Training for the London Marathon has started out a little differently than I had hoped!
Let me recap last week for you:
Monday: Hiked Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, about 2 hours
Tuesday: Rest. Returned to Minneapolis
Wednesday: More rest.
Thursday: [solidcore] with Tom as the teacher. He’s one of the owners- awesome, awesome class! I go to Arms & Abs at solidcore a fair amount, but it had been a long time since I went to the regular class. So fun!
Friday: Easy 4 mile run with Matilda
Saturday: 7.5 mile run with Matilda
First, a walk! I took a stroll with an out-of-town visitor, fellow blogger Katie from Prairie Sun Life. Katie was in town for a conference and we had originally planned to meet up for a run. She has a vizsla too and wanted to meet Matilda! Actually, her vizsla Harvey “gave” Matilda this cute made-in-Montana toy. How thoughtful is that!
Unfortunately, due to injury, I couldn’t run; she was still willing to meet for a walk though, which was lovely. We were able to enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures with a stroll around downtown Minneapolis by the Stone Arch Bridge, with a stop at Mill City Running (where I purchased a pair of the Oiselle Holepunch Distance Shorts– stay tuned for a review!)
Wait, what? Pool running? Injury?
You read that correctly. Nothing worse than an injured runner, right? Especially when its been 66 degrees in Minneapolis! Argh.
Here’s the scoop: Leading up to the Phoenix Marathon, I had started to have some pain in my lower leg. I would ice it after runs and it generally wasn’t too bad. But it was there. Then I ran 26.2 miles on it; sure, I felt it during the marathon, but it wasn’t unbearable and it didn’t affect my performance. I mean, there’s always pain in a marathon, right?
Post-Phoenix, we hiked Camelback and I felt recovered from the race, but that pain in my leg was still there and worse than before. I didn’t run on it until Friday, when I ran an easy 4 miles with Matilda. I had to stop during that run because of the pain in my shin. I sort of massaged it and was able to jog home, but it was concerning, especially because it didn’t loosen up with the run- it got worse…not a good sign!
Saturday, I had 7 recovery miles on my schedule. Since we were (finally!) moving into our new kitchen, I decided just to run from home with Matilda. Those 7.5 miles felt okay…okay, I’ll be honest. There was still pain.
After that run, I had my weekly call with my coach and I was honest with him too. No more runner’s denial. I described my pain and when it was occurring. He said it sounded like a stress fracture, or at least the start of one. He’s not a doctor, but he’s an elite runner with a lot of experience, as well as a lot of experience coaching runners.
He asked how it felt if I jumped on one leg- well, that hurt. Bad sign.
His recommendation? Get an MRI to know for sure if it’s a stress fracture. For now-no running. Assume it is a stress fracture and train accordingly.
I was anxious to get the diagnosis process started, so I spent a sunny Saturday afternoon waiting at the walk-in clinic at TRIA (I was there for 4 hours!) When I finally saw the doctor, I gave him my sob story about the London Marathon at the end of April. He applied pressure along my shin; there wasn’t one specific spot where the pain was focused. Even so, he still thought it seemed like a potential stress fracture. He took an X-ray, where nothing showed up.
Good news? Well, not really; a stress fracture won’t show up on an X-ray until it starts to heal. You need to have an MRI to know for sure.
My coach and I are both a bit surprised that I have a stress fracture. Generally this injury occurs when you increase your mileage too quickly. I ran really high mileage for Phoenix, but it wasn’t very different than what I ran for Tokyo, Grandma’s, or Richmond. I didn’t increase too quickly and oddly obtained this injury at the end of my marathon training for Phoenix- during the taper!
But when I look back at the past twelve months, I think that maybe it was the four marathons in a 12-month time frame. It might have been caused by the cumulative mileage and stress on my bones over a longer period of time, even though my mileage was consistent.
Stress fractures/reactions are a very common running injury. A lot of my running friends have had them, but that does mean that they had a lot of advice to share on how to manage. In fact, I have heard many testimonies of runner friends maintaining their fitness via pool running and still running successful marathons. That gives me hope!
What does this mean for London?
I’m still planning to run the London Marathon. I will be pool running (aqua jogging), biking, swimming, and any other activities that don’t cause pain. I will wear the “boot” when I can to alleviate any extra weight/strain on the leg. And then I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I can maintain enough fitness to give me that London Marathon experience that I paid for!
If this weren’t the London marathon, I would probably not attempt to run it, but registering for this marathon through Marathon Tours wasn’t cheap. It’s not a marathon that Dustin and I will probably do again, so I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. I have talked to several friends with testimonies of training in the water (swimming, aqua jogging, etc.) and biking/elliptical and still having strong marathons. I’m hoping that will be me! Of course, if its too painful or I’m not feeling better by April 24th, I will have to cheer for Dustin from the sidelines, but I’m optimistic that I will be able to do it.
UPDATE on 3/8!
I started drafting this post before I had the results of my MRI, but I got the results today. Apparently, I have what is called a Level 1 stress fracture/reaction. The levels are 1, 2, 3, 4a, and 4b, with Level 1 being the “best” or the least serious. This is great news!
The doctor at TRIA suggested I continue to cross-train/pool run for the rest of the week and then start incorporating easy, short runs in the next week or two. So it won’t be ALL pool running for London, but it definitely will be more cross training this time around.
If you too are doing some pool running, here are some useful links for you:
Pool Running to Maintain Fitness During Injury:
Highlight: “In 1993, Eyestone et al. concluded that over a 6-week period, runners who were unable to run because of soft tissue injury could maintain VO2 max and run a 2-mile run performance time similar to running using either cycling or water running.
In 2001, Burns and Lauder completed a study that discovered Military personnel who completed four to eight weeks of pool running maintained VO2 max, anaerobic threshold, land running economy, leg strength, and 2-mile land run performance.”
Tips for Pool Running from this article:
- The belt should sit just below your rib cage, sitting snugly with the float across the small of your back. It should not sit on your hips.
- Legs: Most important is to make sure your legs complete a full rotation. If you want it to mimic running in a way that will make it easy for you to transition back, you need to make sure your legs go all the way around.
- Extend your lower leg out in front of you in a similar way to running on land (with your heel or mid foot reaching out in front, knee almost straight). It will feel as though you are exaggerating the motion at first.
- Draw your leg back, driving it against the resistance of the water. You should feel your hamstrings engaging as you do this.
- Raise your knee till your quad is in a horizontal position to complete a usual running motion before repeating the cycle again.
- Arms: Your arms are the driving force behind pool running. They should feel sore/tired when you leave the pool. The harder you want to work, the more you need to drive your arms, they will bring your legs with them.
- Arms need to be going back and forth, bent at the elbow with your hands going from your waist to just below the surface of the water, making sure they are going straight forward and back, NOT side to side.
- A lot of people end up “swimming” with their hands, make sure your fingers are either pointed straight, or in a lightly clenched fist. You do not want to cup the water with your hands, it will make it too easy, and you will not get a good workout in.
- Back: It is absolutely critical that you make sure you stay as upright as possible. If the float is out of the water, you are leaning forwards too far. By looking above the edge of the pool you will keep your eye line at the right level, which should help this.
- Feet: Your toes should not be tensed in a flexed position, but should be relatively relaxed, following the usual running motion.
More Information on Pool Running:
**If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them! I’m drafting a post of the gear that I have purchased to make pool running more tolerable, but I would love your advice!