I’m writing this as I watch the replay of today’s running of the Boston Marathon. I’m a little envious of the conditions there today – about 60 degrees and, at the moment, no rain. This is a far cry from 2018’s blustery winds, 37 degrees, and pouring rain.
Today, though, I am not running. I don’t mean I am not running Boston, which I’m not. I mean I am not running period. Today is an unscheduled rest day.
For my Boston Marathon last year, I was injured and shouldn’t have been running, but there are no deferments for injuries at Boston. So, I did active release therapy twice a week at the chiropractor for the two months leading up to Boston and was able to complete the race on an unstable hamstring.
Today, I’m only fighting a cold, but my body is telling me to rest another day. I started feeling bad on Friday, and by Saturday, wondered if I should attempt my long run. Sometimes, though, a run will help clear out my head or an achy body, so I went for it. Unfortunately, that was only poking the hornets’ nest, and I went downhill quickly. I cut the run short and skipped my Sunday track workout, too.
You Gotta Know When to Fold ’em
Part of becoming a nutty marathon runner is figuring out when to push it and when to back off. Those of us who walk the line between dedication and OCD push it too far too often and wind up injured or run down.
Case in point: In my second or third year of running, I was battling foot pain. One of the trouble spots was the little metatarsal bones – the thin, long bones you can feel on the top of your foot. I was having trouble with numbers three and four. The big toe is number one and the pinky toe is number five.
I used ice for swelling, but I also started relying on anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to train through the pain. Once hip socket pain started up on the opposite side of my body from the foot pain, I finally visited my doctor.
He diagnosed bursitis in my hip socket, compensating for the foot issue, and suggested I take up cycling. He was serious, as this may not have been my first running-injury visit to him, but I didn’t listen. At least not fully (more on that in later posts).
He did refer me to a foot specialist, which I gladly visited. There, after x-rays, the specialist told me: “Good news. The breaks have healed well enough, and I don’t think you need surgery.”
Turns out, the pain I had been having for months in my foot was from two stress fractures of the metatarsals. Right then, I swore off over the counter pain meds. I decided if I needed more than ice, then I needed to back off.
To this day, over seven years later, I rarely take any pain meds. I will confess to violating my pledge in the two months leading up to Boston 2018 as I fought to run again. Immediately following the race, though, I was back on the wagon.
To summarize this week’s training tips: Learn to listen to your body. Rest when you should. And just say no to drugs, even over the counter ones.
Thanks for reading,
PS. Saturday’s long run was terrible. While I know it was 100% due to illness, it was still a confidence crusher. I started having silly thoughts like will I ever have a good long run again? After watching the marathon replay, I feel better, and I’m looking forward to returning to Boston one day with two healthy hamstrings. If you’re interested in reading my write up on Boston 2018, click here: Three Strikes But Not Out: A Boston Marathon Memoir