My Legs Need An Offseason…

Heading into October, and my final cluster of races of the year, and I am NOT feeling good about it.

I have a 1 mile (untimed), 5k, 10k, half marathon, and 3 marathons next month (with 2 marathons in one weekend).

I am just not feeling it.

My running pace has slowed…a lot. My long slow runs used to be 9:30 min/mile, now it is 11 min/mile. The level of exertion feels the same…until I look down at my Garmin.

Part of it is my lower level of training this season (I will never match my Ironman training season). But part of it is that I am always in pain.

When going for a long run, things hurt. I analyse them long enough to figure out if this is something serious or not. Once I am certain it isn’t something vital, I block it out and move on. That is more or less what I have been doing…and not discussing any of it on my blog. But, everything is lingering. My running gait is completely screwed up, I have to go down the stairs one at a time, and someone at work asks my why I am limping EVERY DAMN DAY!

It’s not that there is one bad injury that needs rest and rehab. It is, instead, a whole bunch of little things. I have finally decided to listen to my body long enough to get a full accounting of what hurts. When I started to pay attention, I realized that it is a long list…

  1. Right 1st MTP joint (the knuckle on the big toe) pain and stiffness (worst at the start of a run).
  2. Left arch pain (generally will start up mid run). Sharp/tearing pain.
  3. Left knee instability. There is a sense that it will buckle and give out. It came close a couple of times. I don’t trust it.
  4. Right anterior knee pain-anterior (very mild runners knee). This is the least significant thing on this list. A dull ache that comes and goes.
  5. Left hip bursitis. Hard to run on and throws off my gait. Hard to sleep on that side.
  6. Sciatica-left. Doesn’t affect the run, but driving will cause some discomfort.
  7. Piriformis syndrome-bilateral. This is a small muscle in the buttocks. I don’t even notice it until I push on it. That will send me through the roof every time.
  8. Posterior Tibial Tendinosis. This is the worst of the bunch. I was diagnosed with this a few years ago. The tendon on the inside of my ankle is “shredding”. This was seen on MRI. Only fix is surgery…but the surgery results tend to be poor. Change in footwear has kept this at bay for the last few years, but it has started to bother me again. Knowing that the tendon could rupture, it is the only thing on this list that could convince me to bail on upcoming events…but it has remained at a dull ache for the past couple of months. Right side is worst then the left.

Causes for these are not known, but I have a few theories:

  1. Core weakness and instability. I was working with physical therapy in the preseason to correct this…but I have not maintained my exercises.
  2. Inflexability. I am the least flexible person my physical therapist has ever worked with.
  3. Shoes. I probably should spend some time looking for a new brand.
  4. Running too much. See below.

So, is running the cause? Am I running too much? Maybe. I am constantly training for a marathon, and I always have long runs on deck. My enjoyment of these (physically and mentally) has dwindled. The longer distances have never been my strength (I have finished in the top 5-10% in 1 mile, 5k, 10k and half marathon distances, but consistently finish in the back of the pack in the marathon). I have never been able to figure this out or have a breakthrough in the marathon.

At this point, I am trained and tapering. I intend to complete this race schedule unless something dramatically worsens (my longest training runs did not aggravate anything so I doubt that the races will either). These events won’t be pretty. I will be gimping in all of them. I predict three consecutive “personal worsts” in the marathon, but there will not be a DNS or DNF if I can help it. I may end up walking the entire last marathon in Des Moines (with its generous 7 hour time limit) but I will finish it. After that, I will have to do some soul searching about my future. I will also need to give my legs a chance to heal…




Filed under Random Musings

2 responses to “My Legs Need An Offseason…

  1. So sorry to hear that you have not been feeling it. You need to listen to your body though. Are you sure that you want to complete all of those upcoming races? I know how hard it is to make that decision, but you should be enjoying your runs, not dreading them. I took the last few weeks off (of my intense training, was still working out) and I feel so much more motivated now for the year ahead. Whatever you decide, good luck, I know you’ll make the right decision for you.


    • “There are two separate halfs to your fitness self. There is the training self, and the racing self. The training self does all the hard work. He gets up at 3 am. He runs in the dark, in the rain, in the heat, and in the snow. The training self ignores the snooze button, the fatigue, and the pain. The training self gives your racing self the gifts of fitness and endurence. The training self does all of the hard work. The racing self only has to show up a few times a year, and it only has one job.

      He has to honor your training self.

      He has to make all of your training self’s hard work and sacrifices worthwhile.

      No matter what you do on race day, never let your training self down.”

      -Coach Rick-Endurance Nation

      The races are the celebration at the end of the training cycle, and the carrot that gets me out the door when I want to stay in bed.

      I do not take DNS lightly. I would accept it for a true injury or a family emergency (fortunately, neither has happend). I have ONE DNS and that was for an untimed and insignificant 5k fun run which happened to have happened right after a large blizzard and the roads were almost impassable. I was not going to risk my life for that. I still ran 5k in my neighborhood and still feel bad that I skipped a race.

      No, a DNS is not acceptable. I made a commitment to myself. I intend to honor that commitment. I respect myself too much to just give up and walk away because the road is hard. That is the point of these events isn’t it? To challenge ourselves and to push our boundaries. That is how we grow and become stronger. Not by just walking away…


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