Grand Rapids 2013 Training: 4 Weeks Out


This week was the week that….wasn’t.


On Monday, I wrote about how I’m feeling pretty high maintenance lately. After some weird aches and pains started to creep up on me last Friday, I had a feeling that something was ‘off’. The chiro told me that my left hip is almost an inch higher than the right (due to muscle tightness, not anatomical) on Monday morning. She’s confident that a few adjustments and light massage therapy will help loosen it up and align them again. At the time, I still thought I’d be able to run my two big workouts for the week as well as Saturday morning’s 20-21 mile long run. Sure, I was sore and there were certain muscles that were giving me more trouble than they normally do but that’s just a given during marathon training. You control what you can and try to fix little problems as you go.

I ran 5.5 creaky miles on Monday night at Fleet Feet’s Pint Night. I wasn’t comfortable after a chiro adjustment and mini-massage on Monday morning. I was sore, but I figured the shakeout would do me some good, regardless of how it actually felt at the time. Tuesday rolled around and I knew a workout just wasn’t going to happen. I had an 11 mile steady state run on the schedule and after consulting with Coach, we decided to bag it and run easy. If the quad/IT band/adductor loosened up in the first few miles, I was free to run 6-8 very easy miles. If it didn’t, however, the plan was to stop and walk home. I ended up running less than 3 miles before walking 1.5 miles home. A whole new meaning to the walk of shame (much less on a busy street during rush hour).

I’ve never done that before. And while I’ve had little aches and pains that have prompted me to rest when I don’t want to in the past (minor peroneal tendonitis and left glute strengthening with some PT), I’ve never had to stop and walk home. Wednesday is always a rest day for me and on Tuesday evening, I was still optimistic that I would be able to do some kind of workout on Thursday morning (even if it wasn’t the 12 x 400 that was already on the schedule).

Thursday, same thing. I woke up and just knew it wasn’t going to happen. I went out for an easy run and, if it loosened up, I was free to run 6-8 easy miles. (At this point, I’m calculating how many total miles I’d be missing out on for the week. Once you go down that road, you can’t really go back.) I ran a 3.5 mile loop around the neighborhood and, while I could have gone for a 2nd one to make it a total of 7 miles, there was no point. The 3.5 didn’t feel comfortable and I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where something actually snaps or breaks or gives out, miles from home. For now, the discomfort is enough to make me slow down and be cautious before it *really* becomes a big problem.

Then, Friday morning. I decided on 45 minutes on the elliptical just to get the cardio I’d been missing all week. No pain or discomfort in the left leg at all. It felt good just to MOVE. I hopped off the elliptical and decided I’d try 2 easy miles on the treadmill just to see what the leg would do. Not even one mile in, I stopped.

Any kind of movement with impact makes the left quad lock up and the inner adductor starts screaming. I don’t really feel any soreness or tenderness when I walk. But the impact of landing on my left foot makes me feel like I’m running on a flat tire. So while the elliptical workout felt great, I walked home from the gym feeling even more frustrated because my leg won’t let me run one measly mile.

Needless to say, Saturday’s 20-miler didn’t happen and I did absolutely ZERO cross-training or running this weekend. And honestly it feels like I’m going through taper pains because both of my legs just hurt. They just want to GO. I’m restless and I seriously didn’t even know what to do with myself when I knew practically the entire city of Chicago was out on the lakefront running 20-milers before the Chicago Marathon or another fall race.

Between missing out on 3 key workouts and almost 40 miles for the week (only ran a total of 11), I may have to reconsider Grand Rapids.

I’m not giving up on the leg just yet but I’d like to go into the race feeling confident that my body can handle it, rather than push through these next 2 weeks of training before taper and wonder whether or not it’s going to be a good effort. There’s no point in suffering through 26.2 miles.

If it’s in the cards and the leg decides to love running again, then Grand Rapids will happen. (And if Grand Rapids doesn’t happen, I’ll still be there to cheer for Hillary, Manny, Jeff, and Chris. They deserve ALL THE BEER at the finish line and it would be fun to personally hand it to them.)

If all it needs is time before I get another couple of weeks’ work in, then I’ll run an alternate race this fall (not sure of which one yet).

And if neither of those options is going to happen, then I plan to have fun resting, cross-training, and getting strong for the winter cycle before Boston 2014.

I was feeling so frustrated last week about the fact that I can’t even run easy right now. Now I’m (kind of) comfortable with the fact that I just have to be patient and what will be, will be.

