I’ve always struggled to find the right balance for things in my life, especially in training. Where do you plan your cross training? Do you have enough recovery time? Have you set aside time yet to plan and prepare meals to aid your recovery? Did you get enough time on your feet running this week? Did you vary your training from day to day?
High mileage at this point is not happening for me, but it’s not because I’m incapable of accomplishing it — aerobically I could run all the miles that would fit into my schedule each week. High mileage just isn’t good for my soft tissue at this point in my training. So many people recover from injuries quickly; they’re able to blast back into whatever they did pre-injury without missing a beat. I’m not one of those people. It’s hard to say if I ever will be, but I refuse to believe it makes me a weaker runner or athlete. Does it make training for a marathon a little more challenging? Yes, of course! But the marathon isn’t the end goal. There is no end goal. If I have to crawl to the finish of the Chicago Marathon, I will, but if I have to go back to physical therapy or rehabilitate something that became injured during training or the race — I didn’t do any of this right.
My “secret” to remaining injury free for the past year isn’t much of a secret at all! I actively strength train with body weight, Olympic lifting, plyometrics, and deceleration during my CrossFit Endurance class. To say it’s been the difference maker in my running is an understatement; comparing my form from two years ago to where it is today is almost laughable! For a while I was adding a second day on my own each week, but with a lack of the same equipment and coaching, I knew what I was doing was better than nothing, but probably not enough. As my hip started to ache more as my runs increased, I knew something had to change.
After seeing a video of myself on Tuesday that showed me a huge area of weakness that would directly affect my aching hip, I told Chris I needed to come in for another class. I knew deep down that I would either start my marathon with a nagging injury or possibly not even make it to the start if I continued my current pattern. In my eyes if I told Chris I’d be there, that made me accountable plus it gave him a heads up to potentially think about any modifications, if needed.
So there it was, 4:45am on Thursday morning and my alarm was going off. I felt stiff after a harder workout on Tuesday (heavy deadlifts, ring rows, pull-ups, glute targeted exercises and a couple 400m intervals) and then a 6.5 mile run on Wednesday, but I wasn’t going to back out. There were only two of us at the gym for a 5:30 class which is perfect for me — I get a little extra critique for all the weak links in the chain. I’m sure it isn’t just a coincidence that those weak links are the same ones that directly affect my running, either. We ended up altering some of the Olympic lifts and minimizing reps so I wasn’t too tired for Saturday’s long run but I was still able to get in a solid strength workout.
Adding this class definitely makes things tougher when planning out runs each week. An easy run in the afternoon wouldn’t be as much of a challenge, but trying to find a time for a tempo or track workout is certainly difficult. I know within the next 4-6 weeks, I’ll find a better rhythm but until then it’s going to be a little bit of trial and error (along with vacation!) The possibility of a Wednesday hard workout, if Tuesday’s class isn’t as intense is there. Also adding the second class biweekly is another option. Then there’s a chance I could just forego my dedication to Saturday long runs and go to class Friday, with my long run Sunday, which leaves open Thursday for a decent tempo/interval.
It’s entirely possible that I might not even figure this out during my Chicago Marathon training schedule. I have 11 weeks until the marathon. It’s enough time to prepare, but I might still be trying to figure out what works for me by the time it rolls around! Sometimes that number freaks me out a little, like I’m trying to figure everything out before October 11th, but I’m quickly reassured when I think about my ultimate goal. There isn’t a time goal I’m set on (total white lie – I have an idea of what I’m capable of and where I want to be) but I’m training to finish a marathon and keep running. This marathon is just one race in a lifetime of races. It’s a big race, don’t get me wrong, but there’s never going to be just one race that’s worth risking another year or two of injury rehabilitation.
One day I’ll be strong enough to get solid doubles in. One day I won’t even remember that my lowest mileage will be this year’s highest mileage. One day three hard effort workouts per week won’t make my soft tissue cringe. One day everything that I can’t figure out now with my training will fall into place. But Rome wasn’t built in a day…