Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

Sorry for the late post…for whatever reason, WordPress didn’t save the draft of this I finished on Saturday. Technical difficulties!

Sunday, September 6: Rest.
MUCH needed after so much activity on Saturday, and skipping my rest day for yoga on Friday.

Monday, September 7: 9 miles in 1:38:27 for a 10:56 pace.
I continued my tradition of a Labor Day nine miler. It feels SO nice to get that run out of the way early in the week, though conditions weren’t exactly picture perfect this year. It was still hot and humid (already 80 degrees when I headed out around 7:45…no thank you), so I was a bit on the slow side, though faster than last week’s nine miler. I was surprised how few people were out – I expected the Lakefront Trail to be more crowded, given the holiday. I think I got a cramp during this run, too. My shin felt really weird for the last two miles or so, and it seemed like a cramp? Maybe? I don’t know for sure. My shin has been touch and go for weeks.

Tuesday, September 8: dance.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never been sweatier in my life than I was in dance this week. Even with the air conditioning on, if you put 10 people in a small room and have them run an intense routine over and over and over again, it’s bound to turn into a sauna. Even though I really like our current hip hop combo, it bugs my shin, so that was frustrating.

Breakdance was completely different than ever before. I actually genuinely wondered if my teacher had somehow stumbled upon my blog, read last week’s recap, and responded accordingly. There was no freestyling, no strength training. Instead we spent the entire hour learning an intense combo, which was totally exhausting. It was like doing 200s over and over and over again for an hour.

After break my teacher got up on his lecturing horse again (this is the second week in a row he’s done this) and went on and on about how we’re not trying hard enough, not improving enough, not practicing enough, not working enough, blah blah blah. On the one hand, I get where he’s coming from. I’m sure, as a teacher, it’s frustrating to see your students accept mediocrity and stagnation. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to place the blame entirely on our shoulders.

Real talk: my Tuesday teacher is a horrible breakdance teacher. Period. He’s a great breakdancer, but just because you’re skilled at something doesn’t mean you’re necessarily able to teach others how to do it, and the utter lack of structure in my Tuesday class shows that quite clearly. ALL of the growth I’ve made as a breakdancer has been as a result of my Saturday classes, and that’s because my Saturday teacher, you know, teaches us how to breakdance. On Saturdays, my teacher will spend five to 10 minutes leading us through dynamic warmups and stretching, and then will say, “Today, we’re going to work on Y, which builds off X, the concept we worked on last week. If you’re not ready to move on from X, we’ll spend all of this class working on X to build your skills and confidence with that concept before moving on to Y.” Then we’ll spend 45 minutes working on concept Y, or concept X, if you’re not ready for concept Y. After introducing the concept to us, he lets us figure things out on our own, and then goes to every single student in the class, watches them, and provides pointers. We spend five minutes freestyling at the end with the specific instructions to incorporate whatever concept you worked on that day into your freestyle. Then we repeat the entire process the next week. In what should come as a surprise to no one, this is an extremely effective way to teach. What totally boggles my mind is that this is EXACTLY how my Tuesday teacher teaches our hip hop classes: we spend a little time warming up, learn choreography piece by piece, drill that choreography into our heads by repeating it dozens of times in the hour long class, then freestyle for a couple of minutes. And, unsurprisingly, this produces incredible results. I’ve seen people come into class with no dance background or skills and be able to memorize and perform a three or four-minute long routine in the space of two months. With breakdance, however, when my teacher can even be bothered to do anything other than play DJ, it’s like he’s just throwing sh*t at the wall and seeing what sticks–actually, not even seeing what sticks, because if he saw what stuck, that would imply that he was paying attention to what was working and what wasn’t, and adjusting his teaching accordingly, which he certainly is not. There is no structure, no continuity, barely any actual instruction, certainly no individualized attention.

