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Posts Tagged ‘running injury’

It’s the last week of taper here and I got in a nice four mile run on Monday morning — two easy and two at marathon pace. And it was a good thing I wore my new Garmin 220 to pace myself because I realized that when I originally set the data screens, I chose “average pace” (average pace for the entire four miles) instead of “average lap pace” (average pace for the mile you are currently running). For marathons I like to keep an eye on my average lap pace, and that will be particularly important for this downhill marathon, REVEL Canyon City, because I expect the pace to be faster in the first half than the second. In fact I used the pace band feature at FindMyMarathon.com to create a free pace band that is specific to the REVEL Canyon City course. Other marathons I’ve generally tried to run an even pace, but that doesn’t make sense for this course. It’s nice to see what the predicted adjustments to pace are for the hills — both up and down — for this specific marathon.

Yesterday I did an easy three-miler that nearly undid six months of marathon training when I got distracted and rolled my ankle on this sucker:

Marathon killer: the magnolia seed pod of doom, next to my Brooks Adrenaline for size comparison

Marathon killer: the magnolia seed pod of doom, next to my Brooks Adrenaline for size comparison

In the instant my left foot rolled on the pod, pain shot up my left ankle and the marathon flashed before my eyes. My run came to a screeching halt. I quickly took a tentative step and tried to walk off the injury. By some miracle it felt a million times better after a minute of walking and I was able to finish the run. Throughout the rest of the day it stiffened up and became sore, but I iced it before bed and this morning it’s almost back to normal. Every taper has its aches and pains and this one is no exception. Now I just need to do one more easy three miler (including three strides and not including magnolia seed pods of doom) on Thursday and I’ll be ready for the race on Saturday.

While I ran on Monday I listened to an inspiring Runners Connect podcast interview with Olympic medalist Deena Kastor. Usually before a marathon I watch the movie Spirit of the Marathon again to see Deena race at the Chicago Marathon, but this time it was nice to listen to her advice for getting ready for a big race. She suggested that a runner list five reasons why the upcoming race should be successful. That helps calm your nerves and gives you things to draw upon during the race if and when your confidence falters.

So, here are five reasons my sixth marathon could/should/will go well:

1. With my switch to a traditional training plan that had me running five days a week, I managed to hit my highest mileage week ever (40.5 miles) and highest mileage month ever (156.3 miles in October). Not exactly numbers to write home about but pretty darn good for a 44-year-old mother of three.

2. I had that successful and joyful practice 20-miler on the course in the San Gabriel mountains.

3. I looked back over my training log (I keep one on my paper training plan and one on MapMyRun) and reminded myself that I kept consistent with the training. I didn’t miss a single run. Several times when the plan called for cross-training or rest, I rested, but I did every prescribed run. One 16-miler I cut short at 10.6 miles because I felt dehydrated and under-fueled and it was more important to set my ego aside and call it a day than continue and risk injury just to hit that 16 mile number. Sure enough I went on to have several confidence-boosting long runs after learning from my mistakes on that one “bad” run.

4. I made sure to keep up with the strength training at least twice a week. If you asked me the one thing I would recommend to other runners to improve their marathon performance, it would be to add strength training if it’s not already a part of their regimen. As little as 20 minutes twice a week can pay off tremendously in better running form and ability to hold pace in the final miles of a race when your primary running muscles are tired.

5. I nailed down my carbohydrate loading plan and race day plan. It’s not easy to consume over 600 grams of carbohydrates a day but I’m doing my best. I didn’t mind the whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast this morning!

So, if you want to see if my ankle cooperates for the race, if my training plays off, if the carbo-loading prevents me from hitting the wall, you can track me on race day (Saturday November 7 starting at 7 a.m. PST) through my participant tracking link. The tracking registers my time at the half marathon point, 5K to go (mile 23.1), and the finish. I expect the first half to be significantly faster than the second given the 4,000+ foot elevation drop in the first half, so don’t be surprised if it takes me a while to pop back up at the 23.1 mark. Cross your fingers for a sub-3:55 (BQ) and better yet a sub-3:36:58 (PR)!

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It’s been six weeks since my first marathon and during that time I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I loved the marathon experience and I remain glad that I did it. However, the physical and emotional letdown afterward took me by surprise. I knew to expect a little post-marathon depression. Lots of people experience that and it seems pretty normal to me. You’ve focused so intensely on a goal for four to six months, and looked forward to race day for so long, that when it comes and goes you are left at a bit of a loss, asking yourself, “Now what?” Usually those post-race blues are cured by signing up for another race. Yet I did that — I signed up for an 8K and another marathon — and it didn’t work for me.

