I had some scheduled posts last week, but you might have noticed mostly radio silence out of me. That usually indicates one of two things: things are busy at work, or something bad happened.
It was both. It’s the end of a marking period so massive amounts of grading is happening, but there is also the issue of my recently fucked up big toe. Yep. Fuck my life. I’m in a bit of a rough place here.
I came down off of my peak week high very abruptly when everything came crashing down (quite literally) on Monday night. I was in pole class. Earlier that day, our instructor had tagged us in a photo on Instagram that looked scary and I thought, nope, save that for after Boston. It looked scary because it was a really bendy one for your hamstrings. When our instructor showed us how to do it in class, it was apparent that you could just not extend into the move the whole way and avoid overstretching. So I tried it. And I did it – twice. It wasn’t perfect, and I’m a perfectionist. So I tried it again. On the third try, I fell off the pole. I have the fall on video – nothing about it looks scary, it looks controlled. I’ve had WAY scarier falls before. But as I was walking around class, something felt weird in my big toe. As I drove home, it started to hurt. As the night wore on, it swelled up like a balloon.
So this should be a happy, “oh yay taper week one is in the books!” post. Instead, it’s a post with daily toe updates. The good news is that it actually doesn’t really hurt running. The bad news is that it is only getting marginally better each day. It’s a nightmare. Also, this is not the first time that I’ve approached a marathon with a fucked up toe. I did something very similar a few years ago to the other toe in a yoga class (of all places). I jumped out of a forearm stand and jammed my opposite toe the exact same way. Do you see a trend here? Apparently I go a little too hard in everything…including yoga. As it turns out, I ran the Philly Marathon a week later anyway. However, I was pacing someone so it wasn’t a PR attempt.
I realize that by doing activities other than running, I’m taking a risk. But I’m not an Olympian and there are hobbies other than running bring me great joy – like pole dancing. Am I scared to keep pole dancing? No. I’ve been back to class on my regularly scheduled days. The only days I plan to skip are a few days leading up to Boston. I am not the kind of person who lives my life in fear, and I won’t avoid an activity that I love because it might injure me. I might get injured driving to work. My friend tripped stepping off a sidewalk last week and has one of the worst ankle sprains I’ve ever seen – and she was just going about her life. I truly believe that I’ve reaped a lot of benefits from pole dancing. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and I think that it’s helped my running tremendously. The timing of this, however, SUCKS.
When bad things happen to me, I suck at coping with them. I go into shut down mode. Normally this means skipping basically everything and eating anything I can get my hands on. I spent the week hanging onto all of my progress by a thread: the diet, the sleep schedule, the core/hip/glute work – it still happened, but it took a LOT of convincing to keep up with it all. It was rough. I didn’t blog – total honesty here: not only did I not write in my own blog, but I really did not read anyone else’s. I haven’t written back to your comments and I am so sorry. I’m going to get on that today. I just needed to take a step back for a hot minute. There’s only so much a girl can take, especially after turning my life upside down (once again!) for the past 16 weeks.
Anyway, life goes on, and so does my taper. Here’s the pace guide I’m using:
Marathon Goal – 3:05
Marathon Pace/Tempo Runs – 7:03/mile
Recovery Runs – 9:11/mile
Aerobic A/Easy – 8:36
Aerobic B/Easy – 8:01
Long Run: 7:42
Monday, 3/28: 8 Mile Easy Run + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness
I was off of work for Easter Break, and dropped my regular Monday 10 miler to an 8 miler. Hansons said to do 6, but that’s what they recommend each week. It’s one place where I’d been jacking up my miles (as recommended in their program modifications). In light of tapering and the speedy 20 miler I’d logged the day before, I dropped it to 8 miles. I was tired, but the run felt okay. I came home, did some core work (MYRTLs, and NTC’s Alpha Abs workout) and headed to pole.
