I’m documenting my process as I recover from a tibial stress reaction, diagnosed in early September. My goal is to track the process so I can provide some insight and information to anyone else in a similar situation. This is my fourth week back to running. I’m documenting my efforts to keep track of what exactly I did to come back from my injury for future reference. Check out Part I and Part II, if you missed it!
Week 4 (10/21 – 10/27) – 40 miles
- Distance: 5 miles
- Pace: 8:31
- Run Type: Recovery
- Terrain: Emmaus Avenue (Roads)
I was being cautious since I was fresh off of the Runner’s World Festival and this was my first run of the week. It was 5:00am, so besides my legs feeling a little tired, I kept the pace very easy and felt good. No pain besides the usual muscle soreness from starting up again. Any sensation I was feeling last week in my tibia seems to have disappeared. I’m feeling more soreness and little aches in my left leg: my left hamstring and left calf. It’s nothing I feel when walking or running, just every so often when I stretch or flex the muscles afterwards. Since I’m using orthodics (for now) and I worked on strengthening different muscles in physical therapy, I’m assuming I’m feeling soreness in muscles that are working differently as I begin ramping up my mileage again.
- Distance: 5 miles
- Pace: 8:39
- Type: Recovery
- Terrain: Emmaus Avenue (Roads)
Nothing felt different from the day before: the morning miles on Emmaus Ave felt tough, and my legs still felt tired. The soreness left leg was still present but seemed to be either the same or better, not really sure. I’m very hypervigilant right now and feel every little muscle ache. It isn’t uncommon to have little aches and pains with distance running, but knowing when to rest, modify, or keep running is the hardest part.
- Distance: 10 miles
- Pace: 7:54
- Type: Lactate Threshold
- Terrain: Saucon Rail Trail
Other than the Runner’s World Festival, I hadn’t done any actual speed work since before my injury. Since I was able to sustain a decent pace for the 5 and 10K races, I thought a 10 mile tempo run would be safe to incorporate into my schedule for the week. I usually like to run my tempo pace at half marathon pace, which would be in the 7:17-7:30 range. I decided to aim for something closer to my goal marathon pace, somewhere around 7:50-8 minute miles. I felt strong and very comfortable running and found the 7:45 range to feel good. I did a two mile warm up, seven tempo miles and a one mile cool down. Many of the tempo miles were between the 7:38-7:40 range, but there were a few that were closer to the 7:48 range. Overall, I was pleased with how the run went. No sensations in the injured tibia, and I felt comfortable running with a little more intensity. The sore spots in my left leg are still present, but they still feel the same.
- Distance: 20 miles
- Pace: 8:28
- Type: Long Run
- Terrain: Pavement (Bethlehem)
I don’t prefer or recommend a long run to be 50% of my weekly miles. I really felt the need to get one of these bad boys in before the Marshall Marathon, which is right around the corner. For the past three weeks, I wasn’t sure that a 20 miler was in the cards for me before the actual race. I’d been feeling the usual aches and pains associated with starting back up. I was afraid of re-injuring my tibia or the possibility of another injury occurring from doing too much too soon. Over the past week, I finally began to feel a little stronger and more like myself. Saturday rolled around and I attempted my first (and last) long run for the upcoming marathon. Success!
I went out a little too fast: the group I began the run with is faster than me. Any regular, middle distance run and I could have kept up for the whole thing. Being fresh off of an injury and already pushing my luck by attempting a 20 miler made me think twice about sticking with them for the entire run. Around mile 7, we were averaging well below an eight minute mile so I chose to leave the group and run my own pace. I’m glad I did. If it were only a 10 mile run, I would have just sucked it up and finished with them. But I still had 13 miles to go, and I didn’t know how I’d handle the high mileage. I’m not going to say it was my easiest 20 miler I’ve ever done, but it wasn’t completely unfortunate, either. The hardest miles for me were from 10-13, when my legs felt a little heavy from the faster start. I broke out the Gu, and got some water and felt much better for the rest of the run. As a matter of fact, I would even go as far as to say that the last three miles felt really good. I was making up the route as I was running, and my watch beeped to indicate that I’d made it to the 20 mile mark about a quarter mile from my car. I considered running an extra mile and my legs felt good enough to do it, but I opted for a cool down walk instead. I wasn’t out there trying prove anything, just to get a little piece of mind. I know I can run 20 miles. I’ve done it many, many times. But before my injury, I only got in a few good 18 milers – not a 20. So that meant the last time I ran that far was June, and I’d just feel more comfortable running Marshall with one recent, good long run.
Well, there’s that. I should probably be a lot more concerned about that. But that’s a post for another day.
This week, my plan is to run another 40 miles. In my first week back, I ran three days. The second week was four days, and then the third week had five days of running, due to the Runner’s World Festival. Although the Runner’s World Festival was probably not my best idea, it did help to get me running more weekly miles and boost my confidence.
To accommodate the 20 miler and increase my overall mileage this past week, I ran a total of four days. Since I’m not going to be running a 20 miler this week, I’m going to try another week with five days and keep my overall mileage about the same. I reviewed what Pfitzinger suggests for two weeks out from a race, and based what I’m doing around his training plan but with a few modifications.
Pfitzinger recommends one VO2 max session, but I am not about to start adding track workouts this close to the marathon. Since I’ve done some lactate threshold (tempo) miles, I’m swapping the VO2 max session out for one of those. I have a few recovery miles early in the week, a general aerobic run, and a medium-long run. Pfitzinger defines anything less than a 16 mile run as a medium-long run, so I’m planning to run about 13-15 miles. When I was training for the marathons in Vancouver and Anchorage and was sidelined with a femoral shaft stress fracture, I did 15 miles as my last medium long run and had success with that.