This week was pretty tense. It started off well enough and it ended well. But somewhere in between, I convinced myself that I may have picked up a serious-ish injury. Bloody Google!
Training Schedule – Week 10
- Mon – 4 miles easy
- Tues – Rest
- Wed – 8 miles marathon pace
- Thurs – 4 miles easy
- Fri – Rest
- Sat – Rest
- Sun – 17 Miles Long Slow
I read somewhere (probably a half read copy of Runner’s World next to the bog) that it’s good to mix up terrain when training. I’ve been doing lots of road/pavement training runs of late so with this in mind, I nipped out for an easy 4 mile trail run with the dog on Monday. Jake was more than happy to oblige, tearing off towards his familiar routes around the Kinnaber estate. A bit gutted that the forestry work going on there has more or less ruined a wooded section that we enjoy running together. It was more of a steeplechase louping through all the uprooted trees, stray branches and muddy tracks left behind by the machinery. Actually, I think Jake did enjoy leaping majestically over all the obstacles. Me, not so much.
Mid week, I met up with Jane and Emily C (love how we’re now managing a Wednesday social most weeks). I’d been reading a old favourite book that I’d uncovered while sorting out years of clutter before our big move in the summer. I ended up spending the rest of the evening reading and not sorting out any of the clutter. Procrastination much?
Anyway, one of the experiments ‘Alternating Travel’ is a simple concept. You go for a walk (or a run) and take first road on your right, next on your left, next on your right…etc, until you can go no further. As there were three of us running, I suggested we try it and take turns shouting out which direction to go each time. We managed to avoid dead ends, sometimes forgot whose turn it was, sometimes got left and right mixed up (Jane and I) and had to try to figure out best options for getting back to the start point while keeping within the mileage goal. It was great fun, added randomness to the run that you don’t really appreciate following a planned route and we easily reached the 6 mile target in what felt like no time. Thanks again ladies! I made up the 2 miles running to and from home.
On the way home, I started to notice shin pain in my right leg that had been niggling for a week or so. I had been doing quite a lot of weekly miles, so had assumed it was just tight muscles. It tended to ease off once I warmed up, this was the first time I felt it towards the end of a run. Cue an appointment with Dr Google.
I honestly wish I hadn’t looked.
I self-diagnosed shin splints, or worse.. a tibial stress fracture. Getting a grip of myself and not succumbing to injury hysteria took some effort. Maybe it’s because I’m past the point of being able to recover sufficiently from either of these in time for the marathon, I had the fear. Obviously, it would be silly to run on Thursday. I took the day off, such was my abject horror at having to stop running altogether. By Friday, still fretting, I failed to notice that actually, my leg was much improved. I had to really poke at my calf to elicit the same level of discomfort felt on Wednesday. Still, I took Saturday off too, just to be sure. I also had a go at some calf raises, single and two legged, resistance band ankle strengthening and picking up towels with my toes….which the dog thought was a fun new game and kept running off with the towel.
I went ahead with my 17 mile run on Sunday.
Looking back, I think I have become a bit of a slave to the training plan. Having a extra rest day is just not something I would have considered up to this point. What a difference it made though! Sunday’s run was my best long run yet. Almost effortless at some points. I even added some hills. It took around 5 miles before I was convinced that my shin was ok, with every little twinge or burn given scrupulous assessment. I was hyper aware of my running form too. I hadn’t really considered before how my foot strike, cadence or posture might put extra load on my legs and bones. The best piece of advice I think I read/watched during hours of google/youtube research was to imagine your legs being light and loose. It’s hard to describe, but I now notice how over the course of a long run, my legs do get increasingly tight and rigid. Remembering to loosen up was something of a revelation. I also stopped a few times to stretch, which helped too.
Another thing I’ve noticed on long runs is how often I stop (take photos, enjoy the scenery, chat to pals etc). Sometimes a 2.5 hour run becomes a 3.5 hour ‘elapsed time’ run with all the stops. While that’s totally fine, I enjoy chatting and taking photos, I do recognise that I’m not really going to be able to stop so often during the marathon if I want to get a decent time. So I set off on Sunday with the notion of stopping only to drink water, take a gel (I forgot to bring them!) or stretch.
- Moving time 2:43,
- Elapsed time 2:53
- Photos taken 0 – sorry
Pretty pleased with that!
I ran the 17 miles at an average pace of 9:39 min/mile – my marathon pace. I know, I know, that’s not what the plan says. Yet again, left to my own devices, I failed at slowing down. I’m just going to have to accept that I have a pace my body naturally likes to run at – some days it’s slower, some days it’s faster. If I can manage most of the marathon at that pace, I’ll be delighted. I have a 18 mile run next weekend, so I’m considering dropping one of my mid week runs again so I’m well rested. I’ll keep an eye on the shin too. At time of writing I have no pain, no bruising and no swelling. If it does turn out to be shin splints or worse, then I’m just going to have to accept it and rehabilitate accordingly.
Thanks for reading and if you are currently in injury corner, I have a whole new perspective on and respect for how that must feel!