Recently, I have read a few blogs by marathoners who did not meet their goals in their marathons. The posts even include stories of people dropping out before or during races they had prepared long and hard for. Inevitably, these marathoners/bloggers make lists of the things they did wrong and/or would do differently next marathon training season. I had the initial goal of a sub 3 hour NYC marathon, and now will be happy just to finish it. Knowing that I will not finish close to my original goal (unless there is a 60mph tailwind the entire 26.2 miles) I am happily able make my list 2 weeks BEFORE the event.
Here is the list of 10 things for me to remember this winter as I train for the Boston Marathon.
1) Shin injuries seem to happen at the end of the running season. If you have been training virtually non-stop, say for 12 months in a row, BEWARE of shin injuries (or any injury for that matter). Your body will eventually force you to rest whether you like it or not.
2) After buying new shoes, never run fast in them right away.
3) After buying new shoes, make sure they are not laced all the way to the top holes. Shins can tear if they are stiff and the shoelaces are laced to high and tight.
4) NEVER run 2 hard days in a row.
5) Take at least one day off a week. At my age, it is probably best to take two days off (or one day off and one do one day of cross training).
6) If you run one high mileage week, always follow it with a medium mileage week.
7) Only do one speed session a week (as opposed to two). Speed miles seems to cause more injuries than slow distance miles.
8) The #1 goal of training is to get to the starting line of the marathon as injury free as possible. If the above items are too aggressive, back off training for a few days, even a week. The small signals of pain in your legs will likely develop into something more problematic without rest. It is better to take a week off somewhere in the 16 week cycle, than to miss the race entirely due to injury.
9) If you do tear a muscle/joint/ligament. Give it at least 3 to 4 WEEKS (not days) to heal. Walk, bike or swim during this time. If you run you will prolong the recovery time.
10) "Chi Running" says that if you lean forward slightly when you run, you take pressure off of your shins. I will experiment with this and see if it is true.
My injury was caused by not heeding 1 through 9 above. So for my Boston Marathon training, I will keep this list handy to refer to during my training this winter!