Are we, as students, responsible for our personal progress? Absolutely. But is he, as our teacher, responsible for providing us with the information we need to make progress? Abso-freaking-lutely. Can you imagine if you took, say, a once a week Spanish class, and one week your teacher taught you the alphabet, and then the next week taught you names for food, and then taught you irregular subjunctive past perfect verb conjugation, and then got angry at you for not being able to write a five page essay or give a 10 minute speech in fluent Spanish because you weren’t “practicing enough on your own time” or “putting in enough effort” or “caring enough”? I feel like that’s exactly what happens in my Tuesday breakdance class. If you’re only taking Spanish once a week, yes, you’re going to need to put in time on your own to improve your language skills if you expect to even achieve basic conversational levels of fluency. But if your teacher jumps from unrelated concept to unrelated concept and throws in highly advanced concepts like irregular subjunctive past perfect verb conjugation (I studied Spanish for eight years and have a minor in it, and I still don’t think I could do that kind of conjugation off the top of my head, especially in speaking) and then gets angry because you can’t speak like a native after three years of once-a-week instruction, maybe, JUST MAYBE, it’s time to reevaluate your teaching methods.


Wednesday, Sept. 9: climbing.

Wednesday was the last day that I planned on climbing until after the marathon, per my training calendar. To be honest, I was pretty bummed out that I wouldn’t be able to go anymore. I’ve really enjoyed climbing and getting into the groove of things over these past four weeks, and I was disappointed I’d have to take over a month off and probably lose a lot of the gains I’ve made from going regularly.

As I expected, most of the upstairs routes had been reset, which made me so excited. New routes to figure out! In the place of the 5.7 I used for an ego boost were a 5.8 and 5.9, and the 5.9 I conquered last week now had a 5.10a and 5.11 in its place. The 5.8 I’ve mentioned over the past several weeks was still there. I got started with the new 5.8 and topped out on it fairly easily. I really liked this route. It was a lot of fun, and perfectly challenging. Since I topped out on that so quickly, I figured I’d try the 5.9, and to my IMMENSE surprise I topped out on my first try! (Route Setter MA, whoever you are: I love you. You must be a 5’5″ female, and I appreciate your work that I can actually reasonably conquer.) I was SO excited, and I couldn’t believe it! I returned to my old 5.8, and then figured since I topped out on the 5.9 so easily, I may as well attempt the 5.10a. I made it about two-thirds of the way up the 5.10a before I lost it, and then decided to go check out the scene downstairs.

As I started walking to the stairs, I noticed my arch on my left foot hurt. It felt like my shoes were bothering me, but I brushed it off and continued climbing. For whatever reason, one of the 5.8s downstairs that used to be an autobelay is now top rope only, so I tried the other 5.8 and, for the first time, really truly topped out, making it to the very last hold. Hooray! I then went back upstairs, did the 5.9 again (two failed attempts and one successful attempt), and wrapped up my time on the new 5.8.

When I left the gym, my arch still hurt, thus proving it wasn’t the shoes. It didn’t really hurt to walk, necessarily, but I did notice a bit of an achey pain when I would intentionally overpronate, shifting all of my weight to the inside of my foot. I iced it when I got home and rolled it out a bit with a tennis ball and figured I’d wait until morning to see how it felt.

Thursday, September 10: Yoga.
It didn’t get better.

Since my arch still ached when I woke up, I emailed my boyfriend physical therapist to ask him for his thoughts/an injury screen. (I was quite delighted when he responded saying he had been thinking about emailing me to check to see how I was doing, but didn’t want to jinx me. #bestiestatus hahahaha.) I already figured the six-mile tempo run I had planned for the day was out of the question, and he agreed with me. I thought about taking a full rest day, but didn’t like the idea of three full rest days in one week, so instead I did this yoga practice.

So. Many. Chaturangas.

Friday, September 11: Rest.
Even though I had set up an injury screen with my PT for Friday, I decided to see if I could get into my sports podiatrist, and much to my surprise, they were able to get me in early Friday morning, so I went to see her instead of seeing my PT ( 😦 ). I described everything exactly as it happened, including, I think, my pain. She felt my foot for a few seconds and diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis o.O

Now, I’m no DPM. I have no medical background at all, in fact, other than a Google MD, which we all know doesn’t actually count for anything. But when I had plantar fasciitis last year (in this same foot), it felt NOTHING like what I have right now. That pain was stabby and located right at the edge of my heel, where plantar fasciitis pain is supposed to be located. This pain is all in my arch, and feels almost identical to the pain I’ve felt every time I’ve sprained/strained various parts of my body (wrist, ankle, hip flexor). Granted, there’s no swelling, and I didn’t feel it happen in the moment–though when I strained my hip flexor, it didn’t swell, and I didn’t feel that happen in the moment, either. Realistically, I suppose it doesn’t make that big of a difference whether I have a strain or plantar fasciitis, because from what I can tell, the treatment for both is more or less the same, and the additional things I’d do to treat plantar fasciitis certainly aren’t going to hurt me, foot sprain or not. But it was kind of frustrating to get what felt like a snap diagnosis that didn’t seem to fit my symptoms.

