Maintaining a strict schedule and monitoring myself closely, I was able to keep building my long run distances. I followed Jeff Galloway’s program “to finish” a marathon as opposed to aiming for a specific finishing time. I started incorporating positive mental imagery and self talk, and stopped listening to the negativity rolling around in my head. The pain persisted but the intensity was up and down. I tried to run 24 miles for my final long run leading up to the full Marathon (2010 Disneyworld in early Jan), but by mile 22, I was in so much pain, I had tears streaming down my face while I was running! I tried to keep going but decided I’d rather stop now and rely on the 3-week taper so I could heal as much as possible before race day. The last 6 miles of a marathon are mostly in your head anyway, and I had confidence that all the mental work I’d done just to get through the training program with as little pain as possible would carry me a long way. Better yet, my husband had decided to train for it too –his first! More positive energy!!
The strategy worked and come race day, as nervous as I was to get out there, the anticipation and excitement was enough to push away any feelings of doubt or negativity – until I realized I’d left my “golden ticket” (i.e. IT compression wrap) back at the hotel room as we were getting ready to leave the pre-race zone and head out to the course starting line. I re-counted this story in more detail in another post, but to get right to the point, I didn’t end up “needing” any IT support. With crippling pain at mile 13, I chose to ignore it (and ease up on my pace). I put it right out of my head and made it to the finish line. After a year and a half of struggling with pain, one race changed how I perceive pain. My brain tries to stop me, but I know my body is capable of more. And I proved it to myself. Finally.
After taking a few weeks off following the Marathon, I eased back into my schedule, preparing for my next race. I did keep using the IT compression wrap and kinesiology tape through mid-May (after setting a PR at a Half in late March 2010), and then decided to test myself a little. Instead of using the IT wrap, I loosely wrapped pre-wrap and athletic tape around the same area where I would normally use the compression wrap and ran 6 miles on the treadmill pain-free. I tricked my brain. That’s it. I’m done with it. I know this is all in my head now and I’ve got to get over it. I haven’t used the wrap since then. The results? A second Half Marathon PR in early June and a new 5K PR on the 4th of July, breaking 24 minutes!
Yes, I am ‘considerate’ of my former IT band issues. I stretch my hips, quads and hamstrings regularly. I take ice baths after long runs and get professional deep tissue massages every 10-12 weeks. Most importantly, I don’t let thoughts of pain overtake my feelings of exhilaration and pleasure when I’m running; now, it’s the other way around.