What’s my problem then? Nagging injuries. The first was posterior shin splints in my left leg. As I recovered from the marathon, the pain in my inner lower leg increased to the point where I worried that I had a stress fracture. You might laugh at how I managed to resolve that question. When my anxiety about a stress fracture reached a peak and I was thisclose to calling a sports medicine orthopedist, I kept feeling around on my tibia to see if I could isolate a point of pain in either the bone or the attached calf muscle. In doing so, I massaged away the worst of the pain and I noticed some improvement. With that discovery, I started doing ice massage on the calf with a frozen water bottle, in addition to doing the calf stretches that helped me recover from plantar fasciitis. I think tight calves contributed to both the plantar fasciitis and the shin splints and I simply need to be dedicated to stretching my calves throughout the day and not just after running.

It’s also possible that the shin splints developed when my gait inadvertently changed to compensate for nagging injury #2. I’m not sure what to call that one. It’s a groin strain injury, located in the hard-to-describe area of the inner back thigh, running from the right buttock crease laterally toward the groin. As best as I can tell, it’s the adductor magnus muscle, and more specifically the “hamstring portion” of the adductor magnus muscle. It’s the muscle used to “adduct” the thigh — move it inward toward the other thigh. I feel it most when I try to balance on the affected leg (for example, when I balance on my right leg to pull on my left pants leg). This injury slows my running pace and, at its worst, affects my gait.

I have used the post-marathon period to cut back on running to see if it would let that muscle rest and heal. However, I found that resting the muscle caused it to tighten up and that increased the pain. There’s a balance in there somewhere — running just enough to stimulate blood flow to that muscle and keep it loosened up while not running so much that it aggravates the strain. Now I have a three-pronged plan in place to heal from the adductor magnus strain:

1. Run moderate amounts at a steady pace.
2. Strengthen the other groin, thigh, gluteal and abdominal muscles to support the adductor magnus.
3. Massage the adductor magnus muscle. This article (which is trying to sell a pain relief patch I know nothing about, but I appreciate its explanation of the groin muscles and trigger points) describes how:

The rear trigger point which causes pain inside the pelvis is found near the inside of the crease at the bottom of the buttock. This is best found and massaged with the help of a sensitive partner, a Thera Cane, or a ball. If using a ball, a lacrosse ball usually works best, but a tennis ball is okay. … In practice, you will put the ball under the crease of the buttock while this leg is resting up on a hard chair or table. … Rather than keeping the leg you’re working on straight … you may find it more comfortable to half-sit on the table on the buttock that you’re working on, while standing on the other leg. If you find any significantly tender points, particularly if they reproduce or alleviate the pain you have been experiencing, do some gentle massage.

Have you ever experienced post-race blues? Are you currently dealing with any injuries? Ever strained your adductor magnus? Help me!

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The signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis (plan-tur fashee-EYE-tiss) started out mild for me. About 10 weeks into marathon training, my feet started feeling sore after a run. I could run and walk fine, but a couple of hours after a workout they would feel sore in the arches. With rest they’d improve, but it would come back again after a run. Over a few days, the soreness progressed to a mild burning sensation that got worse the longer I stayed on my feet. Eventually after a week or so, I felt the heel pain most commonly associated with plantar fasciitis (PF). Upon waking in the morning, the inner corner of my heel, just below the ankle, felt sore when I walked. It looked like my chances of running the marathon in another 10 weeks were doomed. Continuing to run through PF can cause the plantar fascia to rupture painfully, requiring the wearing of a boot cast for up to six weeks and in some extreme cases, surgery. The good news is I was able to develop a successful treatment plan and after a couple weeks of cross-training, I was able to get back to running and go on to complete my first marathon in 4:02:39 without any PF pain during or after the race.

Please note that I am not a medical professional. I simply share my experience in the hope that it can help another person bounce back from PF. The other thing I want to make clear is that PF is a tricky injury to treat and it can take some experimentation to figure out what works. What worked for me might not work for you. You need to figure out both what the cause of your PF was (more on that in a minute) and which treatments help you.

For immediate pain relief:

1. Ice. Use an ice pack (frozen peas or corn works well because the packet molds to the foot) with a thin towel to protect the skin, and ice the foot for 15 minutes at a time a few times a day as needed. Just be careful and make sure to warm up the foot again and then do a gentle stretch of the foot (grabbing the toes and gently drawing them back toward you) before walking again. You can also freeze a plastic water bottle in the freezer (leaving room at the top for the ice to expand) and roll your foot on the frozen bottle. That does the double duty of icing and massaging at the same time.

