[139] Moving forward

Swim: 0 m/112,725 m

Bike: 13.6/1,408.5 miles

Run: 21/670.2 miles

After my knee seized up and ended my long run last week, I was pretty apprehensive going into this weekend’s 16-miler. The knee was fine for my shorter runs this week, so it was a matter of finding out when it would act up again.

After my last post, several people said the injury sounded like an ITB issue. I wasn’t completely sold because I dealt with a relatively bad case of ITBS five years ago (on the other knee), and this felt a little different than what I remembered. For starters, the pain this go-round was in the lower-front of the knee, and not on the upper part, on the side of the femur where the band comes down from the hip. But I valued everyone’s advice and realized that my memory might be a little cloudy because my experience was so long ago.

For this weekend’s long run, I decided to use the ITB strap that I bought when I suffered from my previous case of ITBS – I purchased it the week before my first marathon, and that race was the only time I’ve ever worn it. I also set out with a plan to start at – and maintain – a slower pace and really focus on my stride as the miles wore on. Part of my concern was that the issue flared up on last week’s long run because my form started to falter as I grew more fatigued later in the run. I just wanted to go out this time and essentially find a relaxed pace that I could hold for the entire run.

(As a side note, I’m also more cognizant in this training cycle of the fact that my long runs should be geared toward building endurance. When training for my half-marathon earlier this year, I attacked long runs just the same as I would a mid-distance run. But now, as the distances grow much longer, I’m OK with scaling back on the pace – a little bit – to help log more “time on feet.”)

To cut to the chase – this weekend’s long run went off without a hitch. I was really sensitive to any odd feelings coming from my legs (and runners know there can be a lot of odd feelings during a long run), but there was nothing alarming and my knee stayed nice and loose the entire time. And, as a side benefit, the relaxed effort left me feeling great afterward – tired but not spent, and not sore at all. As I look ahead to my 20-mile runs, I think that I could easily add 4 more miles to a run like this (10 more miles on marathon day is another story, but that’s what training is for!).

The irony – and perhaps my failure – is that the overall pace of this weekend’s run was only 2 seconds per mile slower than last week’s (7:16 vs. 7:14). So I don’t know if pacing is the answer, but I was definitely paying much closer attention to my form and stride this time.  

I’m so happy the knee was quiet on this run, and I’ll give a lot of the credit to the ITB strap. But if it is, in fact, an ITB issue, I need to respond by doing more than wearing a strap on my long runs. I need to address the core issue (although I’m not clear about the root cause of this injury). I’m going to spend some time this week doing some research and coming up with a strength/stretching plan that will focus on my core and legs. I want to assemble a group of exercises that I can do several days a week at home that will focus on the weaker areas that contribute to ITB pain.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that marathon training is going to entail more than just running. I’m going to be asking a lot of my body in the coming months, and there has to be some give as well as take. I’m going to have to put in more effort than just running and cross-training. It really is an “all-in” proposition that requires attention to so many external factors, including nutrition, sleep, strength and flexibility. In the end, I’ll get out of it what I put in to it.

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6 Responses to [139] Moving forward

  1. ITBS is frustrating. Coming out of no where and then stopping you in your tracks. I’ve got it as well and the minute I think it’s in check, it flairs up again. I’d be interested in seeing what your research comes up with on causes and how to cure it.

    • traintotri says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Ryan! I’ll definitely have a post within the next several days that details my approach to dealing with it. It is frustrating that a lot of these running injuries can be kind of open-ended – it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when (or why) they start and when they’re healed. I think it’ll be a matter of strengthening certain areas and focusing on my running form.

  2. Dad says:

    FYI, the photo that you used for your banner is still, after 2 years, the most viewed photo on Sportsbacker’s web site; over 2000 views.

  3. David H. says:

    Of all those “other things” that you listed out at the end, I have found sleep to be the most important. I made sure to have several early nights during the week this summer to “bank” some time on the weekend, and I think I had my most successful training session with not feeling worn completely out after those long runs.

    • traintotri says:

      I wish I was better at following my own advice! Unfortunalely, with my late work hours and having to get up with my daughter in the morning, the time that I have available for sleep is limited. But it’s been this way for almost 4 years now and I’m used to it!

  4. Glad your knee didn’t give you any trouble on that run. For some quick at home strength training moves I use resistance bands, which I think helps when I can’t get to the gym.
    That’s pretty great to feel that confident about your upcoming 20 mile runs too.

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