Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Monday, September 8: Personal Training + Physical Therapy.
Another Monday, another PT day. Personal training went all right. My shoulder area still hurt, so my trainer had me do some tennis ball rolling and I discovered a couple spots that were SO sore. Ouch ouch ouch. I still managed to do all my exercises, though, mostly because with all this shoulder pain, nothing has ever particularly aggravated it (other than carrying my work bag on my right shoulder, which I stopped doing last Thursday).

Even though I didn’t originally want to, I did end up telling my PT about my shoulder when I went in for physical therapy on Monday. He checked it out (my first non-leg related injury screen! Haha) but didn’t have much to say other than it felt “ropey,” which seems to be a go-to description for my muscles. He gave me a couple stretches to try, which did basically nothing, but A for effort?

Tuesday, September 9: Dance.
My shoulder pain improved by leaps and bounds Tuesday, and I enjoyed my first ache-free day in a week. Or rather, “enjoyed.” Having no more shoulder pain gave me ample opportunity to obsessively worry about anything else that hurt and/or convince myself I’m dying. If I had a penny for every time anxiety beat rationality over the course of this marathon training cycle (or, rather, over the course of 2014 in general), I could afford to register for every Disney race in 2015.

Then I went to dance and ruined everything 😦 I really thought I’d be fine, given how great I felt all day Tuesday, but probably 15 minutes or so into hip hop my shoulder started to ache. I considered bailing on break entirely but decided to stick around to see what I could do. Not much, as it turns out. After giving it my best effort for 20 minutes or so (and being reminded by one of my friends to, “Stop if it hurts. It’s not worth it,”), I spent the rest of the class hanging out at the barre watching everyone else dance.

Wednesday, September 10: 9 miles in 1:33:58 for a 10:26 pace.
You know those runs where you’re all, “I do NOT want to do this. I do not want to do this even in the slightest.”? Yeah. This run was one of those. I slogged through nine miles and fought a mental battle against what I wanted to do (i.e.: go home) and what I needed to do (i.e.: keep running) for just about all nine of those miles. I was SUPER over it by like mile four, which made for a loooooooong last five miles. I didn’t do a good route-planning job, either, and passed I think four different intersections where I normally turn to go home while I still had several miles to go, which did nothing for the whole I-want-to-quit thing. I did, however, finally make it up to the brand spankin’ new track at Wilson and took a lap on it, which was AMAZING. The track is still so, so soft and so, so pretty. There were a ton of people out there, too, practicing soccer or doing track work or just walking laps, and I thought that was pretty cool.

I also realized on Wednesday just how out-of-control my blister situation has become.


See how it juts out a bit more on my left big toe than my right? Yeah. That’s a blister. Or a blister/callous, really, at this point. I guess it’s a good thing you can’t find Asics Gel-Cumlus 15s anywhere anymore, because even though I’ve liked running in those shoes, they do not play nicely with my feet.

Thursday, September 11: 5 miles in 49:22 for a 9:52 pace.
It was COLD! Oh so COLD! Oh my goodness, you guys, I wore a long sleeve shirt and shorts on this run and didn’t overheat at all. THE BEST. I also learned on this run that Google may not be the most reliable way to pre-measure a route. A coworker asked if a store not *too* far from my neighborhood still existed, so I said I’d investigate on my run. Though I knew where the store was, I had never run around that area before, so I tried to use Google Maps’s walking directions to plan my course for the day. I had a perfect five mile loop course per Google, but while running realized I definitely was not going to hit five miles if I followed the course exactly and had to add in a few blocks. Obviously not the end of the world by any means (and it’s nice to have something practical to think about while running!), but good to know for future reference in case I’m ever Garmin-less.

Friday, September 12: Physical Therapy.
Alternatively, “An injury screen I paid for.”

As I mentioned last Thursday, my GP diagnosed my shoulder pain as a brachial plexus injury, further feeding into my suspicion that my doctor is bonkers and I should never go to her again. I emailed my PT, per his request, after my doctor’s appointment to update him and expressed my doubts about the diagnosis, so he said he’d take a closer look at things on Friday. This ended up being the bulk of my appointment on Friday (which was fine, since only my knee had been bothering me lately, and it got me out of doing too many exercises 😛 ). He did all sorts of things to try to figure out what was going on and came up with pretty much nothing, other than, “Well, you don’t seem to be broken.” (Questionable, though I think he meant in the bone sense, not in the overall, “You’ve been seeing me for one thing or another for literally 14 weeks at this point” sense. Haha.) He told me to take the meds my GP prescribed (more on that in a bit) and if things didn’t get better to make an appointment with my sports doc. Anyone want to place bets now on the likelihood of me not breaking up with my PT post-marathon like I originally intended?

Saturday, September 13: 13.98 miles in 2:23:59 for a 10:18 pace.
Soo…it was cold Saturday morning.


Real cold. (Relatively speaking, I suppose. Not compared to last winter!)