2. Anti-inflammatory medications. There is debate about whether PF involves any inflammation at all (the pain stems from micro-tears in the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes) but there’s no doubt that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen help relieve the pain of PF. Personally I don’t think drugs like Advil treat the PF, they just mask the pain. That’s fine if you’re in a lot of pain but I quickly decided the meds were not necessary.

For further injury prevention:

3. Determine what caused your PF and take steps to mitigate further damage. For some people the key to what caused their PF is clear. It can come on from being overweight or from repetitive strain due to running or other athletic pursuits. Think about what recently changed for you. Have you added something new to your workouts? (For me the culprit was tight calves from running and the introduction of training on the indoor spinning bike. Standing up on the pedals repeatedly stretched and strained the ligament that runs under the foot.) Has it been too long since you bought new athletic shoes?

4. Switch to cross-training. If you want to stay active to lose weight or continue a running training plan without actually running, consider cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, and aqua-jogging. I found that while spinning on an indoor bike aggravated my feet, I could cycle on my road bike without problems.

To treat the PF:

5. Do stretches for the feet and calves. Before you get out of bed in the morning (and a few other times throughout the day), do a toe stretch by gently pulling back on your toes. Perform a towel stretch by looping a bath towel under the ball of your foot and gently pulling the towel ends back toward you. For the ball stretch, roll a tennis or golf ball under your foot for up to half an hour a day (I know that sounds like a lot but it’s what’s billed as a “magic cure” for PF in Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running: How to Fix Injuries, Stay Active, and Run Pain-Free). Most important for the treatment of PF and prevention of it in the first place (in my opinion), are calf stretches. I don’t mean just stretching your calves after you run. This is so important I’m going to say it in bold: You need to do calf stretches several times a day throughout the day. First do the gastroc stretch, which involves leaning into a wall with your arms outstretched and the affected leg straight back behind you with the heel on the floor (the Running Doc says to turn the foot slightly outward). Lean in and feel the stretch in the upper calf. Do that for 20 seconds, then slightly bend the knee of the affected leg to perform the soleus stretch to stretch the lower calf for another 20 seconds. Alternate those stretches several times. One more note on stretches. I saw lots of recommendations for Achilles tendon stretches (standing on the edge of a stair step and lowering the heels, then raising the heels, and repeating). That absolutely aggravated the PF for me. Here’s a video I found on YouTube that demonstrates three appropriate stretches and then explains why that Achilles tendon stretch is inappropriate (he calls it the Negative Heel Stretch):

Gear that helps:

6. Wear a Strassburg sock or other device. The idea behind the Strassburg Sock is that you wear this sock at night while you sleep to stretch the plantar fascia.

Normally while you sleep the plantar fascia contracts and then when you wake up and stand up, the tight plantar fascia lengthens suddenly and that causes pain. I found that wearing the sock prevents that problem, and I do recommend purchasing the sock. It provided immediate relief of the sharp heel pain I had felt in the mornings. For a less expensive option, follow these directions to make your own no-sew plantar fasciitis sock.

7. Use KT Tape Pro. Without a doubt the one thing that allowed me to keep running as I recovered from PF is KT Tape Pro. Please make sure that you buy KT TAPE PRO rather than the older cotton version which does not stay on as long. If I followed the directions to apply the KT Tape Pro properly, it would stay on for 5 or more days (or until I soaked in a bath or went swimming. It stays on during short showers but I found it could not stand a long soak). The pre-cut kinesiology tape strips are expensive and you want to make them last. Many people apply two strips for the PF application (as directed on the package insert) but I went with three as demonstrated in the KT Tape website:

8. Consider orthotic insoles. Many people swear by insoles such as Superfeet Green Premium Insoles or professional orthotics from a podiatrist. Others argue that such insoles are a crutch that does not really fix the problem in the long term. (Personally I think it’s important for a runner like me to be able to get back into running ASAP and then work on the stretches and strengthening exercises and only then consider running in a more minimalist shoe or even barefoot). Because I had success with the Strassburg Sock and the KT Tape Pro, I never bought insoles so I cannot speak to this one way or the other. (Anyone care to comment?)

Another healing and preventative tip:

9. Do strengthening exercises for the plantar fascia ligament. Once you have reduced the pain of PF you can begin doing strengthening exercises. These include drawing the alphabet on the floor with your toes, picking up marbles with your toes, and scrunching up the end of a towel (pulling in the length of the towel toward you with your toes).