Here’s the move I was attempting:
And here is a still shot of the moment that fucked up my toe. Sorry for the ass shot. It’s the foot on the left:
I didn’t bend it at a weird angle, which is good. It is not at all bruised – as in discolored. It’s technically like the “knuckle” at the base of the big toe. Based on the angle I bent my foot and how flat my toes are on the ground there, I think I hyperextended a tendon. Basically, a sprained big toe. It’s the only thing that makes sense. As you read on, you’ll see my mileage and paces did not suffer. Being as it is the big toe, if it were broken, I don’t think the mileage and pace would have been possible.
Tuesday, 3/29: Track Workout: 3 mile warm up, 4×1.5 miles (@ MP -10 seconds/mile) w/800 meter recoveries, 3 mile cooldown (14 miles) + Core/Strength/MYRTLs
I woke up Tuesday morning and was crying as I hobbled around my house. You have got to be fucking kidding me. This is bad. It still wasn’t discolored from a bruise, but it was swollen for sure.
I wore my Danskos to work thinking the support would be a good thing, but where the toe of the shoe cuts off dug right into the painful area. I was barely able to walk all day and I was sick over the injury. Towards the end of the school day, I was alone in my classroom for my planning period and I took my shoes off. Made a huge difference. I jogged around my classroom. Not bad at all. I decided I would show up to the trail and try the warm up. If that sucked, I would pull the plug. Not worth doing more damage.
I slipped on my Pure Flows and immediately thought, “these feel great. Why did I bother with the Danskos all day?” This was promising. I began my warm up with a mile around the park so I was always in close proximity of my car in case I needed to be done. For as painful walking was all day long, this felt…almost fine? Weird. I guess it SORT of makes sense – this was not caused by running, so it’s not weird that running doesn’t aggravate it. The weird part is that walking hurts, but running doesn’t. So I started to head out on the trail. My warm up miles were 8:02, 8:03, and 7:55. I felt great running, but fearful.
I began my repeats and expected the worst. Much to my surprise, it went extremely well. I was scheduled to do 4×1.5 miles at marathon pace minus 10 seconds/mile. My goal was to run each repeat at a 6:50 pace. This meant that each 1.5 mile segment should happen in 10:15 or less.
- 1.5 mile repeat #1 – 9:56 (6:37 pace)
- 1.5 mile repeat #2 – 9:58 (6:38 pace)
- 1.5 mile repeat #3 – 9:55 (6:36 pace)
- 1.5 mile repeat #4 – 9:51 (6:31 pace)
I would walk for 400, and jog for 400 in between and I felt no pain running – but when I walked, it felt sore. What the HELL. My cooldown miles were 7:57, 8:20 and 8:14. It was really odd. My foot actually felt less swollen as I ran. I left feeling a bit relieved, still very leery, and still a bit anxious. I went home, did I did MYRTLs, core, and NTC’s Runner Strength and Balance. That NTC workout is only 16 minutes and the last two minutes are stretching. The parts of the workouts where you had to do some lunges did NOT feel great on my toe at all. I did my usual planks and could barely balance on that foot. I started to get cranky and concerned, so I began icing the shit out of my foot and taking ibuprofen in mass quantities (something I rarely do but I was scared).
About the workout though: this was the same workout that I did in Week 12. Not only did it feel easier, the paces were quicker. Normally, this is something I would look up prior to the run but since I was so consumed with toe worry, I hadn’t even thought about it until after. I was so pleased with the pace when I compared the first workout with this workout! Almost like a glimmer of hope.
Wednesday, 3/30: Core + Barre Strength + 2.3 Mile Walk + Pole Fitness
My foot felt no worse for the wear as I got out of bed on Wednesday, which relieved me a bit. After 14 miles with some speed in there, I was worried how it would feel. But it was no worse than when I woke up Tuesday morning.
