When I started training 8 weeks ago, I freaked out and thought I didn’t have enough time to build up my mileage with only 12 weeks! What a misstep on my part! But it turns out, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I had a solid foundation – I had just run a 32 mile race in October; I took most of November off of running but still averaged 45-60 minutes of strength and cardio conditioning via Beachbody’s Core de force program.
So here we are, 4 weeks out! Training has been really, really good. Such a difference from last year, when I was significantly struggling on my long runs since I wasn’t fueling properly; and then hurt my foot 5 weeks out from the race. I changed my diet to be more healthy carbs and fat centered this training cycle and it’s worked out really well. Last year I was consuming way too much protein and randomly trying to carb cycle around longer runs. Don’t do it. It doesn’t work at the marathon level. I have been using orthopedics in my shoes (Dr. Scholl’s running inserts) and they have been working great to prevent my foot problems.
What foot problems, you ask? So for a few years now I’ve had to always wear supportive shoes – going barefoot out of the question because of a weird nerve pain in my feet when I walked. Whatevs, minor – and then while running a 15 miler with my brother 5 weeks before the marathon, my foot started hurting, was swollen, painful to run on. All the while I was still having this nerve pain. I went to the podiatrist and he didn’t think the two issues were related, gave me a topical cream for the foot inflammation (xrays came back fine) and told me I tied my shoes too tight most likely in regards to the nerve pain. Ummmm… no. Anyways, the topical cream didn’t seem to be doing much – I couldn’t run at all those last 5 weeks before the race in an effort for it to heal. And I max out at about an hour on the elliptical or stationary bike. It was awful. In desperation, a week before the race, I had a long session with Dr. Google about foot pain, and decided based on this info session to start wearing some toe spacers. Pretty much instantly my nerve pain disappeared, and within a day or two my other foot pain vanished. Basically my metatarsals are pinching or rubbing the nerves, but when you make sure they don’t get too close and space them out at the toes, they are fine. So, podiatrist, they were related, thank you very little. I went out and got over the counter inserts and with my homemade toe spacers (foam toe bandages)I was able to run quite comfortably with no foot pain for the race.
Moral of the story – wear supportive shoes and get orthopedic inserts. This training cycle, I threw on a pair of OLD running sneakers to walk to the bus stop to get my son, and then I wore them around the house for about an hour afterwards. I could feel my foot a little bit but ignored it – because I was WALKING. It swelled up later that night. I couldn’t believe it! Those shoes immediately went in the trash; and as fortune may have it I ended up getting a nasty head cold and didn’t run for a week or so and the foot healed up quickly. It’s quite interesting the different orthopedic inserts make though. I currently really like the Brooks Adrenaline shoe – I got a pair while training for the Ragnar and have been wearing them. They are getting to the end of their life cycle so I just got a new pair – and had foot pain when I put them on just walking. I got the Dr Scholls running inserts and swapped them in ($15 at Wal-mart) and perfect. I’ve seen $40-60 inserts at Dick’s, but since the $15 ones seem to be working for me, haven’t felt the need to splurge on the others.
Back to this training cycle – I ended up with 131 miles in January, which I’m pretty happy with, considering there was a week plus where I had the worst head cold and it was freezing out, and I just didn’t want to push it and end up with bronchitis or something more serious. I did manage my long run during that time (it warmed up on the weekend) which was only a 13 mile run, and I felt good about that. This past weekend was my longest – 20 miles. Tomorrow I will scale back to 15 and then go back up to 20 the next weekend – and that will be my peak week! Then it’s a 3 week taper down to the race weekend.
I’m bummed that my two friends who ran the half last year won’t be going this year, but excited that my family will be there to cheer me on. I’m feeling really excited and much more confident about running this race again as my second marathon!