I wish you all the best in healing from plantar fasciitis!

What has your experience with plantar fasciitis been? Do you have any tips for recovering from plantar fasciitis?

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As I navigate the treacherous waters of plantar fasciitis, I try different remedies to see what helps and doesn’t help. It seems to me that plantar fasciitis is a slippery little sucker, and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Strassburg sock? Helps. Icing? Helps with pain relief but does not seem to help overall recovery (seems to me that ice tightens up the foot and is counterproductive to all the stretching if you try to walk on it again without warming up and then stretching a little more). Stretching? Helps, especially before I get out of bed in the morning, but if I get too aggressive with the stretching, doing the one everyone seems to recommend (standing on the edge of the stairs and lowering one or both heels), it sets me back. Foam roller for my calves? Helps. Rolling my foot on a tennis ball? Helps. Doing exercises like tracing the alphabet with my toes, or picking up marbles or other small objects? Helps my foot but nearly kills my will to recover. I can barely stand to do those exercises. They’re not painful, they’re just extremely boring and tiring. It’s a little like Kegels (you know what I mean ladies).

KT Tape Pro is the latest remedy I’ve tried. I put it on Tuesday morning and have been wearing it for three full days.

KT Tape

My right foot as KT Tape art sculpture

In that time I did two runs, a speed workout and a tempo run. I must have been delusional, hoping the KT Tape would be a miraculous cure-all. In retrospect the speed workout was a bad idea. The tempo run was fine — a mile easy and five miles at marathon pace. (Side note: when I told my husband about my tempo run at marathon pace, he thought I said, “marathon face.” He thought I was going a little overboard with the marathon obsession if I felt the need to perfect a marathon face. I’m not sure what that would even look like – smiling, grimacing?!) At this point the jury is still out on KT Tape. Let’s see how I feel after the big 18-miler on Saturday.

In the meantime, I continue to distract myself with thoughts of what I should wear for the marathon WHEN I RUN IT. Might as well think positively. For today’s run, I gave in to all the commenters who said it’s no big deal to wear a prior race shirt to run a different race, especially since no one but you cares what you’re wearing. I tried out my beloved OC Half Marathon tee, which is very nearly the perfect technical shirt.

Fitted but not too clingy, light colored, flattering design

I concluded it would be perfect if it just had a v-neck instead of a scoop neck. Ever since my thyroid pooped out on me (Graves’ Disease, burn out, hypothyroidism, long story I’ll tell you sometime), I cannot stand to have anything touch my throat. If you ever see me in a turtleneck, run for the hills because my body will be possessed by alien forces. In fact, be on your best behavior and put on your own turtleneck just in case because hell will surely be freezing over.

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In retrospect, it appears that several things contributed to my development of plantar fasciitis, the pain in my . . . feet. 😉 In my marathon training, I made the mistake(s) of adding on too much speed work and hill work at the same time I built up the running mileage. With my new gym membership, I started running more often on the treadmill rather than running on the softer surfaces at the track or on trails. I also made errors of omission. I should have strengthened and stretched my plantar fasciae and calves. Any of those things alone could have done my feet in, but I think there’s one more new thing I introduced that really is the main culprit:

(That’s an Amazon affiliate image, just so I could show you The Culprit. It’s cheaper to buy a spin bike direct through spinning.com, although feel free to buy through my link because the commission would be more than I would normally make in a year from Amazon Associates. 🙂 But I digress.)

Yes, it’s my beloved Star Trac NXT Spin Bike that I ride in my favorite Cycle Sculpt class at the gym. Because my road bike shoes do not fit the cleats on the indoor spin bike, and I do not (yet) have the right indoor spinning bike shoes, I have been wearing my regular running shoes in the pedal toe clips. That means that when I add resistance and stand up on the bike, all my weight rests on the balls of my feet and strains the plantar fasciae. (This is my non-medical, my-own-experience your-mileage-may-vary opinion of what’s happening). How do I know this? My feet were feeling surprisingly great a few days after racing in the triathlon a week ago. I got back on the spin bike for a 40-minute workout and I ended up with a major flare-up of the plantar fasciitis. The spin bike hadn’t bothered me when I remained seated for an entire Cycle Sculpt class, and my hour-plus outdoor bike ride for the triathlon didn’t bother me, but just 40-minutes and a few intervals of standing up on the spinning bike strained my feet. I’m not saying it’s the sole culprit, but it’s definitely a big contributor. I’m not going to give up spinning, but I will certainly stay seated on the bike until I can buy some proper indoor cycling shoes.

