak from being sick all night I got up the next morning to go for a short little 6.5km run with the Life Fit runners. By 5km the pain at the back of my knee started and I had to stop.
So here we are three weeks away from the marathon and I can’t run, what do you do? Here’s my action plan:
1. Ice, ice and more ice to decrease pain and inflammation
2. Anti inflammatories – strongest you can take and take them religiously every 8 hours or whatever it says on the pack
3. Acupuncture – I still have a few needles lying around from my acupuncture days so I whacked a few of them into my knee.
4. Massage – Went to the local chinese guy $25 for 20 minutes and he did a great job and, finally,
5. Go to your clairvoyant – What? You don’t do that? But how do you know what’s going to happen?
Well if you don’t believe then I won’t bother telling you what she said……..
Oh, okay then, she said
“Overall the marathon experience will be a positive one for all the runners in the group who do it, in fact, at the end of the race everyone will be saying
“WHEN’S THE NEXT ONE!!””
(Don’t worry Daisy I won’t be saying that!)
As I was running my second 33km in a week I wonder to myself, why am I doing this? Seriously! It’s definitely not enjoyable and it’s certainly not fun, so why do marathoners do it? And, by and large, they do it more than once! (Not me by the way but other lunatics).
I started thinking about what or who motivates me. It isn’t famous runners or brilliant athletes, it’s my fellow runners. My running group is made up of people from all ages and all walks of life but we all have a common goal and that it to cross that finish line proud of ourselves and each other for having done what we thought we couldn’t.
When I am running and my Achilles tendons are screaming at me to stop, I know my running pals are suffering just as much and if they aren’t going to stop neither am I. Occasionally though the “I can’t do this” voices win and you will only run 20km instead of the scheduled 30. But when did 20km become only 20km? 20km is a long way! Drive it in your car and even then it’s a long way!
When the “I can’t do this voice” starts telling me “This is beyond you, just stop, turn around now, no one will know…” I have a few mantras I repeat to myself. My main one is “Never give up.” This was first coined by Winston Churchill (not Lorna Jane although I love her too) but Churchill is one of my all time heroes.
I love the story about Churchill where he was asked to give a speech in 1941 at his old school, Harrow School. The boys there were in total awe of him, quite rightly as they were obviously in the middle of the second world war and they were being addressed by their prime minister. The famous quote from that speech is:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in.”
One of my other heroes is Nelson Mandela and my favourite quote from him is
“It always seems impossible, until it’s done”
I love motivational quotes and so do lots of other people if facebook, pinterest and tumblr are anything to go by. Here are some of my favs
“I run like a girl, try and keep up”
“Whether it’s hard or whether it’s easy, it won’t last”
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
― Dean Karnazes
“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart” Bill Bowerman
“There will be a day when I can no longer run…. Today is not that day”
“Run like Ryan Gosling is waiting at the finish line for you with a puppy”
Week 9 of training done and dusted. Four more weeks to go! Can’t believe we have gotten this far. We did our longest training run yesterday which was 33km. This is the farthest we will run on our training program and it gives me a huge sense of achievement that we have done it and more importantly felt that we could have kept going.
My running group and I are suffering though… we all have niggly aches and pains that, at this stage, we have to manage if we want to keep going. Out of my running buddies Geoff is doing pretty well in spite of bleeding nipples and a feet full of blisters, Ros has runners knee and pain on the top of her foot and my Achilles tendonitis on my right ankle is now also on my left. We are doing everything we are told by our physios and massage therapists to manage our aches and pains and I think everything we are feeling is probably pretty normal at this stage of our training.
What we probably haven’t embraced enough though is our post run recovery regime. Post run it is imperative that we:
1. Hydrate – water, water, water and/or electrolyte drinks. Even though our long run starts at 6am we are running for 3 to 4 hours and we are seriously dripping with sweat by the end of it. You lose so much fluid and salts in sweat and it is so important to replace these fluids after your run.
