April 2, 2018

Why Marathon Training is Difficult Post-Injury

Be sure to enter my giveaway for Smile Brilliant easy at-home teeth whitening, ends 4/6/2018! 

As of today the Boston Marathon is officially 2 weeks away. It is really exciting and still feels unreal to me. Unlike previous marathons including the 2016 Chicago Marathon, I have not been posting weekly recaps about my training or how things are going besides some post-run photos on Instagram (you can follow my hashtag #BreatheDeeplyandRunBoston for all of my Boston updates!). This is a huge race and something I have been dreaming about since I ran my first marathon in 2013. So why no weekly recaps and blog updates on my training? Honestly because I have been scared I'll be injured again. I won't be truly relieved until I am at the start line. 


To recap after my best marathon and big personal record and Boston qualifying time at the Chicago Marathon 2016, I was diagnosed with a a metatarsal stress fracture. You can read all my posts about my injury and being an injured runner here. I did the whole boot and physical therapy thing. I have dealt with real or psychosomatic soreness occasionally in my right foot ever since. My last injury update in July talked about how I was starting to feel like myself again as a runner. 

Phantom Pains 

From my research and knowledge of biology/anatomy, my brain could just be hypersensitive to any normal soreness in my foot. There could still be some nerve or tissue irritating surrounding the site, although the bone callus has formed, and the bone is fully re-modeled. I have also read anecdotes that some people still get soreness and tingling years after a stress fracture. 

I had to defer the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon to 2017 because of my injury. I followed a low-mileage Hal Higdon marathon training plan because the goal was just to run the race for fun as well as prove to myself that I can run the marathon distance again without getting injured. For 2 months before that marathon, while I still had good health insurance at the end of graduate school, I went to True Sports Physical Therapy to continue to work on mobility and posterior chain strength. I remember even race week I had my physical therapist push around on my foot because I swore I was having some pain again. Then I had fun at the marathon, finished in 3:43, took my recovery seriously, and continued running. 

philadelphia-marathon-2017-cheer-station
That is one happy marathoner (Philadelphia Marathon 2017) 
For Boston I should have started training in December, but I was busy with graduating from graduate school and came down with a cold/virus the week of Christmas which knocked me out for about two weeks. It was a confidence boost to successfully complete the Philadelphia Marathon with a solid time, considering my training. Starting Boston Marathon training in January I knew that I wanted to just run the race as my victory lap so again I have been following a lower mileage marathon training plan. The stress of studying for my occupational therapy boards and the wrath of winter have not made it super easy so it was nice to not have too much pressure on myself from my running plan. 

I am scared of getting another stress fracture in my foot, mostly because of the idea of missing Boston, but also because of the idea of starting at square one with running again. I know my injury happened at the very end of 2016 and it's now 2018 so I should be over it. 

Anxiety

Despite not feeling fast, I've had a few solid races recently,even tying my 5K PR a few weeks ago. I know that have some anxiety and a streak of hypochondria, but my last injury came on suddenly and was unexpected. It was my first and only real running injury after running my 4th marathon. Maybe it was just one of those things, every runner (even Shalane!) at some point has an injury. Maybe it was my over-striding, training mileage, or lack of recovery and relaxation that training cycle, and I will not make those mistakes again. I told my boyfriend in January that if anything happens, I'm walking this freaking marathon. I have always felt I act more conservative than my fellow running friends, but especially post-injury I am all about #restdaybrags, getting enough sleep, and taking an extra day off running if anything feels weird. 

This isn't just any race-the Boston Marathon means a lot to me. It's a celebration of how running has changed my life since I ran my first 5K 7 years ago. I suppose talking about my training and sharing that with the world meant it would be a bigger blow to me if I ended up injured. Here I sit in taper town, 2 weeks until race day, just needing to stay healthy. 


boston-marathon finish line-2017
You will see me running or walking across this line this year. 

Bottom Line 

I'll be at the 2018 Boston Marathon.This has been a blog post mostly for myself, but I just want to let you know that if you are months or years about when being injured that at least for me it's normal to still have real or phantom feelings in your old fracture site. That it's normal to feel anxious about injuries interfering with your goals. That resting and taking care of yourself now is better for you in the long run. Better smart than sorry. 

If you have had an injury, do you still get worried? What anxieties do you have when training for a big event or race? 

