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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five things that almost ruined my running.

Since in a year I went from "invincible" (marathons back to back weekends, one of which was actually 27 miles; speedwork the day after a half marathon PR; 20 minutes off my marathon time in a year) to an injury-prone, decrepit specimen of a former runner, I decided it was time to review how I got off track.

1. Just run! I had so many winter races on my calendar that I actually put off strength training until the spring.I felt like all I had time for were long runs and speedwork.
The result: Weak core and repeated circles around the park in one direction led to a cycle of SIJ and adductor issues that precipitated chronic osteitis pubis.
The fix: I put the strength training back in, replacing one day of running with a day of strength only, plus I have another day with running plus core.

2. Flexibility? Huh? I just ran. I stretched if I thought it would feel good.
The result: Tightness that could have led to a stress fracture, and nearly ruined my hips.
The fix: I don't think static stretching makes sense, but I now foam-roll before and after every run to keep things loose, and I schedule a short session of yoga for runners once a week.

The result: Not enough recovery time led to fatigue, poor race times, and damaged soft tissue.
The fix: I will try to scale back the distance races but keep shorter distances as workouts.

4. I never respond to my body's cues. Sore? Run it out! Tired? Run it out! Pain in the right calf? Run it out!
The result: I worsened two injuries.
The fix: Now I'm taking my doctor's advice: If there is any discomfort when I run, I will stop immediately, walk home, and take off until it goes away. I'm just not good enough at recognizing pain!

5. I overestimated my fitness and abilities last fall. I came back from injury to a tough marathon training plan and dove right in. I felt fine at the beginning, but in a month or two I was slowing down at races, feeling tired during the day, and missing workout paces.
The result: Major injury and a few bad races.
The fix: I need to make sure that I do three things: ease into training slowly, keep my mileage on the low side (65 max, better at 45 MPW), and keep easy runs easy.


  1. It's amazing how the best-intended running adventures can turn so sour. And it's not just you that does these things. I got myself into a black hole of vitamin and mineral deficiency thanks to many of the things you mentioned. It's kind of like the kid that loves a kitten so much that she hugs it to death.

    You (like me) learned some lessons the hard way. The good news is that now you know and you can come back stronger than ever! It also makes us appreciate those grand running adventures even more!

    Best wishes with your continued recovery!

  2. This is a good reminder! Some of these are difficult to do. I am especially bad at figuring out if a pain is injury or just my regular self. Like last night - out of nowhere the inside of my right ankle started hurting. Never felt that before in my life! I had no idea what to do, so just kept running. It got worse for a mile or so - then suddenly went away. ???? This sort of thing happens frequently. UGH!

  3. I need to bookmark this. So smart to use this past year as a lesson to yourself so you get some benefit from all the frustration. Good luck with the return and with remembering all this when you need to!

  4. Sometimes we need to learn hard lessons to really learn them! I'm glad you took the time to analyze and put the fixes into play. It will pay off!

  5. Good post! I know I am guilty of a few of those things at times. Sadly it often take s a major injury to snap us back into reality. We can only push our bodies so far and improvement takes time. Not something that can be willed and rushed into happening. I like your dr.'s advice. I need to bookmark this post as well!

  6. Yes, I think we are all guilty of all or some of these. When I was injured in 2012 I did a ton of strength and pre-post run self care and swore that I would keep it up. Hmm, I have kept some up, mainly my core routine and self massage (instead of rolling), and this has kept me healthy for over a year now. I am so excited to see you back into running!

  7. Hindsight is always 20/20. Print this post out and keep it handy when you're back up and running!!!

  8. Man, I think we all can relate to #4 ... when things start hurting a little on a run, I often say to myself - actually audibly - "Run through it!" Whether its pain or simple fatigue, I try to push through without stopping, which when it's pain involved, is the worst possible thing I can do. But I think over the years we accumulate false data because it seems to have worked so many times before. Glad you're running again.

  9. I changed the direction of my repeated circles around the park today! Great advice, and a good reminder that I need to work on strength/conditioning more often than just 30 half-hearted minutes a week. =)

  10. I am guilty of all 5 and guess who is not running right now....
    I am planning on being better at all 5 from now on.