Hi everyone, Steve here and Welcome to Episode 31. In today’s episode I have a few shout outs to some recent race accomplishments, I’ll share my Columbus marathon recap from over the weekend and I’ll share some insights on how that race went for me and how maybe there is some takeaways we can all learn from. It did not go well at all, which on one hand I feel pretty bad about, but on another hand I think we can learn from it.
I’ll then share and comment on a recent article from Runner’s World which has been one of the best articles I have read about running in several months and has some really great advice. There were two specific areas in the article in particular I want to chat about regarding mental training as well as injuries.
I also want to give you a heads up to listen to Episode 32 when it comes out, because in the next episode I will be covering what to do post race and how to work yourself back into a running routine, how to recovery effectively and what you do in the hours and days after a marathon has a big impact on how fast you can resume training. Since a lot of people are completing their races, or will be, next episode is one I think you will want to come back and listen to. In that episode, I will also have a related call from a listener about recovering for a marathon and then following it up with a 50k.
So for today, I have a lot of material jam packed into this episode so I hope you enjoy it. As always, you can check out all the show notes for today’s episode including a full transcript, and all previous episodes at marathontrainingplan.com.
So let’s get started.
Shout-outs and community accomplishments!
First I want to give a shout out to Eddie McCoy who last weekend Boston Qualified with a 3:05 time at the ING Hartford Marathon and then followed it up with another marathon yesterday with a 3:15 time at the 7 Bridges marathon in Chattonooga, Tennesee only a week later. So congrats, Eddie, another awesome job!
Another shout out goes to Aarin Brennan who completed her first marathon with a time around 4 hours 30 minutes in Baltimore and that is awesome as well! Good luck Aarin when you go after the Las Vegas Rock N Roll marathon soon.
If I missed your race be sure to post it on our Facebook page if you can, or send me an email or voice mail via our Send Voicemail tab on the website homepage at marathontrainingplan.com.
My Columbus Marathon Recap:
Well yesterday I ran the Columbus marathon and due to an ongoing problem with my Achilles, I had decided to not go after any sort of PR but rather run it with some of my running club members who were going after their first marathon. I figured if I ran slower than normal I could take it easier on my foot and not make it worse. So the last few months I have had moderate pain in my Achilles, more like a burning sensation that actually does pretty well during the run, but not so good after-words or when I am not running. I trained for this marathon very conservatively and in fact went to a more minimalist approach on the amount of miles to try and limit any more potential damage to my foot. For me I train on average 4-5 days per week during a normal training season, but in the last 4-8 weeks, I cut way back to 2-3 days on average, in the hopes that my Achilles could be managed to at least get through the race.
Well, it managed to get through the race fine. In fact, only on a few isolated cases, did I even notice that burning feeling and it was usually when I hit some uneven pavement. I was concentrating pretty hard through most of the race to find the smoothest pavement but in a few case that was difficult. Anyways, the Achilles held up fine although it is quite sore today.
Where I did have issues was with numbness in my feet, and something that appeared to be neurological in nature. I didn’t have the normal wall issues, as I stuck to my fueling plan and was going much slower than I usually do so I think I was able to keep up with my carbohydrate and electrolyte levels throughout the race.
So late last year, I had a situation where both of my calves would start experiencing pain and then going numb in my toes, and eventually working up my foot until my entire foot was completely numb and I could not run. This was happening every day about 1-2 miles into the run and then would only go away when I stopped running. I saw a doctor afraid I had compartment syndrome which is where your nerves in your foot get inflamed, pinched or squeezed between the bone and this is a pretty dangerous condition in that you can permanently damage your nerves. I had an electrical study done on my muscles and nerves in my legs and they ruled out compartment syndrome as well as stated that typically it only happens in one foot, not both.
Since I had numbness in both feet that indicated lower back because that is where the nerves from both legs come together and go into the spinal cord.
So I was diagnosed with a bulging disc that was getting inflamed and causing my feet to go numb. Anyways, I cut back running during that time and over a few month period it went away. It never came back until yesterday’s race and even looking back, it seemed to come back in a different way. Early in the race I experienced numbness again in both feet, but it went away rather quick and other than scaring me a bit wasn’t really an issue.
