Monday, March 19, 2012

On the shelf for a while (a little long..)?

So here's the deal.......for those of you out there in 'Netville.........when you've had to deal with a running-related injury, how did you know how long to sit it out to help things heal.  I'm not talking about your everyday run-of-the-mill soreness, but the kind of hurt that will make you stop running and start walking home?

I ran 18 miles on the Boston Marathon course last Saturday, and by Sunday morning, there was soreness in the anterior tibial ligament (see, I looked it up!) of my right foot.  I didn't try to run on it until Tuesday, but after little more than a mile, I felt the need to shut it down.  I didn't want to take the chance of making things worse, so I figured I'd play it safe. 

So I didn't run on it at all until yesterday's half marathon (The Half of Quincy - Quincy, MA).  My time goals for the day?   Well, in my most delerious fantasies, I was actually considering RACING this half, and shooting for a new PR (2:01).  Had I been perfectly whole, I probably would've gone for it and seen just how hard I could go for 13.1.......but it was pretty clear all week that it wasn't going to be happening. Considering how my focus in training has been keeping things "under control", I then tried to think about just what would be a reasonable time goal given that I had no idea if I'd even be able to finish the race. I then settled on a range between 2:10 and 2:15, figuring that adding roughly a minute per mile from my previous PR would be reasonable.

It's amazing to look at the difference between 2:01 and 2:15.....when I look at the results from this half marathon, that's the difference between finishing 853rd and finishing 1183rd out of 1426 finishers. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm slow as molasses on my best day, but anytime I pin a number to my running shirt, I'm going to try to do my best. Even though I know I'm always going to finish in the bottom half, I still want to be at the UPPER end of that bottom half. In this particular half marathon, the dividing line (time-wise) was 1:56.34, so if I hadn't been hurt, would I have acheived my goal? It was a gorgeous day to run, so I truly believe that a sub-2 hour half-marathon was within my grasp......thankfully, there will be other days.

The temps at the 9am start were in the mid-40's, so I was wearing lightweight gloves......and a long-sleeve jersey under my favorite red Asics jersey, along with blue Adidas shorts. I love my Adidas shorts...mostly because they're super comfortable and they have a handy little zippered pocket in back. I had stuffed 2 GU packets in there, along with the key to my Honda, but shortly after starting to run, it became obvious that leaving all that in my back pocket would pull my shorts down. While I'm not a modest person, I don't believe in running naked, so clearly I needed to come up with a solution....QUICKLY! I reached back, took out the GU and put one inside each glove, leaving the car key in the back pocket. I certainly won't be wearing the blue shorts for the marathon! In my previous marathon, I wore my black Adidas shorts which, while comfortable, fit tighter overall and will allow me to cram 4 or 5 GU's in the little pocket, although I might try to either pin them to my shorts or find some other solution.

Anyhow, I started off fairly conservatively, running the first 4 miles in about 39 minutes (9:24, 9:30, 10:06, 9:52), when I first started feeling some little twinges out of the foot....nothing major, but just a little "uh oh". I then backed off my pace, just trying to relax and enjoy the beautiful day. The temps had warmed up dramatically, and the breezes felt nice on the skin. There were also long stretches along the beach, affording the runners nice views of Boston. Of course, by backing off my pace, I started to give back time in miles 5-8 (10:26, 10:08, 10:35, 10:21) by walking more than I had intended. In addition, the course was hillier than I had imagined (or had been led to believe by the course description on the website!).

Around mile 8, I started to feel some pain coming from my already-enflamed tendon. At that point, I tried to relax (DON'T PANIC - right, Mike?) and kept moving forward. My goal was to run as much as possible and bring the thing home as best I could, but I needed to be careful that I didn't alter my stride to try to alleviate the pain. It wasn't that bad, more like twinges...but I knew that it was going to probably cause me difficulty after I finished.....and I was determined to finish! So onwards I splits for miles 9-12 (10:41, 10:41, 11:00, 10:52) were indicative of how I was feeling....and how much I was walking. My final split (10:17) reflected my desire to hit the line, stop my Garmin, collect my medal, and get home to my family.

So I finished.....2:13.03

All things considered, I'm totally happy with my "performance". As I sit here staring at my still slightly swollen lower right leg, I cannot complain. I take a great amount of pride in the fact that I finished what I started and managed to do it in a way that didn't end up with me in a wheelchair. With 4 weeks (OMG....4 weeks!!!!) left until the Boston Marathon, I know I'm going to be able to make the distance, but I want to be able to run strong and finish well. My only real concern right now is how much time off to take before trying to run again. While I was scheduled to run 20 miles this weekend, that's DEFINITELY not going to happen. I might be starting my taper a bit earlier than originally intended, but I probably should run a few times between now and the Marathon. I'm thinking I'm going to wait until the weekend to run my tendon an opportunity to heal a bit.