– J

34 thoughts on “Grand Rapids 2013 Training: 4 Weeks Out

  1. Caitlin says:

    You still inspire me, regardless of a silly quad. I wish I could be as consistent as you always are! Maybe you had some extra time this week for puppy snuggles?

  2. djamesbutton says:

    I can totally relate to this post. My fall race is coming up in two weeks and I’m currently on day 9 of rest with silly overuse stress in my hip flexors and knee. Should have rested months ago when I had some tightness, but I kept training and ended up nearly causing a full blown injury.
    It’s the worst feeling, knowing you’ve put in the work and got this close to a race only to have painful setback. Playing it by feel and easing off can sometimes still get you to that start line and consequently the finish line as well, even if you don’t arrive in the time that was planned. There is always still hope!

    • Jenny says:

      I hope you’re feeling better! The timing of an ‘injury’ or soreness is always tough but I think even more so when your race is so close. Better to be safe, than sorry I say!

  3. Kristen L says:

    Sorry to hear you had a rough week with your leg. I was in the same boat — sore ankle after twisting it on my run last weekend, and never really felt right all week. Keep staying positive and healing up. You’ll be back at it soon.

  4. Andrea says:

    So sorry girl! I think you have absolutely the right mindset regarding the race, running in general, and your health. Sounds like you caught whatever “it” is early that perhaps a couple weeks off will do the trick! You will be back in no time!! Your body will totally remember how to run when you get back at it and you will be surprised with how fast you are back at your speed/pace!! 🙂

  5. tyraaaaa says:

    I had a similar problem, but in my calf. Direct massage made no difference, because it turned out to be from sciatica. Luckily I went to a physio who figured it out really quickly, did some work releasing my butt (sounds ridiculous) and it stopped hurting immediately.

    I know your problem is different, but it’s always worth consulting a different type of specialist if you’re not getting any results!

    • Jenny says:

      You know you’re a runner when you need someone to help you release your butt, right? Believe me, I’ve definitely been there. I’ve sought a few different opinions and think the alternate marathon in November should work out for me!

  6. Jen says:

    Sorry to hear about your leg, but it sounds like you’ve got the right attitude. The most important thing is that you don’t hurt yourself even further, so I think you’re smart to be cautious and patient. Good luck!

    • Jenny says:

      Exactly. I think I’d be really mad at myself if I pushed myself even more –and cause some kind of serious injury. I’ve got too many races to dominate to do that silly stuff. 🙂

  7. Pete B says:

    Sorry to hear about your leg. Regarding taking time off: I essentially took 6 weeks off before NYC 2011 and I completed it. If I had paced myself correctly, I could have run comfortably the entire race, instead of struggling after mile 23. I guess what I’m saying is that the “hay is in the barn”. You will retain 95% of your fitness gains until then, so the main thing to do rest and get better. You can always try to run it and see what happens.

    • Jenny says:

      It’s always nice to hear about others’ experiences with this kind of thing. Hoping I haven’t lost any fitness and the alternate marathon will work out for me.

  8. qcnoel says:

    Are you sure you haven’t mastered Sleep-Running??? I’m thinking you’re leg’s giving you grief because you’re actually still running in your sleep!) Feel better soon!!

  9. Ada-Marie says:

    I am rooting for you and that pesky leg! I love your attitude. Enjoy each day and the journey. Thank you for being so honest and candid — I can so relate.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks, girl. I debated publishing this post for several reasons but I’m glad I did. Just going to focus on resting and rehabbing and see where I’m at for a fall race.

  10. Declan Xavier says:

    Sorry to hear about injury jail for you right now! Its a mean bug bouncing around. I’ve been hearing it making its way back around dangerously slow on my end too.
    You take it better than I can (or at least write it out that way) in getting comfortable with being patient.
    Glad to see you have other options in place to keep yourself busy for a plan B. I hope you heal up fast!!!

  11. Xaarlin says:

    NOO! Oh gosh this is not the kind of post I ever wanted to see from you.

    You’re doing all the right things to get healthy- try to not stress too much about the situation and hopefully everything will fall in line. You still have plenty of time before GR to get that wonky leg back to normal. Get better leg!!!

    • Jenny says:

      :/ I know, you’re tellin’ ME girl! It’s crazy how a tiny bit of soreness can turn into a nagging issue that puts you out for 2+ weeks. Trying to be as patient as I can, it comes in waves.

  12. KrisLawrence says:

    I am SO sorry this is happening. You still have 26 days, so try to be patient. I know the situation is not ideal but it sounds like you are doing everything you can to heal up fast. Sending you all the healing vibes!

