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Injury-Free Marathon Training

Posted Aug 01 2013 6:55am
Miles run so far this week: 12

You read that correctly. I'm attempting to get through this marathon-training cycle as injury free as possible. 

Yesterday, I had a beautiful seven-mile run into the Downs (read: very hilly) that was in itself fine. That is, the seven miles of running did not bother me one bit. So I think my endurance is definitely where it needs to be and probably better than expected. My knee, however, felt the need to make itself heard. So I'll have to figure something out about that. 

That's the sea all the way back there...
The plan for the next 13 weeks is as follows:
  • Run: 3 times/week
  • Strength train: 2-3 times/week
  • Yoga and/or Pilates: 1-2 times/week
I know this actually seems like a lot. It probably is. But I don't think I can manage any less without getting really grumpy. So hear me out.

Random pic from yesterday's run: the running company I keep.
Laura sent me over the FIRST marathon plan, which has you running only three times per week. Lots has been written about the plan, for example this article on Runner's World, and it seems to do the trick. The rationale behind it is to minimize the risk of injury and only put in three good sessions, no empty miles of aimless plodding. 

I'm hoping that by keeping my running to a minimum, I'll allow my knee enough rest between runs to recover and hopefully get rid of the pain altogether.

She had no interest in posing for me. Despite all my coaxing.
Strength training:  

I've seen tremendous improvements in my strength in the three months that I've now been doing CrossFit, so it obviously works for me. Now, I know there's a lot of stuff flying around about the high risk of injury doing CF, etc. but I do think that much of that can either be blamed on bad coaching or over-competitive athletes (or idiots who step off boxes and onto med balls!). 

I'm lucky to have found a box that has excellent coaches. And that I'm not competitive! I don't mind doing all the scaled-down versions of the workouts. I'd rather focus on form and technique rather than banging out a gazillion deadlifts that will end up hurting my back and taking me out for a week of enforced rest.

Seen that I never did much more than 25kg squats, I'm pretty happy that I can now backsquat my body weight, front squat about 40kg and deadlift 65kg! On top of that I'm banging out push ups and banded pull-ups like it's my job, so I'm ok with that. All of this might be 'only' bronze level according to CrossFit, but no one there judges me for it and in my book that's one helluva strength session to make sure these legs and body can take on 26.2 miles in October.

Shameless selfie at top of the hill

Part of my knee problems stem from a muscle imbalance in my leg, which I'm trying to rectify by doing big-ole strength moves like the ones we do at CrossFit. However, there are also a lot more subtle glute- and core exercises that will help improve my current state. That's why I signed up to a weekly Pilates-for-Runners class, hoping that this way I'm forced to concentrate at least once a week on doing the proper strengthening exercises that most physios would proscribe. 

Two sessions in and I can assure you that I walk out of there with abs and glutes screaming. But fear not, it's a good pain (yeah, they do exist).

Now, if there's any time left in the week, I'd happily throw in a yoga class, be it Bikram at the studio or the Yoga Studio app on my phone. One intense stretching session a week is  probably more than welcome by this beaten-up body of mine. 

I wasn't kidding about the elevation.

This is something I really want to pay better attention to this time around, seen that I intend to double my distance. I think my stomach is on the more sensitive side when it comes to running and fuel and I've tried gels that have given me cramps (I think they were the caffeine ones). During my half-training cycle I worked out what gels work for me, but now it's also time to figure out the calf-cramping issue. So I've just invested into three lovely tubes of Nuun to see if the extra electrolytes can help nib that problem in the derrière. 

Maybe less of this, more 'proper' nutrition?!
That's the plan for right now. Obviously I've learned that no plan ever works out as, well, planned. So I'm going in with an open mind, happy to adjust training runs, strength sessions as and if required and just continue to pray to the running gods to allow me a stress- and pain-free training cycle. 

What's your A-race for the season?

Do you work out a race-strategy beforehand?  

Is there anything else/different you do to get your body race-ready? 

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