The podiatrist sent me home with a bunch of presents (…that I paid for 😛 ) to help me out with my “plantar fasciitis,” or whatever it is I’m experiencing.


For those of you keeping score at home, I am now the proud owner of:

  • A foam roller
  • Another foam roller
  • A Moji
  • A handheld Moji
  • A tennis ball (for foot rolling)
  • A golf ball (for foot rolling)
  • Two green Therabands
  • One red Theraband
  • One yellow Theraband
  • One blue Theraband
  • A night splint
  • A ProStretch

Plus the frozen water bottle I keep in my freezer at all times for foot icing purposes, and my bags of frozen vegetables designated for leg icing. At this point, all I really need are exercise balls and a Bosu ball, and I’ll pretty much have an in-home physical therapy clinic. #runnerproblems

Saturday, September 12: 14(ish) miles in 2:26:22 for a 10:36 pace.
I wore my night splint to bed Friday night and woke up around 11:30 or 11:45 in a WORLD of pain. My foot hurt worse than it had hurt at any other point, including when I initially injured it on Wednesday. It hurt just to lay in bed, never mind walk, and there was no way I could’ve run 14 miles feeling that way. I hemmed and hawed about what to do with the splint, texted one of my CARA friends who’s a PT to ask for her opinion (…at midnight. Haha.), and ultimately decided the splint was causing more problems than it was solving, so I took it off. When my alarm went off at 4:45 to get up to run, my foot felt 100 times better, which just furthers my suspicions that I don’t actually have plantar fasciitis.

When my alarm went off at 4:45, I could also hear it raining. I checked the radar and could not believe it.


Do you see that little line of rain affecting just the parts of the area closest to Lake Michigan? It was moving north to south, making this the THIRD consecutive week where we’ve had rain on our long run. For the record, prior to this I had never once experienced rain on a marathon training long run, and only two other times in my entire four years of running had I ever done any sort of long run in the rain–not because I wimped out, but because it just didn’t happen. At this point, I’m convinced it’s going to rain on marathon day. At least I know how to deal with it!

It was cold and windy in addition to rainy, so this was hardly enjoyable from a weather standpoint, but from a running standpoint I thought things went quite well. My arch ached the entire time, but I’d label the ache as a discomfort rather than a pain, and it never got worse (or better) for all 14 miles. The rain stopped after nine miles or so, and with 1.5 left, the sun actually came out, which made me feel way less silly for bringing my sunglasses along and wearing them on top of my hat just in case! Oh, and as for the 14(ish) miles – my watch said 13.84, but it also didn’t pick up a GPS signal until after I had started running. If I had to guess, I’d imagine we actually ran more than 14 miles, since we usually go slightly over on our long runs, but I don’t know for sure.

Obviously this foot issue is a bit of an inconvenience, given the timing. Though it hurt all day on Thursday and Friday, by Sunday night it felt totally fine. It ached a little Sunday morning and a little this morning as well, but not like it did earlier, and, with the exception of Friday night after wearing the splint, it hasn’t hurt to walk at all, which I figure must be a good sign. I’m a little nervous about dealing with this during peak week, mostly because if it is a strain/sprain (which I really think it is, unless I have the weirdest case of plantar fasciitis ever), I don’t want to do more damage by running a lot of miles. On the other hand, I was on my feet for a lot of Saturday and Sunday wearing flats, which are hardly the picture of supportive footwear, and felt just fine, so maybe running won’t make matters worse. All things considered, I’m feeling pretty zen about this whole thing. It doesn’t feel like that major of an injury, especially since I managed to run just fine on Saturday, so right now I still think I should be good to go come marathon day *knocks on all wood available*. Just no more rock climbing between now and then!

