Post-Marathon Reverse Taper Week: Sigh of Relief

Weekly Summary: 6/8/15-6/14/15

Around mid-morning on Sunday, I finally exhaled and texted my FMC the good news: I had made it through my first post-marathon running week without any knee pain. Until this moment, I had not dared to think about training for Ventura in September, but now, now I can get out of this three-week limbo period and commit to entering another marathon training cycle. Yay? I mean, Yay, I love summer running in the San Fernando Valley!

It may seem strange that I’d wait three weeks to declare that I was clear of injury and ready to start training again, but my last two marathons ended in an IT band injury that put me out of commission for a good four months each time, and the last came a week after I had done some short recovery runs post-marathon and thought I was good to go, so I did not let myself think ahead until I cleared this final hurdle.

This IT band thing has been a monkey on my friggin’ back (or a semi-constant thought in the back of my head) since September 2013. See, after a strong training cycle, the side of my left knee inexplicably got a stabbing pain during the Ventura Marathon that had me walking most of the last six miles. Up until then, I had had only one brief IT band issue in 2009 that lasted like one week. I was truly shocked as there was no indication that this was a problem – I usually developed calf strains. After ART, Pilates, and inserting a glute strengthening routine into my cross-training, I ran the Mountains2Beach Marathon in 2014. While I knew my knees were feeling it the last six miles, they were not hobbled like they were at Ventura the previous year. After doing a few three mile runs post-marathon, I thought I was healed up and on my way to training for another marathon, but then two weekends after the marathon, I went to run ten miles, and my right knee got that dreaded IT band ache around mile seven. After resting it a couple days, I dialed it down but then started getting that stabbing pain at the two and three mile mark. IT band was back, now in my other knee, and next thing I knew I was back on the ART schedule and out of training for four months. This was super discouraging and the reason why I was so hesitant to say I was ready to start marathon training again, even though I didn’t feel injured during M2B last month.

Even though I walked a bunch in Cuba and did some stretching and light upper body/core/leg strengthening, it was still a bit of a shock to go from basically like 0 miles miles per week to 32 miles this week. My body responded better than expected. Yes, running six miles felt like sixteen, but I didn’t feel overly tired or sore — more like I was just not used to running like someone who planned to run a marathon in three months. The week’s runs of six, four, and six miles were all run at an easy pace, and I felt not a twinge in my knee. My heart smiled a little bit.

I still held my breath, though, waiting for the long run. In just three weeks I had already forgotten even how to prep for a long run. Oh, yeah, what do I want to eat the night before? And that’s right, I need to get my gels and electrolyte pills out, and make sure my iPod’s got the stuff I want on there. Even though it as only going to be in the 10-12 mile range, it was still worthy of taking note. After a successful night of prep, I got out there. Great running weather for my triumphant return – June gloom was in full bloom.

June Gloom

Things were going well, neither the physical nor mental aspects of the long run were an issue. However, time was. I was late for an appointment but still wanted to get in over ten miles, so since I was feeling good I threw caution to the wind and turned the last four miles of my intended easy-pace long run into marathon pace miles. Again, my old bod answered the bell! My marathon pace for my last training cycle was 9:55, and I ran my last four miles at 9:46, 9:45, 9:32, and 9:08.

While I hoped to hit the trails the next day for my recovery run, I quit while I was ahead and stayed on flat land. Finally, at 11:30 AM, I texted my FMC the good news that I had made it through a 32-mile week, including my long run, injury free and was now ready for the next training schedule.

After a two-week break, my weekend slipped back into training weekend. Meaning, I took a championship nap the day of my long run, ate anything that wasn’t nailed down (aided by a graduation party that had a taco truck), and got my weekly foot massage. The only thing missing was my ice bath, but I suspect we’ll be reunited shortly.

So, dear blogosphere, while I await my schedule, I plan to up my weekly mileage and long run, and hope to make it something like a 7-4-7-15-4 week, and what the hell, aim for five of my long run miles being at marathon pace. And, this time, THIS TIME, I’m going to do more strength training and core work. Oh, if only I hadn’t slept in and missed it this morning. Well, nothing says I’m ready to marathon train quite like blowing off my cross-training.

Ima coming for you, Ventura Marathon 2015.

Hope everyone has a great running week!

Total weekly mileage: 32
Long run: 11 miles (4 MP)
Cross-training: Um, I’m recovering from a marathon, please stop bugging me about this!

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