Monumental Marathon: Fast Forward to Taper!

So, last time I wrote, I updated week 6 of 12. Annnnnnd now I’m tapering. I guess that’s what happens when you run a 12 week marathon training cycle. You run run run run run for what seems like a few weeks and then it’s all over!

Here’s a brief recap of the weeks that you missed (note: a LOT happened):

Week 7: 4 runs, 3 spins, & 38 miles.

A big DERP. After monitoring minor knee pain for 2-3 runs, it became a problem (although still relatively minor). I’m 80% sure it was all residual from falling on my knee cap 10 weeks ago. I did not see a sports doctor because it wasn’t changing my gait and I was pretty sure that it was patellar tendonitis. I felt tightness under my knee cap toward the end of longer runs/workouts, but the pain came and went, as tendonitis tends to do. I managed 4 runs this week, but replaced recovery days with easy spins at the gym (3 hours total). I went from 53 miles in Week 6 to 38 in Week 7, so I threw the scheduled workouts out the window entirely. I managed 13 miles on my long run but was still annoyed by my knee the entire time. At this point, I was really reliving the same emotions of this exact week last year. Low point! I saw my acupuncturist on Wednesday – small improvement after the first treatment.

2014-09-28 10.33.14

Cranky knee. Low point!

Week 8: 5 runs, 1 spin, 1 full rest day, & 48 miles.

Weeeee! Ok, back at it — slowly, but surely. My knee was cranky again on Monday, so I was really looking forward to a second acupuncture treatment. And guess what? It must have worked! She needled the s*&^ out of my knee and the release points targeting it. Acupuncture has helped relieve pain in two running-related situations in the past year and I really recommend it. I’m also very lucky with my acupuncturist because she has a strong athletic background. She had major reconstructive surgery on her knee after playing soccer in college – and eventually found that acupuncture helped her heal. So, knowing that I was seeing somewhat of a “knee specialist” made me feel comfortable. It’s also relieving to have someone say to you “I trust you as an athlete & I think athletes should continue to do what is normal for them.” She encouraged me to push through discomfort (to a point, of course) and I’m glad I listened to her. I never let the discomfort go beyond a 5 out of 10.  I also started wearing a patellar tendon band around my knee to take some of the pressure off the joint while running (surprisingly, also recommended by Kelly, my acupuncturist). It worked wonders, but I was still really cautious doing scheduled workouts. I was in a MUCH better mood this week after doing a pseudo speed workout, a 4 mile tempo, and a FAST finish 18-miler on Sunday. I felt so good on my long run that I actually considered squeezing in another 20 (since I had only done 1 in the cycle so far). I decided not to push my chances and be happy with a really solid 18 with a fast finish: 7:26, 7:26, 7:26, 7:15, 7:22, & 7:06. — No one was more surprised than me at those split times! I think my plan of running every other day early in the week and giving my knee plenty of rest worked, judging by how great I felt that weekend.

:sigh.of.freaking.relief:

2014-10-05 14.27.58

Long run dessert, disguised as fuel.

Week 9: 5 runs, 2 full rest days, & 59 miles. 

PEAK WEEK! My knee was ready to GO just in time for peak week, thank goodness. I didn’t wake with any pain and I felt like I was depending a little less on the patellar knee band on each consecutive run. No knee discomfort this week.

Monday: Easy 6

Tuesday: 12 x 600 – 11 mi total

Wednesday: Easy hour, 7.66 mi

Thursday: 8 mi steady state – 12 mi total

Friday: REST

Saturday: 22 miles! 7:50 average, followed by an ice bath + Chi Marathon expo with Manny.

2014-10-11 11.06.39-1

Sunday: “REST” — Today was more like active recovery because I was spectating the Chicago Marathon like crazy all morning. I’m pretty sure my heart rate was high for several hours between anxiously tracking friends, getting to three different spots on the course, and blowing that darn vuvuzela. It was such a fun day!

All I can say is that this cycle has been quite the ride. Let’s recap, shall we?!