I had a 10 mile race on the schedule for Saturday – I was going to use it as my tempo run. So I could either rest or run easy on Wednesday. I chose rest. I made it through the speed workout the day before, so I gave it the chance to calm down. I went to pole after work and ran through my routine. It didn’t happen during competition prep, so none of those moves bugged it. I actually had a super solid run through of my piece, which brightened my night a lot. I hadn’t done core yet and really just wanted to curl up on my couch. I talked myself into my usual planks/bridges/leg raises/hip drops and a seven minute NTC workout called Core Strength. It took everything in me to actually do it, but I’m glad I did.
Thursday, 3/31: Easy Run, 8 miles + Pole + Abs/MYRTLs
I stopped with the ibuprofen because my stomach was starting to feel jacked up. But I remembered that I had a box of Flector patches at home, which are really just ibuprofen patches. It’s an NSAID in a patch that you place over the affected area instead of ingesting. I don’t know if it works better than taking it in pill form, but it feels easier on my stomach. I also increased the amount of turmeric supplements I already take to help with the inflammation.
Headed to the trail I walked on last Wednesday, Penn Pump. It was much warmer out than I’d expected and I had all of the wrong clothes. .3 of a mile into my run and my Garmin died. I was wearing my Brooks Launches thinking the more cushioning would be good on my injury but my foot felt worse running than it had since the whole thing happened. Ugh. I grabbed my phone so I could use the Fitbit app to track this horrific run. I didn’t look at the app the whole time and figured I was probably running like 11 minute miles, but Fitbit says I ran 8:06 pace. Whatever – my stomach was HORRIBLE and I had to make a poop stop, my foot hurt everywhere (I think the Launches made me alter my stride since they didn’t feel so good on my toe) and I hated life.
I went to pole and felt exhausted. I think I was just emotionally drained. I talked myself into doing core, MYRTLs, and NTC’s Perfect Alignment workout (probably the easiest on the Nike app) before falling asleep on the couch for the night.
Friday, 4/1: 6 Miles Easy + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness
Pretty much made myself sick to my stomach with the foot thing and knew I had a race looming over my head for the next day. If Charissa wasn’t coming to run it, I would have easily passed on the race and just gone to my usual trail for a tempo run attempt. But since she was coming from out of town, I figured I was already committed to at least going to cheer her on. So, I felt sick and overwhelmed. I took a half sick day from work.
I went home from work early, and took a nap since all I wanted all week was my couch. I woke up and did core/MYRTLs and NTC’s Core Stability and headed to the trail. This run was also around an 8:06 pace and felt a little better than the day before. I was still wearing my Brooks Launch and though they felt better, they didn’t feel great. I headed right to pole class. I felt super exhausted and drained and barely accomplished anything, so going to class was probably pointless.
Charissa and I caught up with each other while carb loading with some pizza and wine. I had been so drained all week that I warned her how lame I would be and wanted to be in bed early, so by 9pm we went to bed. I wanted to try my best to catch up on some sleep. I’d spent most of the week feeling drained and falling asleep on my couch, which is never a great night’s sleep for me.
Saturday, 4/2: Tempo Run (15 miles): Kutztown Fool’s Run (2.5 mile warm up, 10 mile tempo, 2.5 mile cooldown) + Core/MYRTLs
Let’s pause the toe talk for a moment: The spring race schedule in the Lehigh Valley and Hanson’s Marathon Method compliment each other well. This was the second 10 miler in my area and perfect timing for my long tempo runs. Not so perfect for my toe, but the timing of these races couldn’t be more perfect. It was always my intention to “race” the first one of these, but to run the second one on effort and to back off since it was relatively close to Boston. The last 10 miler was far enough away that racing it was fine and allowed enough recovery time, but this was close enough to the race that I needed to take the focus off of trying for a 10 mile PR (let’s not get greedy here, I just did that a few weeks ago!) and back to the task at hand: a marathon PR.