8 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 14

  1. I am glad the foot issue seems to be healing up. I pray that it behaves itself during peak week! Then you’ll be able to give it some good healing time during taper. (Thank goodness for taper!)

    I’m with you on having the home PT office. I’ve gone through several sets of fitness bands, two types of foam rollers, golf balls, one of those giant body balls, and frozen vegetables in the freezer for icing. Isn’t it great!?!?!?

  2. Yeah, arch pain doesn’t sound like PF to me, either. Have you seen the PT yet?

    When I was having all my hip issues several years ago I had one PT give me a lift to wear inside my shoe because she thought my left leg was shorter than my right. Turns out that the reason it looked shorter was because my muscles were so tight around my hip that they were pulling my leg up and the lift made it WAY worse. I ditched it and immediately felt better. I know that medical professionals make mistakes but, dang, I hate being the guinea pig!

    Anyway, maybe it was like a weird long-lasting cramp? Here’s hoping it clears up.

    • I updated my PT after my doctor appointment, and he said I didn’t need to come in (nooo! But boyfriend, I miss you! Hahaha 😛 ). So no, I haven’t seen him, though I did email him Sunday and was like, “I have a hip flexor strain in my foot.” (More or less. I didn’t use those exact words.) Still just told me to keep him posted. Right now, things are feeling a lot better. The whole sole of my foot was sore yesterday and this morning, but I think that was more from overly-enthusiastic tennis ball rolling than anything. Taking it easy on the rolling front today and/or tomorrow and seeing how things feel. This whole thing is such a nuisance!

  3. Sorry to hear about the pain — aches and pains are the worst part about training because you don’t know what’s serious and what’s not. I’m all about rolling my feet on golf balls too — it seems to really help.

    That breakdancing situation is bogus. I’d be maaaaad. Will I see you on Sunday at the 20 miler?

    • Tell me about it. As I sit here with a bag of frozen peas on my Achilles, panicking. Haha. I was doing so well with maintaining my sanity this marathon season, but this last week has been a bear. I’ve gone 0 to 100 in the injury paranoia department, that’s for sure. Though to be realistic, every “season ending injury” I’ve diagnosed myself with over the past seven days has cleared up in like 48 hours, so I’m probably not actually dying. Hahaha. And yes! Barring something totally horrible, I’ll be there Sunday. Signed up to do 10:30s, but I plan to bandit an 11:00 group to start off, hoping that will help me negative split the run and/or at least not bonk.

  4. Ok I’m FINALLY commenting, I’ve wanted to all week but zomg school. Arch pain was my nemesis last year when I was training for the marathon. It popped up near the end of my training cycle one day during a 15 miler and seriously felt like I had broken something. I also went to a podiatrist (who didn’t diagnose it at all) and ended up getting an MRI on the area (that didn’t show anything). It sounds like you’re experiencing the same/similar issue now 😦 I wish I could steer you towards a diagnosis but I can give some advice as to what helped me – stretching the sole of the foot (looks like you have all the right tools for that!) and using a foot roller (LOVE this one: It sounds like you might be in the clear though, *fingers crossed* !!!

    • I’m hoping so! My foot, at least, feels MUCH better. I haven’t had any pain at all since Tuesday. Beginning on Wednesday, though, I started to have Achilles soreness?! A few hours after my 10 miler on Wednesday, that is. So now I’ve been icing that like a maniac/panicking like my life depends on it. My Achilles actually bugged me on and off for about a month from mid-July to mid-August, and then literally the week after that stopped being an issue, my shin (same leg) started to hurt on and off, and then as soon as that stopped being an issue (last Wednesday), my foot started to hurt (same leg again), and then as soon as THAT stopped being an issue, my Achilles flared up again. Two issues was maybe a coincidence, three things was unfortunate, but now having my Achilles flare up again — I’m starting to think this is all related. I mean, ankle bone connected to the shin bone, blah blah blah, I know all that, but I’m wondering if this is all the same “injury”/soreness/whatever manifesting itself in different ways, since everything has been within the same region. Or if I’m just losing my mind 😛 I’m ready for this training stuff to be over so I can stop worrying about my aches and pains and go back to worrying about my body in my normal ways! Hahaha (But really…)

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