July 2, 2013

July: Overcome Aches and Pains

Let's talk about running. This is, after all, a running blog.

I haven't run much in the last two months. I'm ok with that. I wanted it that way. I needed to take a break after tackling 3 marathons last year and jumping into a 4th training cycle.

Now, I'm ready to run. I'm craving an 18 mile run like you wouldn't believe.

Except that right now, I'm just a little bit sidelined. Not too much, just a little bit.

Saturday, I ran 1 mile. Last night, after an amazingly intense yoga class, I ran 2.5 before my knee started to hurt. I'm going to call it progress, especially since it isn't hurting today. The theme for July according to the Runners' World Guide to a Fitter, Faster You is Overcoming Aches and Pains.

I guess that's a fitting theme for the month while I'm struggling with a case of IT Band Syndrome. (I'm pretty sure my muscle strain is healed since I'm no longer experience pain in my hamstring).

We all know that stretching, foam rolling, cross training and strength training are good for us as runners. Yet consistently, I read blog posts and hear runners talk about how this training cycle, they're actually going to do all of those things and they do...for the first month or so of training and then running comes front and center.


I have always been great about stretching and foam rolling. Strength and cross? Not so much. You know what else I'm not good at? Warming up, and I'm starting to see more and more that a dynamic warm up is just as important as all of the above. So, this month, on top of everything else, I'm adding warm ups to my run.

I'll be running on the treadmill until I'm not experiencing knee pain anymore, so last night, I headed up to the gym and walked briskly for 10 minutes before heading out to the roof deck (my gym is on the top floor of my apartment building) and doing a series of warm-ups - high knees, butt kicks, and grapevines -  followed by some light stretching, before starting up the treadmill for an easy run. (This article has some great warm-ups tailored specifically to the kind of running workout you're doing.) After my run, I stretched, foam rolled and iced my knee for an hour (20 minutes on, 20 off and then on again).

The thing I'm realizing is that...in almost every training cycle I've gone through since I've started running, I've had to take at least a full week off from training to do some malady or ailment. I've been very fortunate that I've never been forced to back out of a race because of an injury (knock on wood) but maybe the reason I haven't gone sub-4 just yet, is because I'm not taking my training seriously enough.

Just running isn't enough.

If I'm not making the time to do all of the things that are going to make me a better, faster, stronger runner then, what's the point? So, that's the plan for this month. Keep doing yoga. Start working my arms and legs. Warm up before every run. Take rest days. Work my core. Work my muscles. Running is the easy part. I can get excited about going for a run. Warming up and lifting? Not so much. But it's time to change that mindset and approach all of these other parts of training as just that, integral parts of training that are just as important as tempo runs and track workouts.

If I can make it to 6 pain-free miles this weekend, I'll feel great going into marathon training. Right now, though, I'm just taking it one step at a time.


  1. Nice job with working more than just running in! Being injured is making me come up with more creative ideas to get my sweat on. You have been a yoga machine though and that is great for stretching and strength!! I hope that once I am back to running I still make strength a priority. The stronger I am the less likely I will get injured and you too!

  2. I had some knee pain, but read it was mosst likely due to weak hips (in runners).
    Two exercises that have helped me:

  3. I agree 100% that strength training and cross training are so key to preventing injuries. I really amped up my training this spring and while I have previously suffered from injuries, I didn't hurt once! I chalk it all up to cross training.


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