I’d discussed the race last weekend with Megan D., my super speedy friends that I have been running with often in this cycle. She’s already been through all of this. She ran several sub-3 hour marathons. She qualified for the Olympic Trials. I really value her advice. Last weekend, as we did my long run, we talked about pacing for Boston. She said not to “breathe” until mile 20 – as in, running so hard that you are breathing heavy. Breathe before mile 20, and you’ve blown your race. She also advised me against racing Kutztown altogether, but she knew I had the tempo run and thought if I could keep things under control, that I would be okay.
Based on my foot, it was mentally easier to go to this race without the intention of racing it. I’ll do a whole post on the race but here’s what I will tell you: I went with the intention that I might not start. I told myself I would see how I felt on the warm up and decide. Once I decided I was doing it, I didn’t look at my watch and told myself to practice what Megan said about marathon pacing. “Don’t breathe” was my mantra. I’m not going to tell you anymore, but if you follow me on Instagram or FB you know what happened 😉
Post race and post lunch with Charissa, I went home and spent the rest of my day on the couch. I got up to do core/MYRTLs and NTC’s Core Control (can’t stop won’t stop!), go to the grocery store, get sushi, take an Epsom salt bath but then headed right back to the couch. My toe, while still painful, still felt no worse for the wear. It was a little more painful when I was walking around the grocery store later, but that was kind of expected. I did put 15 miles on my feet, and 10 of them were at a more aggressive pace.
Interestingly enough, I wore my Pure Flows for the race and felt almost no toe pain. I’ve decided that until this clears up, my Launches are benched. I love both shoes and actually think the Launch is more comfortable in general, but right now I don’t want to aggravate my toe more.
Sunday: 4/3: Easy Run, 9 Miles + Core/MYRTLs
It was windy. Like 65 mph windy. I stayed in bed all morning. My husband was also feeling lazy, so around noon we headed to church, to Lowes (still renovating our kitchen and have to post pictures soon, it’s fabulous!), Starbucks, and to the running store for a new pair of Pure Flows. I’d resolved to only wear the Pure Flow’s while the toe was healing. As for the toe, it was certainly no better but it also wasn’t worse. Status quo, which was to be expected after the race the day before.
At this point, it was getting late. I either needed to declare a rest day or go run my miles. I was going for anywhere from 6-10 (or less if my foot hurt). It was still windy as hell but I got dressed and headed to Saucon. I did 9 miles because it meant I could end the week on a nice round number. My toe felt decent running. A little sore towards the end of my run, but what did I expect? I averaged around 8:05 pace, I think. My legs felt great, which was encouraging. I did core/MYRTLs and my Barre workout. I could do the exercises where I raised up on my toes, but the lunging stuff hurt and I had to back down a little. It didn’t hurt as much as when I tried doing lunges on Tuesday, so that was a good sign.
I don’t think I’m going to go to the doctor. I honestly don’t think it’s broken and I really don’t think anything is torn. I can bear weight on it. If you tear a tendon or a ligament, you usually lose range of motion. I still have full range of motion, and no discoloration. I do have some swelling. There’s nothing a doctor can do for it, so whether I keep running or not I’m just going to continue treating it with ice and my Flector patches. One thing I notice (and I think this is a good thing) is that when it happened initially, it almost felt like my toe needed to be cracked. Then, it felt kind of “loose” in the hours following, accompanied by a sharp pain. It felt that way through about Wednesday. Now, it just feels sore so the nature of the pain has changed from scary to just sore sore. I hope that means it’s healing.
It seems to get better each day and would probably get better faster if I would stop aggravating it by running, but running itself doesn’t hurt and doesn’t cause me to alter my stride. I’m taking one day at a time and since it’s the taper, my volume will continue to decrease and I hope that will speed up the healing. If it hurts during a workout, I will stop. I’ve done the work. Nothing I do now will make me faster or stronger, but I want to try to stick to the plan if my foot allows me to. I have two hard workouts left, and I’m scheduled to pace a half marathon on Saturday. Here’s to hoping I continue to see improvements and can see this thing through.
Ever have a non running injury that affected your running?
♥ Total ♥ 60 miles ♥