This post was linked up with the Weekly Wrap

18 comments:

  1. I honestly think the mental part of healing from a running injury is often way, way more work and way, way more challenging than healing from the physical part. I've had injuries related to my hip flexor, my knee, and my foot, and it still makes me nervous to feel any sort of soreness in those areas, never mind pain! I've never actually reinjured any of those muscles/joints (though I do have to be ridiculously diligent about my hip strengthening PT exercises to keep my knee happy), but that doesn't keep my anxiety about it at bay when something feels off (even if it's not off and it's all in my head). Those anxieties, of course, are compounded that much more when I'm training for something I actually care about, so I definitely understand why you've felt concerned about things while training for a race as big in the running world as Boston! I hope you're able to find some peace of mind in the coming weeks and enjoy your race to the fullest :)

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    1. It's so true! I guess I expected the first few months of runnng post-injury to be anxious but assumed I wouldn't be so nervous over a year later. Thanks so much for sharing and for your encouragement :)

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  2. I can definitely relate! I got injured training for my first marathon and never got to run it. For the second, I was pretty cautious, ran well and then got injured a few weeks later for jumping back in too fast! Marathon training always makes me nervous... fingers crossed you feel 100% on race day- hope to see you there!

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    1. It's just so hard when you are increasing mileage and intensity for marathon training. Thanks so much lady, sending you good race vibes as well!

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  3. YES YES YES YES YES I am so excited to see you run this race. We've talked about it a million times but this really is the victory lap. And we WILL be celebrating while you're here!

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    1. Thanks so much, lady <3 All the love and celebrating with ya!

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  4. I also am a more conservative trainer. I have learned that I simply cannot do excessive mileage without asking for trouble, and I seem to do fairly decent with the more "moderate" mileage instead. Besides, I'm not exactly Olympic material LOL, I do not feel the need to put myself through all that work and risk a DNF just to bolster my ego ;-) Best of luck in Boston!!

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    1. Thanks! I agree that I'm not sure my body is made for high mileage, but sometimes the comparison game with social media, strava, etc. is so hard. Then I see friends and fellow runners getting injured and I'm reminded to just DO ME and that I know my body best!

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  5. Lauren, I"ve been following you for a long time. You've got this!!! But I totally get the anxiety. I'm one of those, pinch me is this really happening kind of people....

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    1. THANK YOU <3 I've been following your blog for a long time now too (even if I'm a silent reader!) so that means a lot. It's so hard sometimes to soak up those amazing moments and stay present!

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  6. What an incredible journey! So fun to follow along, and can't wait to see you CRUSH IT in Boston!

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  7. Thank you for sharing such an honest post. When I first started running again after my injury, I was SO scared, and I used to get those phantom pains too. It's not a bad thing to be cautious! I know you'll do great in Boston!

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    1. Thanks for the nice words. I've read mostly every post on injury and stress fractures on the web (LOLZ) and there isn't a lot of talk about what happens after the first few months of run recovery or these phantom pains and fears.

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  8. I seem to stay injured, or sick, these days. I'm going on four months of it, so it's been rough. I've never had a stress fracture, though I've heard the phantom pains are real especially if the weather changes/barometric pressure drops. My injuries have all been soft tissue (tendonitis).

    I think Bethany above said it right about the mental recovery. You might have to take 4, 6, 8 or 12 weeks off due to an injury, but it can take WAY longer to get back where you were mentally. Everyone talks about losing fitness, how fitness comes back, etc. And it does, but you lose that innocence that you once had after you've been injured a few times. I was injured last year, and by the time I finally got over it mentally (it took around 9 months, I got injured again.

    You can do everything right and still get injured. Trust me, I've tried (and so have other people, who are apparently sooo invested in my life) to find some rhyme or reason as to why I got hurt but I can't. Sometimes shit just happens.

    BUT... you are doing the right things. Focusing on you, prehab, recovery, and making Boston a victory lap rather than some aggressive goal post-injury. There's a lot of satisfaction in being able to toe the line at Boston and know you've done whatever YOU can to avoid injuries and have a successful race, no matter what happens.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading! In some ways bone injuries are physically easier because at least the healing is usually straightfoward, but I agree the mental recovery is still difficult. And yes, I think that sometimes shit just does happen. Thank you lady and good healing vibes to you.

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  9. Girl, I can SO relate to this. I've had a stress fracture in a left foot metatarsal (causing me to DNS Chicago 2015)and a real fracture in a right metatarsal(after running Disney 2017). I still feel pains in both feet. I went to the podiatrist before starting this training cycle -- and the bones are healthy. He said I would probably always feel some discomfort. Don't beat yourself up. Sometimes injuries just happen no matter how carefully we train. Good luck with your race! More importantly, enjoy it. Thanks for linking!

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    1. Thanks for the confirmation that the discomfort may not all be in my head, haha! Great link-up :)

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