while i’ve only been running for about 3 years, i have had my fair share of injuries. i had posterior tibial tendon dysfunction in my left foot in 2012, a stress fracture of my right calcanea in 2013 and most recently there was suspicion of a labral tear on my right side in 2014. the stress fracture was definitely the worst because i was out of running for 6 weeks and wearing a freaking boot. the labral tear was the most frustrating because i went to countless doctors and had to have exams, an x-ray, mri, mr-arthrography and a steroid injection only for them to tell me it is *probably* a labral tear, but they can’t be sure, so just take it easy. right, because runners take that advice. the longest lasting was the tendonitis because i absolutely refused to stop training for my first half marathon to take care of it. that meant from about february of 2012 to may of 2014 i wore an ankle brace on my left foot every time i ran. it wasn’t until i took some time off in may to rest my hip that my tendonitis decided to go away (knock on wood!). I’ve learned a thing or two about injuries, and i have gotten pretty good at playing dr. google when needed.
i’ve done so much research on my injuries, i feel like i know what elements must be present or absent for me to not get hurt. my training is structured so that i won’t be sidelined in 2015, and i am hoping by sticking to the points below i will be able to gain some speed and stay healthy
if i get a wild hair, i will revisit this page to knock some sense in to me.
- ease in to things – when i began running i was using couch to 5k, and i did all of my miles on either a treadmill or a gravel track at the park. as soon as i graduated i moved all of my miles to pavement. this was a bad idea, as i was suddenly upping my mileage as well as moving from softer, more impact-forgiving surfaces to jarring pavement. i also decided that my friends had cuter shoes than i did and i needed to toss my white and navy stability shoes and only wear new neon kinvaras that i bought based on looks alone. what a rookie mistake!!! looking back, i am not surprised at all that PTTD crippled me on my first ever 4 mile run. from here on out i will introduce things slowly including upping mileage, speedwork and shoes.
- be consistent – at the end of 2012 i was at a really great place in my running. i had just nailed a 12 minute PR on my half marathon time, my average pace during training runs was finally dropping from the 10s to the 9s, and one of my best friends had found the joy of running and we were starting to sign up for races together. at that time i also started a new job which has quite a commute and takes up more of my free time than my previous job. my runs started to diminish from 5 times a week to 4, then quickly to 3, and soon after that i was running only on saturday and sunday. this downward spiral started in november and by april i could no longer keep up with my friends, but for some reason i thought since i could still run 7 miles i could probably run a half marathon. when i hit the wall at mile 7 and walked most of the 2nd half of the race, i vowed i would get back home and run 5 days a week again and 3 of those would be FAST. gah, what a dumbass. cue the heel stress fracture. since then i’ve learned to make time to run. if i want to be a runner, i have to run no matter if i have to do it at the ass-crack of dawn, after a long day’s work or on my lunch break. i have to make the freaking time. i’ve made it a point to be more consistent with my mileage since my marathon in november. i did a reverse taper and then slowly began building my base and have managed to hover around 20 miles per week since then.
- easy is the opposite of hard – i used to try to run as fast as i could for every run. i had no gauge of easy or hard, and my race times were usually the same as my normal run paces. over the summer while jenny and i were marathon training, we followed a plan she downloaded to her garmin. it had us running at different intensities based on heart rate. it wasn’t until then that i realized how slowly i could truly run. i also realized that when i was forced to slow down i could complete my long runs and not be totally sore the next day! it didn’t leave me aching or tired. since then i have tried to be mindful and wear my heart rate monitor for all of my easy runs and for my warmups to my workouts. i aim to stay in heart rate zone 2 which is about 139-154 for me. sometimes it is hard for me to get in and stay in the zone at what i think is an easy pace, and other days i cannot keep my heart rate down no matter how slow i am going! i know stress, sleep, alcohol and other elements are factors and i try to keep that in mind. it is a very humbling experience when it’s 80 degrees outside and you can’t go faster than 12 minutes per mile without your heart rate monitors screaming at you to slow down. keeping my easy runs truly easy has allowed me to work really hard on my workouts and not experience too much soreness post-run. if i can get a couple of good PRs this year i think i will try MAF training because there really is something to this.
- keep speed work at ~20% of weekly mileage – december of 2013 i decided that i wanted to run a half marathon under 2 hours and i wanted to do it now, dammit! i downloaded a super cool app that spit out a training plan for me based on previous race times, but it didn’t take in to account that i had never done any formal speedwork. the first few weeks were easy miles (which back then meant as fast as you can to me), but very quickly it added AT workouts, repetitions and tempo runs usually with 2 out of 3 of those in one week. so here i was going from zero speedwork to running about 15-20 miles per week total with 7 of those miles fast portions of my workouts. i lasted to the last week of january and felt an awful pain strike me in the middle of a 6 mile tempo run. i limped back to the car unable to complete the run and honestly haven’t been the same since. this was definitely a case of too much, too soon, too fast. keeping the speedwork at 20% of my total weekly mileage still allows me to get an interval run and a tempo or progression run in so long as i get a good warmup and cooldown and 2 easy runs each week. i am also making it a point to make my easy tuesday run at least half the distance of my weekend long run.
- mix it up – after i kept getting injured on my right side i realized that i probably have some serious imbalances and the repetitive nature of running was bringing them out. i read an article on runblogger.com about the benefits of rotating between different types of shoes. i now wear different shoes for every time of run. over the past 3 years i have owned pretty much every single brand out there, but this goldilocks has finally found her match in the brooks pure line. i wear the purecadence for my easy runs, pureflow for tempo runs, pureconnect for speedwork and racing and the puregrit for trails. they are all similar, but i can notice the differences and definitely think switching my shoes up is helping my feet get stronger and taking some of the repetitive stress out of the sport. i’m also trying to mix up my routes, rolling hills vs flat terrain, and incorporate more trail running. i will admit i do not love the mountain biking trails here. luckily we have some gravel paths and cross country courses pretty close though.
- cross training – does any runner really love to cross train? wouldn’t we all rather be running? i know i would! but, through my various injuries i have learned a thing or two about the importance of cross training and improving your weaknesses. i had physical therapy after my stress fracture on my heel. i learned a lot about my weak areas and imbalances at that time, and i am working twice a week to remedy those. i know my core is weak, my glutes are lazy and my arm muscles are non-existent, but i am working on them! i can tell that the work i’ve done in the past couple of months has helped my core and butt get a little stronger. i would like to get some more time on the bike as well. once i start running before work that will free up lunchtime to do something different. if i can run and do strength on the same day then i can ride the bike on the other days. i’ve been pretty consistent with doing a lunge matrix before every run and the myrtl routine after every run. i don’t know if it is just because my trunk is so weak, but the myrtl NEVER gets easier to me. it is a hurt so good kind of thing.
as much as i hate the saying, “listen to your body”, it really is the best way to stay healthy. i’ve gotten to the point now where i think i can honestly tell the difference between being tired or sore and being injured.
tomorrow is another day of ass-crack of dawn running. wish me luck!!!