I fell with 100% of my weight straight down on my knee cap in Week ONE (ridiculous) of 16. I was less than a mile from home when it happened. I blame: 1) spacing out for 5 seconds and 2) massive Chicago potholes and treacherous sidewalks for the fall. Cue panic and heartbreak and worry. Followed by clear MRI (no connective tissue damage), diagnosis of prepatellar bursitis, and 2 weeks of prescribed time off. Inflammation went down with rest, ice, and ibuprofen but not sufficiently to run pain-free and still put in a good training cycle. The sports doc approved a cortisone shot, followed by another week total rest from running (3 weeks total). I became good friends with the spin bike — and was so relieved that I could still get closer to a runner’s high.

The return to running after 3 weeks off was pretty much glorious, but difficult and clunky and weird. I didn’t have any knee pain but continued to ice my knee cap nightly. I wasn’t committing to any solid tempos or speedwork in the beginning. I ran short tempo surges and slowly built up to steady states and short tempo runs. As with any injury, I still worried that my knee wasn’t 100% — even if it felt fine on workouts and long runs. I’m not surprised that I had some minor tendonitis after 6 weeks of pain-free running, considering how hard I fell on my knee, but I am surprised how quickly I seem to have recovered from it. Since last fall, I think I’ve become even more sensitive to small aches and pains – because preventing those aches and pains from becoming big, nasty ones is really important (and can be the deciding factor between running the race or NOT running it.)

MonumentalTrainingEscapades

After 9 short weeks of training, it’s already time to taper. [read: holy crap] I think I did the best I could in a very short amount of time, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not freaking out about running 26.2. I’ve been reminding myself that I have a really solid YEAR of running in my legs and, even if Boston didn’t demonstrate my hard work, I still have another chance to enjoy racing 26.2 this year. I don’t normally run longer than 20 miles in training, but this cycle was anything but normal. My long runs were: 13, 15, 15, 18, 20, 15, 13, 18, and 22 miles. Just knowing that I have the ability to run 22 miles & only be slightly fatigued the next day makes me feel like I’m ready. It’s less than ideal, but I made progress in a short amount of time. Not to mention, life has has been absolutely insane this cycle. Between a lot of work travel, big projects, moving, & getting The Man to the start line of his first 26.2, I’m just proud of myself for making it out alive. We’ll see how it works out in a few short weeks!

Bring on the taper crazies.

-J

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6 thoughts on “Monumental Marathon: Fast Forward to Taper!

  1. Pete B says:

    I trained starting from a base of zero miles for nine weeks last year and only finished 9.5 minutes slower than my all out training blitz this year. So, maybe you’ll have the advantage of being “fresher” for the race than you would otherwise! Good luck!

  2. jenchoosesjoy says:

    Wow…you’ve had a lot going on this training cycle! I have a cranky knee after running Chicago. I might seek out an acupuncturist if it continues. Thanks and good luck with your taper 🙂

  3. ErinAMG says:

    Always enjoying reading your updates and coincidentally, was just thinking about you and your training (#weirdo) the other day. I think it’s good to be nervous before 26.2–it means you care–but I also think you have a lot more mentally and physically invested, stuff that time didn’t permit you to tap into in this short cycle–than what’s evident from your workouts (kinda what Pete said). I’ve no doubt you’ll rock Indy; just show up and let those legs flyyyyy, girl! Cheering from CA!!!!

  4. KrisLawrence says:

    You were so smart about the knee pain and didn’t hesitate to be proactive about it. You surprised yourself in training and I bet you’ll surprise yourself on race day too! Happy tapering!

  5. natrunsfar says:

    Hi Jenny, I just found your blog! I am going through something similar (but more severe)/ I have a stress fracture in my right knee and have to take 6 WEEKS off from running (I am a little more than half way through) which will give me a 12 week cycle to train for Boston. (yikes). I am feeling so inspired by your story. I haven’t tried acupuncture but sounds great. I have been biking on stationary bike and pool running, but feeling a little better now after hearing your story about the 12 week cycle!
    Thanks and happy running! Hope your knee is all healed!

    • Jenny says:

      Hey!! Thanks for reading! 6 weeks off takes some serious discipline, but it sounds like you’re being really smart with cross-training. Keep it up and good luck with your cycle (12 weeks is enough, I promise! Tough, but enough)

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