I'm sure I don't have to tell you that injuries suck, but I am going to anyhow! 7 weeks into my marathon training I hit a huge roadblock. At the end of week 6 I ran 10 miles on the track, which irritated my knee with all of the turning, but I worked through it not thinking much of it. Wednesday I ran 4 miles, Thursday I ran 5 miles, Saturday I ran 7 miles, and by Sunday my knee was pretty much done, but I pushed to 15 miles. Pushing through an injury is not the way to go. My mileage was pretty much at a halt for 4 weeks. I did try to be smart and rest, but I still kept testing the waters which lead to a minimal 4.5 mile running week followed by a 1.6 mile week. The third week off was a little bit better with a few 4 mile runs, but still disheartening when you are "only" running a couple of miles when your marathon training partners are building and running 17-19 miles. I kept the miles low, and then 3 weeks ago it was push or pull back time.
With the Wisconsin Marathon 6 weeks away I needed to get back to double digit runs, or I would be dropping down to the half marathon for sure. I got up early on Sunday and met with my ASR friends, and we headed out Mineral Point for our run. Fortunately for me I had my friend Nathan to run and chat with. Coming back from an injury and marathon training together are an interesting thing. In marathon training you are training not only your body, but also your mind. In any given run perhaps I feel a minor tick or twinge, but it usually is not anything to warrant stopping. In marathon training I am mentally preparing myself to keep going through perhaps pain, but where do you draw the line and stop? In my 10 mile run I felt fantastic up until about the 9 mile mark, when my knee became slightly painful. I also felt that perhaps it hurt more because I was consciously tracking how it was doing so I didn't overexert it.
Fast forward to last weekend when I was in Minneapolis, I just went out to get lost for 14-16 miles. A few times I felt a slight pull in my knee, but nothing more so I kept going. This time instead of inventorying my knee constantly I focused on maintaining proper running form and engaging my quadriceps if I felt any twinges. So what else did I do while not running? I decided to focus on swimming when my mileage was low, as well as hip strengthening. The hip strengthening exercises are really simple. While standing I place my resistance band either around my thighs or calves and do abductors to the side, front leg lifts, and back leg lifts concentrating the movement from the hips.
I hope that if you read this perhaps you will be more cautious if you feel an injury coming on. Happy running!