As I’ve said approximately 234837 times before, I’m for sure a cold weather runner. That being said, I really don’t like 30s or 40s. If it’s any colder or warmer than that, it’s easy to dress in a way that’s comfortable both pre/post-run and during the run, whether that’s bundled up to high heaven or in shorts and short sleeves. When it’s in the 30s or 40s, though, I feel like it’s hard to find that line between what’s warm enough to keep you comfortable when you’re outside not running while cool enough to keep you comfortable while you are running. I ended up going with capris, a short sleeve shirt and arm sleeves, which was great while I was running, but definitely did not do much while I was not running. Brr.

Annnnnyway. We ran fast. Far faster than I wanted to run, really. I assume we managed to be so speedy thanks to the cold, but personally I wasn’t feeling it. My right leg, in particular, definitely was not feeling it by the end of things. Meh. After the run, I went out to brunch with my CARA buddies, which I think is one of my new favorite Saturday activities. I’ve really made much more of an effort to be connected to the group this year, and I think that’s made a HUGE difference in my experience with CARA. I genuinely look forward to the time I get to spend with them, even more so than last year, especially since they “get it,” you know? Some of my other friends have been…less than understanding about the whole time commitment aspect of the marathon, to say the least, this year, so it’s nice to have people in my life who get why I have to be in bed around 8:00 on Friday nights and don’t scoff at my more-than-once-a-week 4:45 a.m. alarms.

So. About this whole shoulder situation. My GP gave me a script for prednisone (a steroid) and baclofen (a muscle relaxer) to clear up my “brachial plexus injury.” Since I am 1000% convinced she misdiagnosed me, given my COMPLETE lack of ANY symptom associated with a brachial plexus injury, the fact that my PT was not able to recreate (or, really, create) any pain associated with a brachial plexus injury when specifically testing me for that, and the fact that I have not recently been in any motor vehicle accidents, football tackles, and it’s been almost 24 years since I was last born, I’m SUPER ambivalent about taking any of these drugs. I mean, to be honest, I’m ambivalent about taking drugs just in general. Ibuprofen and an acne antibiotic are as hard as I ever go. And even though my GP, my PT, my sports doctor, who I called on a Saturday (sorry Doc…) to see if prednisone during peak week was a bad idea, AND the pharmacist all said I’d be fine taking the medicine…I still haven’t taken any of it. I just…I don’t know, team. It doesn’t seem worth introducing a brand new drug into my system–especially a drug that makes you feel like Superman (but only makes you feel like Superman, and does not actually make you Superman), increases your heart rate, makes you retain water, AND suppresses your immune system–at this point in marathon training, ESPECIALLY to treat a condition I really, really don’t think I have. I filled my script, so maybe after the marathon if things continue to not be great (and/or I haven’t gotten a different/accurate diagnosis) I’ll give it a shot, but for now I think I’m going to hold off on the drugs.

18 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

  1. I find those runs that you slog through even though you want to turn around are the ones that are the best for training. In a race, you can’t quit (well, I guess you could), so learning to do the mental push onwards is important. Anyway, sorry about the blisters, have you gone up an additional size in shoes? My toes used to jam against the front of my shoes until I went up a size and a half.

    • I actually did go up a size in shoes! These are a full size larger than my street shoes and a half size larger than what I normally run in. I don’t know why my feet and shoes can’t get along. I don’t think it’s a sock thing, since no matter what socks I wear I always end up with blisters post-run. Occupational hazard, I guess.

  2. Cold weather runs are literally the most beautiful thing in the world. Yes I said literally. And no, 40s are a bit of an exaggeration. But there is nothing better than running in a long sleeve shirt and crops or shorts, maybe a vest or something. God I love it, especially in Chicago. Plus then coming home to a big hot cup of coffee is the best 🙂 I really don’t know what to say about that shoulder injury other than I really don’t like your doctor haha. Don’t break up with your PT otherwise it’ll just be you and that bonkers doc. That does notttt sound like a smart plan (even though i’m sure your wallet/insurance company would appreciate the break up)

  3. So I know a thing or two about brachial plexus injuries… I’m not a doc but email me if you want more details. If you truly have a BP injury (and I know them as traumatic injuries, not overuse), steroids and muscle relaxants are not the Rx. But they could be for some inflammation/overuse in shoulder (which I also have personal experience in). I’m happy to refer you to my athletic chiropractor who was awesome in my shoulder issue management.

  4. As a person who now has 1 prescription pill, 1 prescription nose spray, 1 prescription eye drop, plus 2 OTC pills and several OTC eye drops all for management of seasonal allergies I hear you on the unnecessary drugs. And thankfully after finally getting to see an allergy specialist she seems to be on the same page as me about reducing the number of medications I’m taking especially if I am not getting relief.

    My general opinion is if a condition is not going to get worse if you aren’t taking a medication then there is little harm in not taking the drug. As long as you can handle the pain. But I’m not a doctor, yada yada disclosure.

    • Hahaha “yada yada disclosure.” Goodness gracious! Your allergies must be unbearable! I think that’s pretty much how I feel about medicine, too. Obviously if something’s serious or will not get better without medicine, of course I’d be willing to take the medication. But I don’t like throwing lots of drugs at a problem and hoping it’ll go away.

  5. Injinji socks saved my life. Never would I have thought those crazy looking toe socks would be comfortable for running! I wont run over 6 miles without them now!

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