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Kris! I’m just happy I have options and even if they don’t fall into place, I’ll be happy I’m resting now so that I can be healthy in 2014. Things are looking up though, PT thinks I should be set for an alternate race in November. Graston hurt so good this afternoon!

  13. ErinAMG says:

    Boooo to this. Big stinkin’ boo. I’m pullin’ for ya and really hoping that this is just a blip and that some time off will do wonders.

    However… I’ve gotta tell you, you get a major high-5 in my book because you’re being SMART. Let me put on my “I’ve run many races in my day” hat for a second and assure you that it’s damn near impossible for 99.9% of the runners out there, regardless of speed or ability, to acknowledge the fact that our bodies aren’t machines and that, sometimes, things don’t work as well as we want them to. It is so incredibly easy to get caught up in the short-term vision of our sport (especially bc we’re such crazy Type-A gals [amiright?!] who want to realize our goals that we’ve been bustin’ tail over)… BUT, in order to run forever, we gotta take care of the here and now, here and now. It’s hard to, especially if our hearts and bodies aren’t aligned, but it’s vital.

    Take my rambling as this: you’re being smart, you’re making good decisions right now, even if they’re not the ones you’d necessarily *choose* to make, and by taking a long-term look at your running and your goals, you’re doing this right. Promise. 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      your comment made me smile, Erin! As much as I didn’t want to admit that my body wasn’t working the way it should, I knew I’d be asking for trouble if I kept the tough workouts on the schedule. Besides, if it’s not fun, it’s not worth it right? Keep reminding myself I’ve got years and years and years of running ahead of me and that the fun is in the journey. (amiright?!) (can I get an amen?! haha)

  14. Francis Griffin says:

    Sorry to hear about the balky wheel. Can totally empathize with feeling injured, fatigued and stressed out when body breaks down a month before a marathon. It only seemed to heighten the stress when I started to research every backup marathon within 200 miles of home 2-4 weeks after my planned marathon.

    It’s smart that you didn’t try to run through it (whatever it is) last week. You’re experienced enough to figure out if you’re sick (sneaky colds are going around Chicago now that schools are back in), fatigued, overtrained, over-raced or injured.

    Even if you don’t make it to the starting line, your training cycle seems like a success with the Hood to Coast and other races. If you do Grand Rapids or another fall marathon, you can always view a non-PR race as a test lab to try out some new marathon strategies, shoes or fuels.

    The other silver lining is that you’ve already entered Boston. If you are put on forced rest, you’ll hit your next training cycle that much more refreshed, and you’ll able to crush the Newton hills.

    • Jenny says:

      You’re right Francis! There’s a lot to look forward to. And I’m really excited about possibly just spectating my friends’ races at Grand Rapids. We often race together and it would be a treat to see each of them cross the finish line. Thanks for helping me look on the bright side

  15. scanney says:

    Such a bummer. I’ve been pushing aside this nagging tightness in my left hamstring for the past two weeks…but Sunday it felt so creaky. I pushed through monday’ s workout but probably should have taken it off. I’m hoping that with todays rest and massage plus the chiro tomorrow i’ll be OK. But you are so right about missed miles. once you start adding them up in your head you’re toast. this was supposed to be my highest mileage week this training cycle. ugh.. worst feeling ever.
    best of luck. healing thoughts your way!

    • Jenny says:

      We’re living the same life, girl! The week that I was forced to rest was supposed to be my peak week. And even though it’s only been 2 weeks of creaky runs, it feels like forever. The good news is that things are looking up and the PT was able to release my quad a bit today. More massage and Graston next week and I should be able to make a decision about an alternate marathon then. My PT is a close friend and made me feel ‘normal’, as in it’s normal to deal with these little issues with as many workouts and miles we’re running. So, keep your head up and listen to your body like you already are and you’ll be fine!

  16. Britt @ Chicago Runner Girl says:

    how’s it coming along? ah if running would just always be gentle on the body…

    don’t let this dampen your spirits! if it were a cake walk, then it wouldn’t be worth it girl! a marathon isn’t a marathon if the training doesn’t offer some sort of physical or mental challenge before. besides, a few days off can sometimes do wonders for the body even when we swear it doesn’t.

    sending you lots of healing and warm wishes friend.

    • Jenny says:

      Hey rockstar! You’re right. It’s never easy but it’s always worth it. Last week and even early this week, my emotions were all OVER the place. I went to the PT today and he was able to release my quad with Graston for the first time in 2 weeks. And now I’m actually feeling confident about an alternate race in November. I might have to reassess my goals but for now, rest and targeted massage seems to be helping. Not out of the woods yet, but getting there.

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