A year ago at this time my legs were starting to seriously feel the miles of marathon training. I would gingerly walk down stairs from what I thought was pain in my calves. I ran every run on the schedule, plus some and without following the recommended “easy” part of short runs group coaches suggested. Basically I ran every training run as if they were races.
Fast forward a year later. I endured the pain of four stress fractures to finish my first marathon. I spent three months not running, ran easy for two, and then began in earnest again in October with a fellow runner. I approached most of this year’s post-injury training with trepidation and fear.
“I do not want to re-injure myself,” I tell myself and fellow runners repeatedly. I started to take pacing a bit more seriously early on and to listen a little more intently to my body’s aches and pains.
The psychology involved after a serious running injury is interesting. I have struggled to find balance between pushing myself and knowing my limits. I ran routes where I failed on both ends of that spectrum, either by laying back on intensity too much or running too far and hard. I’m continually learning to adjust. I think I’m getting better.
On Saturday I ran my first of two 20 mile group runs before tapering for the May 6th Flying Pig Marathon. I started the 20 slow, ended quick, and felt comfortable on a five-mile Monday run where I probably pushed a little too fast at the end.
Reading philosophical articles on marathon training, and self acceptance helped. My training for the second go around is about where I am fitness wise now and that changes with each run. And it does not hurt when you hear an experienced runner who ran 90 plus marathons so far say he’s made every mistake and then emphasize taking it easy on long runs and making sure to listen to what you body is saying to you.
Besides a few blisters from the shoes I am breaking in for marathon day now, I am happy with where I am. The lack of intense pain or discomfort is actually amazing compared to what I went through last year. I continue to hope for health and fitness as the starting line approaches, and the ability to just enjoy the run and the dedication it takes to go 26.2 miles.