Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Goal: Get to the Marathon Start Line Healthy (not an easy task)

Less than 3 weeks to go for the Wisconsin Marathon in my hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin on May 1st.   I've been training for this marathon since the first week in January, averaging running over 5 days and 42 miles per week.  Usually 6 miles four days a week with a 15 to 20 mile run every Saturday.  I'm in great aerobic shape (the best of my life) and my training has gone well.  My training times have improved since my first marathon (NYC 11/1/2009), with my long runs usually coming in around 8:35 per mile (I have run 20 miles as fast as 8:23 per mile and around 8:35 per mile at least 6 times during this training vs. my fastest 20 mile training run for the NYC marathon was 8:57 per mile).

Over the last month, my right knee has been sore and I have a strained muscle behind my left knee (at the top of my left calf).  The left knee doesn't hurt when I run (occasionally it twinges, but it isn't painful).  My right knee is the bigger problem.  Usually, it doesn't start hurting until after 4 miles or so, but then it hurts after that, sometimes a lot.  This has been hampering me over the last month and will likely continue to do so until after the marathon.

My knee is getting better but not 100% yet. This morning I ran 5.2 miles at 8:00 per mile pace, so that was very encouraging (this morning I ran without my Garmin GPS watch for the first time which I am going to do more over the next few weeks to focus on how I feel versus my time.  This is a big step for me). My right knee hurt a little during miles 4 and 5, but it didn't slow me down like it has over the last few weeks.  I had a hard time running 8:55 per mile for a 6 mile run a few weeks ago because my knee hurt so badly.

My current goal is to get to the start line of the marathon as healthy as possible.  Injuries are something that every marathon runner experiences.  Here's my plan from now until the marathon (luckily Kenosha is a flat course).

1.  Reduce my mileage - I'm reducing my mileage over the next 2.5 weeks (my marathon is May 1).  5 mile daily runs instead of 6.
2.  No harlem hill until after the race.  While I find the aerobic benefits of this hill to be extremely beneficial, the negative impact on my knee is greater than the aerobic benefit gained.
3.  Ice baths  - over the last 2 weeks, I have taken an ice bath every single night (50-55 degrees for 15-20 minutes).  I plan on taking an ice bath every single day until the marathon.  It really helps me recover quicker.
4.  Roll it out everyday.  I think my right knee pain is not due to my IT band, but rolling it out definitely helps.
5.  Acupuncture once a week (have done it twice now), with electrical stimulation for my knees and calves. I will write a seperate blog post about acupuncture in the future.
6.  No speedwork  - over the last 2 weeks I haven't done any speedwork and will not do any speedwork until after the marathon.
7.  More sleep - I'm trying to sleep more to help heal, so I've been missing the 6am group for the last 3 weeks and am likely not to make it until after my marathon.
8.  Taper - more days off - my last long run is this weekend (15 miles).  I will take it very easy.  Last weekend, I also did a very easy 15 miles at a 9:07 per mile pace (by far the slowest I have run any training run).  I will take more days off over the next few weeks and am looking forward to tapering for the 2 weeks before the race.
9.  Stretch.  Increase my stretching after my runs - I rarely stretch.  Instead, I always walk to Central Park to warm up (0.60 miles) and always walk after my run.  Lately, I have been stretching after my runs and this seems to be helping also.
10.  Physical therapy - I have not gone to physical therapy for this marathon yet (I did 6 weeks for my previous marathon).  I may get some therapy over the last few weeks, but I am concerned that the PT will make me more sore.  Maybe this is foolish on my part. 
11.  Leave the watch behind - focus more on running based on how I feel versus knowing my pace during my run.  Today, I actually looked at my xm radio for the start time and finish time.  That was it.  Pretty cool for me.

What am I missing?  What else can I be doing to help my recovery?  Any and all advice is appreciated!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jim, I'm finally finding time to read your blog. Try taking glucosamine for your knee if you aren't already doing that. It takes a couple weeks to get some relief, but I think it helps. Another think that periodically helps me when my knee acts up is putting some tight tape around my ankle and wearing it 24/7. My chiropractor recommended this - something about it causes a relaxation effect that gives my knee relief, especially if it's sore from overuse. Claire