Hi Running With Sass readers! I’m Amanda, and you can usually find me over at Running On Waffles. Today I’m really excited to share with all of you the lessons I’ve learned while training for my first marathon.
In the spring of 2009, my love affair with running began when I stepped on the treadmill to lose weight. After my first semester in graduate school, I was close to 200 lbs. As an athlete almost my entire life, I knew I needed to get my weight under control. Never did I think running would become anything important in my life.
It all started after I ran my first 5K. I got addicted to the energy of everyone at the race, and one of my good friends easily convinced me to enter my first ten miler. Somewhere in the process of training for this race, running became more than a way to lose weight. It’s now part of how I define myself and how I get through the week. I love training for races, and I love pushing myself to run further, faster, longer.
This past spring I decided to run my first marathon on October 30: Marine Corps Marathon. I would fall asleep at night thinking about my training plan and what it would feel like to cross the finish line.
Then on my 25th birthday I developed a lower back injury. I tried running through it, thinking it’d eventually go away. But 5 miles in to my long run that weekend, my back started spasming and I could no longer stand up straight. My back looked like a question mark, and running was out of the question for several months.
That was Memorial Day Weekend, and today I’m still dealing with my injury. It is finally getting better after hours doing physical therapy, stretching with my foam roller, and icing. And I’m still planning on running my first marathon on October 30.
Am I going to run the sub-4:30 marathon I hoped for? No. Have I gotten to do the kind of training I was excited to do? No. But because of the following lessons I’ve learned from this injury, in the next month and a half, I will still get to complete half marathon #4 and marathon #1.
What I’ve Learned from Marathon Training While Injured
1. Listen to your body and respect your limitations. There’s a difference between good pain and bad pain, and as tempting as it is to ‘run through’ the bad pain, I still wonder if I would have recovered faster if I hadn’t tried to do that.
2. Sports medicine specialists and physical therapists are awesome. Every GP I saw just gave me muscle relaxers and sent me on my way. I wasted time and money, and should have gone straight to a sports med practice. That’s when I started to get better.
3. Advocate for yourself. Many injuries require time away from running, which I was willing to do as long as it was necessary. But I was never afraid to remind my doctor and therapists that I still had my eye on the marathon. Although they thought I was crazy, my doctor has asked me to send him a photo from the finish line.
4. Utilize intervals and cross training. I’ve done all of my running with run/walk intervals, which has helped me pick up my mileage faster without risking additional injury. I bike almost every day for cross training to help me maintain my endurance and stamina.
5. Rest days are important. I can’t stress this enough. Warm up, cool down, stretch, and rest. Your body needs an opportunity to recover.
6. Sustaining an injury doesn’t mean you have to give up on your goals. It just means you have to adjust your expectations. My goal for the marathon? To finish. A 14 minute pace is required, and with the amount of walking I’ll likely end up doing, I’m just hoping to avoid the sweeper van. I’ll be ecstatic to get to the finish line.
7. Never take your ability to run for granted. When running gets tough, I just think about how fortunate I am to be able to run, and it gets a little bit easier.
This fall, getting to the start line of both of my races will be my biggest challenge, not either of the races themselves. Will I make it? I don’t know, but I’m doing everything I can to get there. Join me over at Running On Waffles to see how my Oct. 1 half marathon and Oct. 30 marathon go!
Keep on running!
QOTD: How do you deal with training when injured?
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