But around Mile 16-18, I started experiencing something more concerning. I started getting these “electrical” feelings (kind of like having your funny bone on your elbow hit), that would every now and then pulse through a calf, or hamstring, and almost make me fall. In fact on several cases, I would catch myself unable to support my weight on my leg due to this feeling. So basically, the runners I was with had to go on because I was pretty much forced to stop and walk and even that was a struggle.
Not a good day.
Anyways, I went on to finish but walked the last 6-7 miles with a few brief attempts to run that just would not happen. I almost pulled out of the race because frankly I was concerned that I seemed to have these neurological issues and was kind of scared of what may have been happening. What is weird is that I had no lower back pain whatsoever in either this case, or late last year so I guess this just affects people in different ways.
So, it just goes to show that anything can happen and sometimes things go wrong. Up to this point all my long runs went off without a hitch and other than some Achilles issues over the course of my training it was pretty normal training although I definitely felt the effects slightly of cutting my training days back a bit. Still I do not think it contributed to what happened to me.
In any case, I had my worst time ever in a marathon and I’ll take the next several months off and try again maybe next Fall. This may just be a sign that my body needs some serious recovery as it definitely shut down on me at the worst possible time. I plan on getting into my sports doctor soon and see if we can’t figure out what the issue was.
Anyways, I finished and will move on from this setback, hopefully sooner than later.
So on to our next topic…
Runner’s World Article: The Life of A Runner by Amby Burfoot,
So I found this article by reading the November 2012 issue of Runner’s World that came out a week or so ago and it was a great article on running in general, but two specific sections I want to to go out right now and read, or reread if you have a copy of Runner’s World handy. Its too big to go over in this podcast, but the two sections that are a must read is:
Train Your Brain (page 90). Here is a quick excerpt:
“I have long believed that runners focus too much on the physical, numerical side of our sport: leg length, cardiac dimensions, weight, foot-strike, arm carriage, and stride frequency. We similarly obsess over pace, finish times, heart rate, lactate threshold and running economy as if those determine who we are as runners.
They don’t. They may contribute to your half marathon PR and even your health but they don’t define you as a runner. There is muscle fiber and then there are the 50 shades of gray matter between your ears. The second is far more important than the first. If you want to succeed as a lifetime runner, you’ll gain more payback from your brain training than from any other workout.
In other words, you need to create self-reinforcing, motivational patterns that build a strong foundation under your fitness. Running is easy. Put one foot in front of the other. Staying motivated requires much more. It takes thinking and planning. It takes believing in yourself and the value of your workout time. It takes a powerful web of attitudes and practices that make your daily exercise as regular as you know, brushing your teeth.”
Wow, great points because science backs this up in numerous articles and studies. And we all know from personal experience this is sometimes the hardest to do. If you go to Episode 26: The biggest obstacle to marathon training may just be YOU you can listen to more on the topic if you have not heard that episode.
I discuss how a lot of this is mental and that it is the most under-trained part of any recreational athletes, yet studies show over and over again that positive attitude and proper mental outlook has significant boosts in personal performance and in most cases, is what actually gets you through a marathon training program and a marathon.
This weekend for me, I had a lot of physical problems. But I had bigger mental issues. I really struggled from a wide range of emotions. I was angry, scared or concerned that I had really messed up something, even suffered a lot of self doubt that I have rarely in my life experienced. I am the most self-stubborn person when it comes to quitting something, and that stubbornness has gotten me through tough times before. Let’s just say it barely did this time. I finished, but if I had seen any opportunity to get a ride back to the finish at the time I experienced these feelings, I am not sure I would not have taken it. I am glad now that I stuck with it, but wow you can see how many people have a hard time getting out the door on a cold morning or even to exercise at all. Its more comfortable to stay in than to suck it up sometimes and go run.
The next part of this article is what Amby mentions on Injuries. This is probably the best advice that I think any runner can get. Here is that excerpt:
“I didn’t want to include an injury section, but how could I not. Every day we read of studies stating that 20-80% of runners get injured per year. As a result, we are asked to change shoes or run barefoot, or try orthotics, or schedule regular massages, or freeze our buns off in ice baths, or stretch, or lift weights, or sit on a foam roller, or take a magic supplement, or befriend a local chiropractor. In dire situations, better try all of them.
Call me officially dubious. I am sure some of these gambits work some of the time for some runners, and even more certain that they don’t work most of the time. That is because injuries happen to runners the way germs happen to the receptionist in your doctor’s office.
