I started out 8 years ago with marathon training as most beginners would, by using stock training plans found in books or on websites. Over time, I was able to take an hour off my marathon PR due to “getting the mileage in,” and adapting to running in general, then the improvements tapered off. In 2010-2011, I took another giant bite out of my marathon PR, which resulted in another hour off my best time. In order to do that, I had cleaned up my diet and lost 40 pounds. As the pounds slipped away, my running naturally became faster because I wasn’t carrying around all that extra weight.
Since 2011, and despite my best efforts for the last few years, my race times leveled off and have even been slightly worse. In both 2014 and 2015, I suffered from ongoing knee injuries and at one point thought my running days were over. It seemed that every time I got going with a new training plan and started to build mileage over 3 days or 16 miles per week, my knee would hurt. A lot. A few times it got so swollen that I couldn’t even walk without pain. Over and over this would happen and I would have to lay off running for another 2-6 weeks each time. It was frustrating to say the least! In 2014, I begrudgingly switched my registration at Mountains 2 Beach from the full to the half and prayed like hell that I would finish without causing further damage…really just because I had already paid for the trip and there were no refunds. Plus, my friends were going and I still wanted to run! I ran a decent half marathon, considering the circumstances, but I’m still disappointed that I couldn’t run the full. After another month of rest and incorporating strength training into my routine, I ran the Rock and Roll Las Vegas half in November to test the knee. YES! The injury had finally healed!
I couldn’t think of any better way to welcome in the new year, 2015, but with an identical knee injury to the OTHER side! WTF?? Clearly, there was something that needed to change if I was ever to run 26.2 again, let alone several more marathons to qualify for Boston. After several months of another excruciatingly long recovery cycle, running on and off (mostly off) and taking complete rest for 6 weeks, I was finally ready to try again…but this time I had to do it different.
Since the knee injuries started, I had been doing a lot of research on injury prevention. I found a great deal of great info at RunyourBQ and strengthrunning.com. The training philosophy on these sites include runner specific strength training to build a stronger foundation to handle the impacts of running and help prevent injuries. I’m no stranger to strength training, but I haven’t followed a consistent schedule of runner specific strength work and have always had a weak core.
In May, I was finally ready to start training again and started a 20 week, PR Race Plan with my main objective being to run the next Half Marathon, Saints and Sinners Half Marathon, without injuries. Since following the plan for 13 weeks, I can tell I’ve gotten stronger (I basically went from zero miles per week up to about 20 miles per week without injury). It’s been over a year since I was able to run that kind of mileage and I’m thrilled to be back!
No more sidelining for me. I’ll be in the Main Event!