Sunday, February 17, 2013

Post Marathon Total Body Destruction

Once upon a time, I was a strong, fierce 3:31 marathoner.

These days, I've felt more like the old lady from the LifeCall commercial. Remember?
"I've fallen, and I can't get up!"

Recovery has been ROUGH.

The quick back story here is that through no fault of my coach's or my own, I went into my most recent marathon a bit overtrained.

Looking back, I think it all started unraveling 3 weeks before the race. I ran a 5K on January 5th, and I managed a sweet PR! (20:37) I didn't blog about it because I am lazy. The following day (Sunday), I ran an *easy* 22-miler at 9:02P. Then my legs proceeded to DIE. I truly never knew what "dead legs" were before then, but now I do. My recovery run on Monday was run at 9:52P. I even wore my HR monitor so that I wouldn't push the pace. Not that I really could anyway because my legs would go no faster. Tuesday was a 4 X 1200 track workout where I absolutely couldn't hit my numbers. By Wednesday, I decided a rest day was in order. I did bounce back on Thursday, but I think by then, my R leg "sensation" had started. It was the same sensation that I had back in summer 2011.

I ended up running a solid 18-miler with a FAST friend here two weeks before the marathon. I was really worried about my leg at that point, but it turned out to be ok. We ran it at an 8:35P, and I didn't feel like my leg was getting worse. It definitely wasn't getting better but no worse, so I tried to relax.

From there, my legs never really felt like they came back. My calves were extremely sore and tender, and for 2 weeks, I babied them like crazy. Soaked them in my chilly pool, rolled them, had my husband (and a therapist!) massage them, used Biofreeze, slept in compression socks/calf sleeves almost every night.... It just wasn't enough. 

I flatlined on the graph.
(This is a great running website/blog, btw.)

I got a bit panicky and neurotic during my taper because I never got back to the "fresh leg" feeling that one should before one's race. I finally had a decent shakeout run two days before, but by then, I think I had mentally convinced myself that I was going to have a great race. I had willed my legs to give me a good run before the big dance. That being said, I could still feel the R leg niggle.

Anyway, I did have a solid race, and I'm happy with my time. A PR is a PR! Was it the time that I had planned to run? NO. My training and race paces indicated that a sub-3:30 was not only possible, it was probable. Didn't happen though, and that's ok. Next time for sure! Like my coach said a couple of weeks ago when we were trying to figure out what happened and if we made any errors, "Nothing worthwhile comes without risk."

It's been 22 days since the race, and I am JUST NOW starting to feel like I am getting back to my old self. I took Sunday (1/27) off after my race and then my coach encouraged me to start doing an "active recovery" because it would be way more beneficial than having me sit around while I waited to stop being sore. I did an easy elliptical workout on M/T (1/28-1/29), took Wednesday off (work is crazy for me on W), and then I tried a 2.5 mile run on Thursday (1/31). Ouch. And then even more ouch the next day. I was NOT ready, and my R leg was MAD. Back to the Arc Trainer.

Then I went out of town for a conference the week after that, got violently ill (totally lost my voice) and didn't do anything for 6 days (2/3-2/8). UGH! 

I did attempt a 5-mile run Saturday (2/9) after having rested my leg for those 6 days. It felt ok. Feeling optimistic, I tried an easy 8-miler the following day (2/10), and while the run again felt ok, when I woke up Monday morning, I could barely walk. (((sigh))) Back to the elliptical...

This past week, I returned to the Alter G. Such a blessing to have that available to me. I was able to get up to 85% of my body weight by Friday, and yesterday, I decided to see how I could handle another easy 5 mile run on the canals (where I do a lot of my training). It felt better than ok. I iced/rolled as soon as I got home, and I'm happy to report that this morning, I'm not limping! I'm going to try another 5 miles later. God willing, it will feel like yesterday's success. 

At any rate, there really is no rush. I knew that mentally and physically, I'd want a break after this winter marathon. My spring consists of several fun run races with friends and a cross-country move with the family. Eeeek! I don't have it in me to chase a PR right now!


  1. I'm sorry all that was so rough (and don't we all get sick after a marathon--geez--I was really ill after mine in late December *twice*), but as you said a PR is a PR. Training and peaking (and then recovery) are such a delicate dance. You'll get the training mojo back when the time is right. I think you've earned your fun (and moving is enough like the worst of training that it's good you don't have an A race on the books right now--good luck with the move, too!).

  2. It's kind of scary to have a "sensation". No doubt you pushed hard to do that 5k PR/long run following day. Dead doesn't even describe the feeling. But on a side note, how awesome to get a 5k PR during marathon training?!

    Also, I know the feeling of not having to worry about wearing the HRM on some days, since the legs can't come close to matching the HR when they are dead...

    Really coveting your alterG right now, Not doing any XT but trying to do planks, push-ups and as my knee allows, adding in some weights and resistance bands.
    I know you'll be taking down that marathon PR before you know it! Enjoy the rebuilding.

  3. This is an interesting post for me to read because I am 1 1/2 weeks away from my marathon and I am sort of going through that tired legs feeling right now. I am taking tomorrow off so maybe that will help me but I have a 5K on Saturday too (counting it as my last speed session). Anyway, I really hope to feel fresh when my marathon starts. I like that stress adaption picture. Very interesting.

    No doubt you will soon CRUSH your sub 3:30 when the time is right. Take it easy and enjoy some stress free runs. You've earned it!

  4. Hope you are starting to feel more recovered this week. Wow on that 5k, followed by a tough long run! My legs would have been dead, too. You pushed the mileage much more than I did in training- it's definitely a fine line. I feel like I should do more next time, but I also don't want to cross that line and be over-trained!

  5. Boy do I know that tired leg feeling lately. Bricks in shoes. Hope your legs start feeling better soon! Where are you moving to?!! That's scary/exciting!

  6. Nothing wrong with a slow recovery. Just enjoy some easy running

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