There is only one method almost guaranteed to work: Stop running. This has been the hardest lesson I have had to absorb in 50 years, and the one I wish I had learned better many decades ago. When your feet, ankles, calf muscles, shins, knees, quads, hamstrings, or hips hurt, stop running. Now. Not the day after tomorrow, next week, or next month. Get real. Take time of immediately.”
He then goes on to give some examples, on how the body heals itself, and how you can return to running and some options that you have. But then finishes up with something that is quite well documented as well in the studies:
“The one thing that is absolutely, positively known about running injuries is that old injuries lead to future injuries. The key then is to avoid the injury the first time around. Today, you might have a tender spot on your shin. Keep running, and it could become a full-fledged injury that leads to chronic problems or to other counter-balance injuries. You could spend a lifetime regretting the days when you continued running; you’ll never regret the three to seven days rest.”
So again, I actually think this is the best advice I have heard on injury prevention and dealing with injuries. Now, I talk about every now and then some recommendations that can work and how injuries occur, but nothing in running is 100% conclusive. It is as different as each and everyone of us.
If you want to believe barefoot running will make you a better runner, then try it. Be real careful but try it. But don’t be upset if it doesn’t work for you. Same with shoes. Same with whatever else. Running advice is just that advice. Now as a running coach, I will tell you this. It is my job along with my athletes jobs to figure out what works for them. Its my job to dial in on what is working for each athlete. What I recommend to one athlete I may not for another. I may have one athlete run 6 days a week at 60-70 miles per week and another run 3-4 days per week and under 35. It depends.
The whole point of me doing a podcast is to cover topics that hopefully you find helpful, but also I try to keep the training advice that works for a majority of runners I coach within some boundaries because the audience of this show varies widely. I sometime fall into the what is good for me is good for you trap because it works for me. I do try to sometimes step back and look at it from a “consolidated” effort of all runners I have met and look for tendencies that work in the majority of cases.
After this past weekend 100% of my running club coached athletes since the club inception 2 1/2 years ago have completed their goal race. However, I am also not so naive that there will come a day when that 100% success race will fall. In fact, I was almost the one who blew it.
So I think as runners, as coaches we have to put things in constant perspective. If you want to try something do so, but remember its about starting with broad advice, and slowly drilling in to what works for you. Don’t be someone who see’s shiny objects when it comes to training and go jump on that shiny object bandwagon.
That is why I sometimes get real frustrated at the shoe manufacturers and the barefoot minimalist movement. Seriously, no shoe (or lack of shoes) works for everyone and to keep passing around information that your shoe has the latest technology and will fix peoples problems is just as flawed an argument that barefoot running is better for you. Its better for some, but not most. Same with the shoes. I think I mentioned it before, but even a lot of shoe store “fits” while are better than nothing are not 100% guaranteed because shoe stores analyze what happens from the knees down, yet out of balance hips and other gait related issues (foot turns outward or inward, etc) can have a huge impact on potential injuries that have nothing to do with shoes. That is where I think, the barefoot movement has it correct to some degree. However, when fitted properly with shoes that match your entire gait and style of running, there is no reason to believe that you won’t be just as good a runner as the minimalist movement says you can be with going barefoot or minimalist style shoes. Seriously, both sides have their points, and both sides have their flaws and at the end of the day in my opinion it comes down to what side you are on and what you will do to market your products or beliefs on others.
Sorry about the rant, but always remember that chasing shiny objects rarely works, but rather focus on taking an organized approach to your training, and dial in on what works for you. A great way to do this is by joining your local running club or seeking out a running coach to help guide you, but just make sure that the running club or coach has credentials and is open minded enough to ultimately get you where you need to be. Sometimes that takes time as analyzing, adjusting, measuring, and determining results takes time. This process repeats over and over again until your dialed in on what works for you. Most coaches are trained to do exactly that, but certainly with some preparation and research as well as a focused effort, you can do this yourself although it may be slower going in some cases.
So, sorry I got a little into my rant mode a bit and I apologize for that, but I am sure that this is a topic that many of you have an opinion on. Feel free to agree or disagree, and I would be real curious how you feel about the advice from the Amby Burfoot, Runner’s World article. If so, leave comments on the blog post for this podcast at marathontrainingplan.com, or via Facebook, or via the send voice-mail tab on the website. This would be an awesome thing to hear your feedback and share your ideas.
So until next time, I hope you enjoyed this episode and thank you for listening, stay motivated and I hope you have a great week!