Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

Sunday, August 6: 80 minutes XT
Same ol’, same ol’. Biked for 35 minutes, then did Motionally Stable. I did increase my dumbbell weight from 10 lbs to 12 lbs on Motionally Stable, though (please, try to not be intimidated by my incredible strength), so there’s that. This may have been my last trip to may have been my last trip to my gym, though as of writing this, I’m not 100% sure. My gym doesn’t have any contracts and you can cancel your membership at any time, though it helps to remember your billing date so you don’t get charged for a month you don’t want. My billing date is the 15th, so cancelling my membership was low on my Things I Need to Do Before I Move list. When I called the gym to cancel my membership on Monday, I discovered that I’ll need to physically go into the gym to cancel my membership (the woman I spoke to on the phone said she’d email me the paperwork, but four hours later, she still hasn’t sent me anything). I’m not going to be able to get into the gym before the 15th since it’s no longer located on my way to anywhere, which means I may get charged for an extra month. If that’s the case, I’ll definitely keep going back. But since I already set up another gym membership elsewhere, I’d like to not carry two memberships at once if I can avoid it.

Monday, August 7: 9.35 miles in 1:36:43 for a 10:20 pace + SPF
When I mapped this route out on MapMyRun Monday morning, it told me I’d run 8.99 miles, but I figure when you account for inconsistencies in my mapping vs. my running (not turning around exactly where I said I would, having the first part of my run inexplicably unmappable (well, not inexplicably entirely–part of the route I take isn’t available on Google Maps, which is why it isn’t available on MapMyRun. Why it isn’t in Google Maps, however, is inexplicable. I submitted a map correction request to Google Maps on Monday because of how much it annoys me that part of my route isn’t on the map haha), I probably ran at least nine miles.

So, a couple things about this run. After the Bethany vs. Cyclist debacle a couple of weeks ago, I decided it would be in my best interest–in everyone’s best interest, really–to avoid that section of the Lakefront Trail at least until after Labor Day, when I expect the tourist population to plummet. The distance between my office and my house is fixed, obviously, which means if I need to add on mileage to that distance, I usually end up tacking on an out-and-back somewhere along my route. Rather than doing my out-and-back through touristpalooza, I decided to do it elsewhere along the trail this time. I definitely avoided people, that’s for sure! In fact, it was so deserted that I often felt uncomfortable, so I don’t know how viable of an out-and-back that route is, either. It sure seems like it’s going to be all or nothing in terms of other people on the trail for these out-and-backs, so I’m going to need to make a decision as to whether I’d rather put up with the “all” or “nothing.”

The -and-back portion of this run had me heading directly into the wind, which was a lot stronger than I expected (though I don’t know why – I could feel the wind at my back on the out- portion, so you’d think I would’ve realized I’d have to run into that for the -and-back). I started feeling some twinges in my left kneecap around this time, and that continued to bother me for the remaining four or so miles I had in this run, though only under certain conditions (running downhill, or for the first 10-20 steps after stopping at a light). My usual post-run stretching routine starts with downward dog followed by me attempting to wrangle myself into the best version of pigeon pose I can convince my body to do, and when I put my left knee down on the ground while trying to get my right shin somewhere in the neighborhood of the front of my body, I had a lot of tenderness on my kneecap – kind of like I had bruised it, except I haven’t had any falls or blows to the knee recently that would’ve resulted in a bruise. I didn’t notice any swelling or redness, just tenderness, but diagnosed myself with prepatellar bursitis anyway, as one does. The internet prescribed the usual RICE approach, so I iced my knee that night and decided to give it a couple more days of regular icing/ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and go from there.

Tuesday, August 8: Dance
Tuesday was the second-to-last class of the session, and only three people (including me) showed up. My teacher took this opportunity to set the whole routine for graduation this coming Tuesday, and for the first time in a long time, we’re actually doing a routine routine, not just a bunch of choreography strung together with no transitions. I’m excited!

Wednesday, August 9: 3.85 miles in 40:25 for a 10:30 pace
I spent a fair amount of Tuesday hemming and hawing over whether or not I should run on Wednesday, and ultimately decided I’d see how I felt on Wednesday during the day. If my knee didn’t bother me at all without any assistance from icing or ibuprofen, I’d let myself run under the condition that I stop if it began to bother me.