To make matters worse, the weather here in New England has been RIDICULOUS....temps every day in the 70's. While I'd definitely wish for cooler temps on Marathon Monday, the temps are perfect for my training. Living here in New England for so long, I know how crazy our spring weather can be, so the fact that we've had virtually no snow to speak of this winter, it could be snowing on April 16th, so I'm not taking anything for granted. It's just damned frustrating not being able to run when the weather is so conducive......but I'm just afraid to really do damage.

So I'm officially "on the shelf"......the complicating factor is that I'm a classroom teacher, which requires me to be on my feet all day every day. Rest, ice (when I can), elevation, ibuprofen.....they're all good, but it's next to impossible for me to partake of any of that when I'm with my students. I know....I know.....once again, Bill goes "Boo Hoo". I'm just going to keep doing the best I can to get ready for my appointment with Boston in 4 weeks.

BTW, I'm runner #22243, Wave 3, Corral 5.......wish me luck!


  1. I find a good Orthopedic doc. If there's a run club in your area that has a forum see if anyone has mentioned a good one. It sounds like you could very well need an athletic ankle wrap to stabilize your foot/ankle. I feel your panic & I don't want you to keep hurting. Unfortunately, with age our balance can get off a bit. With me, it's my left hip...which causes Left IT Band issues, which have caused my right ankle to "carry the load." Just my 2 cents.... We are all pulling for your to conquer that course. :)

  2. Good luck! What I would say about running injuries is to let them heal, and give them a lot of time. Coming back a week too early can lead to months of down time. If you are ready for the marathon, you are ready; the last 4 weeks won;t make or break you. Yes, you may not run as fast as you might like, but if you come back too early might not be running at all. did just run a half marathon so it isn't debilitating. I'd take it light/easy and improve on strength, core, etc.

  3. I am a firm believer that you got all the bad luck out on this race, so you have nothing but good running left for the marathon! (at least it has always worked out that way in my experience) And i would find a way to sit as much as possible at work. Make those kids come to you! Or pretend you are FDR and give them a theatrical history lesson....

  4. Hoping you heal quickly (if nothing else, to clear out the frustration so you can relax!). It sounds like you are doing everything you can - be kind to yourself...

  5. (and btw, 2:13 is nothing to sneeze at - congrats on a SMART race!)

  6. You ran well in that half (especially well, since you had the foot issue), and should rightly be proud of that accomplishment. Each race presents its own challenges, nd race directors almost NEVER tell the "complete" truth about the course...they're all 'flat and fast' ;-).

    Bill, I know you'll do well at Boston, but I wish you luck all the same. I completely agree with your assessment of the situation, and your course of action seems prudent. To the extent that your job and life allows, just stay off it and set the training aside for now (unless you have some non-impact method of working out that doesn't exacerbate the problem).

    As long as you are able to put in a few 4 to 6 mile training runs in the couple of weeks prior to the marathon, I think you'll be fine. A great deal of the task of completing a marathon and running well is mental, so if you are not physically injured, you shouldn't have a great deal to be concerned about.

    Keep us informed, and speedy healing to you !

  7. You did exactly the right thing, IMHO. You put in a ton of time for Boston point spoiling it! Besides 2:13 is a fine time for an easy half.

    I hope you iced the snot out of your ankle after you got home!

    After you are done with Boston you might find a good PT person with RUNNING experience that could suggest and show you some exercises and stretches etc to do with your foot.

  8. I've come to despise "uh oh" moments when it comes to running. They rarely turn out good for me, but it sounds like you are playing it smart (unlike myself). Best of luck with the rest of your training and conquering Heart Break!

    BTW - I've found that my students are super supportive when they hear about my upcoming race or need to rest tired/sore legs...

  9. keep doing what you are doing. do not run! you've got a base so you should be ok for a couple of weeks with those as your taper. and after Boston take real time off. i'm in the hurt locker myself right now and i'm taking 10 days off before i go for a test run.

  10. Lucky you! You made it to Boston! Good luck to you and I hope to run it someday myself but I am getting through an injury and I hope to be back to chasing Boston soon!

    1. thanks, B.B.B! Just joined your blog....hope you get through your injury soon, as I'm dealing with my own issues right now!

  11. Well done!
    Just be super cautious though. I once had an injury that I kept running on and ended up not running for six months. Not to scare you ... Just be smart about it :)

    My running Shortz

  12. Bill, I don't know...I would take it easy and lay off of it for a few days. maybe PT for some electrical stem, soft tissue and what not? Be careful! Boston is right around the corner and I am sure you will be great...but be smart too.

    I know...coming from the one who is sidelined herself and trying to "find" ways to "jog" instead of "run", ha ha!

    feel better!

  13. Running a half after hurting yourself is up to you...I just hope you were careful. Being sidelined is harder mentally than physically, I think. Congrats on your time as well!