Thursday, July 10, 2008

Listen Carefully - Notes to the Novice Runner

I consider myself a relative newbie to marathon training. Though I have completed 3 marathons, I still have more questions than I have answers. One of the biggest things I have learned, however, is to listen to my body and allow time to recover - to rest!

When I first started preparing for a marathon in 2006, I used a training plan for beginners developed by the Furman Institute, commonly referred to as FIRST. It entailed just 3 days of running and 2-3 days of hard cross-training. The weekly mileage started out around 20 miles and worked up to about 35 before the taper.

I opted to go with aerobics for 2x a week for the cross-training component. My gym has a high-energy 70 minute class that incorporated steps and resistance. Most importantly, it was fun. I discovered though, shortly into training, that the bouncing and running was too much on my heel. I developed Plantar Fasciitis in my left heel and had to take several weeks off.

Upon the advice of a podiatrist, I started swimming. I joined the Masters swim team. The workouts are varied - preventing boredom and the group setting provides me needed encouragement. I picked up my training plan where I had left off, modifying distances of the long runs and the paces slightly.

Due to a fall during a trail race, an injury prevented me from running the esteemed 18-mile long run. I finished my first marathon, but was determined to do better. I had so many set backs that first training cycle that I knew if all went well, I could make dramatic improvement.

In 2007, I switched training plans - choosing one that required substantially more mileage. I finished my 2nd marathon and improved my rookie time by over 38 minutes! In 2008, I finished my 3rd... I had suffered from burn out during this cycle, frequently cutting my runs short and rarely hitting tempo pace, so I wanted only to finish. I was surprised that I improved again, though only by 2 minutes.

As the fall marathon season approaches, I am again training for 26.2. I desperately want to prove to myself that I can achieve my pace goals. I want to push myself harder. However, since the Dirty Half in early June, my hip has been nagging me to take it easy. Somedays I hardly notice the ache. Other days, my walking stride is altered and I take ibuprofen (something I rarely do).

Essentially, my body is telling me to be careful. Don't push too hard. Stretch. Take it easy. I do my best to listen.

OSN: 1850 meters
400m warm-up; 200m kicking w/ fins; 7 x 50m free drill w/ fins; 2 x 150m IM (no free; 25 drill 25 stroke); 3 x 100 m free; 100m IM; 100m free; 100m IM.


  1. It's so easy to get caught up in trianing and forget what's best for our bodies! Listen Carefully :)

  2. Amen! The trick is convincing the brain to go along with it hehe

  3. Be careful with that hip. Those injuries can be brutal. Do you ever use The Stick to roll out your legs? I've had hip and ITB problems in the past and The Stick SAVED ME. I use it before runs and before stretching sessions. It has made such a big difference in my running and has helped me stay relatively injury-free.

  4. I wish I could swim better, and more. I think it's the safest kind of cross-training. Unfortunately I'm not a strong swimmer and doing laps is so much harder for me than running, it's hard to motivate myself.

  5. You need to work the IT band. Stretches and rolling. Even when it feels OK, it needs attention. Dee Dee is going through the same thing.

  6. If there is one thing I've learned in the last two years, it is to pay attention and be patient. The suggestions for the roller (I use Tiger Tail and a white foam roller) are good, and so are Wes's suggestions for working the area. I have an exercise that we do in Pilates that is killer. Anyway, good luck!

  7. Ive been amazed how much the roller helps my chronically tight hips.

    It can be hard to listen to your body when it is saying to hold off

  8. Great advice and sound advice! I hope my second sees an improvement anywhere in the vicinity of yours!

  9. And I hope the hips doing better.

  10. Always, listen to your body. (I think you should throw yoga in your mix, for both strength and flexibility.) Sounds like you have a good attitude towards training, and swimming is an excellent workout. Hope your hip comes around soon. As for always getting better during marathons, that waxes and wanes. I got better for six straight marathons, then suddenly got shoved backwards by 44 minutes! (Chicago 2007 fun run plus a cold.) Next marathon (Flying Pig) I got back in my range though (sub-4).

  11. I am definitely a novice. And I know to listen to my body. Good words of wisdom to live by.

    Oh wait until I show you a picture of the first 5K. I wanted to die when I saw it!

    I haven't run since we've moved. So this week means I'll be training "anew"...

  12. Burned out...I know that well. I hope the hip is ok and most of all enjoy your runs!:)


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