I felt fine all day on Wednesday, so I headed out to run home after work, and within a few steps already felt discomfort. Since my knee hurt on Monday when I would start running after stopping at a light, but would get better as I kept going, I decided to give it a mile and reevaluate from there. Once I got going, I did feel better, so I kept running past that first mile. I had on and off pain, but nothing particularly strong or consistent, so I continued on. After about two miles or so, I got to the hilly portion of my route (hilly, of course, being relative), and the more I ran downhill, the more the ache stayed “on” rather than “off.” By the time I got to the bottom of the biggest downhill I had run so far that day, I knew it was time to stop.

Side note: I spent a fair portion of this run (and the days leading it up to it) wondering whether or not I would intuitively know when the pain in my knee reached a level where I should no longer run. Even though I wasn’t happy to hit that level, I was quite pleased that I was able to discern that I hit that level.

I took the CTA the rest of the way home, and my knee hurt the whole time. I iced it as soon as I got home, which didn’t really do much to help it, took some ibuprofen, and roughly two hours after I stopped running, had absolutely no pain to speak of, not even a twinge. That was nice from a comfort standpoint, but also extremely frustrating. How could I go from having it hurt to walk to having no pain whatsoever in two hours?

Thursday, August 10: Rest

Friday, August 11: Rest

Saturday, August 12: Rest

Wednesday was my test day to see what would happen with my knee, and since “what happened” turned out to be “run-ending discomfort,” I decided to stop working out until I had had a chance to go into the doctor and see what he had to say about things (my appointment is today during lunch, so hopefully I’ll have some answers after that).

I’m trying to be okay with everything, but…I’m not. I’m freaking out over how many miles I missed this week (17, including a 15 mile long run. I’ve never once in five years of marathon training needed to skip that long of a long run). The whole point of this marathon season–of this year in running–was to intelligently and carefully build up my mileage to enable me to run more miles during marathon season to, hopefully, finally have a decent marathon this year. I know 17 miles doesn’t make or break a marathon training program, but it feels like a lot–and missing that long run in particular is absolutely killing me. Again, I know one long run doesn’t make or break marathon training, but when you only have four super long runs to begin with (15, 16, 18, 20), missing one of them feels like a dealbreaker. PLUS, this week I’m supposed to run 16, which feels like a gigantic jump from the 11 I ran two weeks ago, especially with a big fat goose egg in between.

On top of being anxious that I’ve completely effed up my training, I’m really, really anxious about this knee situation in general. I’ve been through injuries plenty of times in my running career, but I have never once had an injury that only and always hurt while running and didn’t hurt during my normal existence. When I had runner’s knee in 2014, for example, my knee actually rarely hurt when I was running at all. I couldn’t sit at my desk at work for more than an hour at a time, but running was fine. Having an injury that only hurts while running makes me extremely nervous, because the logical response to that is just to not run anymore. While my livelihood obviously does not depend on my finishing the Chicago Marathon in less than two months, this is, clearly, something very important to me, and the thought of having it taken away from me is devastating. And I know that bodies heal, PT helps, I’m not being patient enough, I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, blah blah blah, but I just…don’t believe that right now. All my other PT-inducing injuries have had obvious, preventable causes: namely, that my hips were too weak to support what I was trying to do (or, in the case of last year, that maybe two marathons in three weeks wasn’t a bright idea). I just cannot FATHOM that hip weakness is what’s going on here. I have been nothing but dedicated to strengthening that area of my body for the past 10 weeks–and besides that, the pain I feel in my knee is nothing like the pain I felt when I had runner’s knee the last time, so I really don’t think that’s the culprit.