2. Carbs and protein – my buddy Jamie swears by chocolate milk post run as the best recovery drink and it really does tick all the boxes. Your body needs carbs and protein in a ratio of 4:1 and chocolate milk delivers as does banana and peanut butter on toast or natural yoghurt with granola and berries. The important thing is to have your carbs and protein within 30 minutes of finishing your run.
3. Stretch – not just go through the motions but really stretch each muscle group including quads, calves and hamstrings holding each stretch for approx. 30 seconds. If you have a roller, get it out and use it. Concentrate on ITB, quads and gluts, your body will thank you (not at the time but later!!)
4. Have a proper healthy meal within 1 to 1.5 hours post run
5. Ice bath ?????? – seriously? I could not make myself do this but swimming at the Rock pool in Kiama after, that is a possibility. The cold water helps to ease aching muscles and increases the repair process.
6. Have a nap! I have to have a nap after a long run, not only for recovery but to stop me from being an absolute b**tch to dear hubby and the kids!!
Eight weeks ago when I started training for a marathon I asked,
“How hard can it be?”
In this day and age running a marathon is not considered that big a deal. People do so much more than just run 42.2km. Look at people who run ultra marathons or marathoners who run 50 marathons in 50 days, or the 7x7x7 event where runners run 7 marathons on 7 different continents in 7 days.
But you know what it is a big deal and it is much harder than I thought it would be. I have learnt so much during the last 8 weeks, including:
1. Nutrition is important
I have learnt it is important to get the nutrition right. If, like me, you suffer from IBS or just a dodgy tum this can take a bit of trial and error but it needs to be sorted or you are in a world of trouble (see my previous blog “The case of the exploding bum and other stories”).
A training buddy of mine lent me the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. The author goes on a quest to find the Tarahumara tribe who live in the Copper Canyons of Mexico and are rumoured to be the greatest runners of all time. In the book it briefly mentions a chia seed drink that the tribe take before they run. So googling Tarahumara and chia seeds (as you do) led me to a great blog called The No Meat Athlete. The No Meat Athlete has read the same book and made up his version of the drink. http://www.nomeatathlete.com/tarahumara-pinole-chia-recipes/
So I tried it before my long run and seriously it really worked! It may be placebo but I don’t care, it feels like it gives me a boost of energy, it’s all healthy ingredients and it doesn’t mess with your digestion. Win win! Try it and then let me know if you felt any different on your run.
2. Marathon training is as much a mental test as a physical one.
If you are getting the kms in and doing the right amount of training runs you would think that would give you the strength and endurance to do a marathon, right? Turns out though, you need to be as strong mentally as physically. If you pit two runners against each other who are physically the same and have done the same amount of training, the one who believes in their ability and doesn’t doubt themselves will undoubtedly do better. The negative head chatter can really mess you up if you don’t have the ability to shut it up!
3. Time is all relative
For the first time in my life I really don’t care about the time I do a race in. I just want to finish the race feeling like I had a good race and didn’t hit the dreaded wall. Unless you are an elite athlete it’s not like you are trying to win the race. Most people just want to do a good time for them. What might be a good time for me might be really slow for others or vice versa. But you know? No-one really cares. Everyone wants everyone else to do their own best time.
4. Running with a group is a tremendous bonding experience.
I have talked before about the joy of running with my running buddies and catching up on each other’s lives. In our time poor world it is great to be able to catch up with friends and train at the same time.
In my long run this week my running group and I ran 28kms, the furthest most of us have ever run. We had all ran the same route (except for Linda who frequently gets lost and ends up running 5 kms more than she should have) and probably all had the same thoughts, head chatter, doubts, fears etc (except Geoff who is a little bit odd and really God knows what goes on in his head!)
It felt like a real shared experience for me, like we had all been through the same battle and lived to tell the tale.
I really admire people who can train on their own for a marathon but for me one of the greatest joys has been the shared experience with my running group. We have supported and helped each other and will continue to do so until race day and that alone is making the whole thing worth it. (I have to add the caveat though, I am never doing this again!!!)