I’m also pissed. off. I am so unbelievably tired of having shitty marathons. I’m tired of barely being able to break five hours. I’m tired of not even coming CLOSE to running as fast as the majority of my running group. I’m tired of falling apart sometime between mile 14 and 18 year after year after year. I’m tired of putting my blood, sweat, and tears into 18 weeks of training to never get the results I want. I’m tired of having this be the ONLY distance where I can’t say I’ve ever had a race that I’m really, truly, genuinely happy with. ALL I wanted out of this marathon season was a good marathon, and I adjusted my training to do everything I felt was within my power to make that happen without hurting myself. And here I am, 17 miles behind where I should be, a big fat red line through the 15 miler on my calendar indicating that I missed that workout, so, so angry that after an ideal first half of marathon season, everything seems to be falling apart.

Maybe I’ll look back on this whole rant after my doctor’s appointment this afternoon and think I’m being ridiculous, but right now, everything feels ruined, and I hate it.

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6 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 10

  1. Aw I’m sorry this is happening to you 😦 Fingers crossed that you get some positive feedback at your doctor visit today!

    Everything is not “ruined” because you missed one long run. A lot of people miss long runs during their training. When I was training for Pittsburgh I missed not one but two back-to-back long runs, plus an entire week’s worth of running, when I was gone on vacation for 10 days. Life went on, and I did just fine in the rest of my training and PR’d in the marathon. You don’t have to have a perfect training cycle to run a good marathon. Setbacks happen to all of us. Take a deep breath, regroup, and focus on doing the best you can in the remaining weeks of training. Hoping for good news for your knee! You did the right thing by resting it.

    • Thanks for your encouragement πŸ™‚ The doctor said it was runner’s knee (been there, done that) and that I can keep running, just no speed work (oh darn. Haha), so that was very encouraging. And I got through my Monday run this week without issue, which was even more encouraging! Last week was just super, super frustrating. The biggest derailment I’ve had in training really since 2014 was a week-long cold in 2015 (which, obviously, was not that much of a derailment), which I think made missing runs last week particularly difficult. But you’re totally right – setbacks are part of training, and the important thing is to do what I can in the mean time!

  2. Interesting that this feels nothing like what your past runners knee felt like, because it sounds really similar to when I was diagnosed with runners knee – the pain happened when re-starting after stopping during a run (like at stoplights and drinking fountains), it didn’t really hurt when I wasn’t running, unless I was walking downstairs. That being said – I’m running again. So I hope that gives you hope.

    • +1 to you in the amateur sports doctor department, because that’s exactly what the professional sports doctor said it was! When I had runners knee in 2014, my pain wasn’t so much in my kneecap as it was on the lower outside of my kneecap (way below where the IT band ends, though, so it wasn’t that). The pain I felt in my knee last week was nothing like that, and it didn’t bother me after sitting at all like my 2014 incident. Maybe I didn’t actually have runners knee in 2014? Or maybe it manifests itself in different ways? I don’t know. What I do know is that you were right, and that I, like you, have now been tasked to strengthen my hips/glutes to resolve the problem. Maybe I should look into Pilates!

  3. I’m sorry to hear this training cycle isn’t going the way you wanted and that you’re feeling super frustrated. I’m going to give you a suggestion and feel free to tell me to go take a long walk off a short pier πŸ™‚ Honestly, I think you need to take a year (or two) off of marathon training and focus on increasing your speed at short distances and your strength overall. There’s NO WAY I could have gotten a 45 marathon PR if I hadn’t take the time off distance running that I did. I know it sounds counter-intutive and anecdotal evidence might not mean anything, but it really worked for me.

    • Haha, no offense taken, don’t worry! No need for you to take along long walks off short piers πŸ™‚ I often think about why I continue running marathons, especially when I’m quite obviously not in it for the competition (other than the competition with myself), and haven’t really made any major gains in it after the first two years. I think part of it is habit. I wasn’t training for Chicago during my first summer here, but my first summer here was also the summer I moved here (and I was training for my first half at that point). I guess marathoning feels like it’s just a normal part of my adult life, if that makes sense? Like, I cannot comprehend a summer not being in training, because I’ve never HAD a summer (post-college) where I wasn’t in training. And, of course, “training” doesn’t *have* to mean “for the Chicago Marathon,” but since it has meant that for five consecutive summers, it FEELS like it has to mean that. It’s become such a part of the rhythm of my life that to do anything else seems unthinkable. But, I suppose that’s how any habit feels until you break it.

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