The good news in all this is that I do not think running is doing as much damage to my feet as I thought. I got out yesterday for a 12-mile run (if you could call it that — I’d be more inclined to call it a slogging 2 hour 15 minute jog). While my feet weren’t exactly thanking me, they feel pretty good today. Better than my aching thighs and hips! Clearly I’ve lost some fitness in the last few weeks of dealing with the plantar fasciitis, but I’m determined to get back on track, so to speak.

I leave you with a little unrelated laugh, compliments of my bill-paying efforts this morning. When I paid my garbage hauler (trash) bill, I noticed this awesome promise on the bottom of the bill:

IF NOT SATISFIED WITH OUR SERVICE,

WE GUARANTEE “DOUBLE YOUR TRASH BACK”

What are your thoughts on my theories as to what has contributed to the plantar fasciitis? If you’ve dealt with PF, what do you think caused it? Do you have a recommendation for good indoor cycling shoes?

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The Nautica Malibu international distance triathlon is less than 48 hours away. That means I have a big question to answer: to race or not to race? I have wrestled with this question over the last week. I am finding it helps to break it down into smaller questions.

Can I physically do the race? Absolutely. I’ve trained hard for this race, even if it wasn’t my goal race (the marathon was/is/who knows gah I hate stupid plantar fasciitis). My last triathlon was nine-plus months ago, which makes it feel like I’ve been training for this race FOREVER. I could have grown and popped out a baby in that time. Instead I’ve been gestating a triathlon baby. I’m serious about that — bear with me when I equate training for a race to experiencing pregnancy and birth. You’re all excited in the beginning, then you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into, then you buckle down and do the hard work of growing that baby, then it becomes all you can think about and all you want to talk about. You get more and more excited as the big day approaches. You do everything you can do to prepare, but not everything is under your control. Part of your nervousness stems from the fact that you’ve invested so much of yourself physically and emotionally over the course of several months, and you just want everything to go well. All you can do is show up ready to roll with what fate brings you on the day, the day you give birth to that much-wanted figurative-triathlon-baby. (Fine, it’s not a perfect analogy.)

The more important question is: Should I do the race? My feet still do have pain from the plantar fasciitis. I don’t feel pain when I run, so it’s not like the race itself would be torture for me. It’s the fallout I’m worried about. There’s a possibility I could tear the plantar fascia in spite of all the stretching I’ve been doing. There’s the likelihood that my feet will become more sore in the days after the race and it might set back my recovery from the injury.

Which brings me to the question: Will running this race prevent me from running the marathon, my goal race? The answer is a big fat I DON’T KNOW. It’s not clear to me that even if I didn’t do the triathlon, I would recover in time to train for and run the marathon. The marathon is eight weeks away. As optimistic as I was when I did that 2-hour aqua running session, the reality is that I will miss some of my big training runs. Over the next five weeks I’m supposed to do five long runs of 16, 12, 18, 13 and 20 miles, respectively. Exactly how many of those could I “run” in the pool? And could I really transition from the pool right back out onto solid ground for a marathon training plan? It doesn’t seem likely to me. And even if I could train and get back to actual running, would I be able to meet my marathon goals? I do have quite specific goals. My goal was never just to complete the distance (while that might be someone else’s perfectly valid and worthwhile goal, it’s not mine). I certainly don’t want to run a marathon while injured, simply to say I’ve done a marathon. There will be other races (just not this one that I carefully researched and lovingly hand-picked because it’s smaller than big city races *SOB* and it is in a beautiful setting *SOB* and we booked a gorgeous hotel in Santa Barbara because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing *SOB SOB*).

Given that I don’t know whether the triathlon would be the thing keeping me from running the marathon, I find myself asking: If I didn’t have the marathon on my race calendar, would I go ahead with the triathlon? The answer is a resounding heck yeah. I feel well enough to do it, I want to do it, and I think the risk of further injury is low enough that I can do it. Then there’s the final nagging question: Would my answers to all these questions be any different if I weren’t doing this all in a public blog forum for everyone (my growing handful of readers LOL) to see? I don’t think so. If anything I’m slightly worried that I’ll do the triathlon, get more injured or stay injured and not recover, and the blogosphere will hit me with a big I TOLD YOU SO. It couldn’t be anything worse than I will be telling myself, though.

Well, wish me luck, tell me I’m crazy, hope that the crazy pays off for me. Hmm, that’s one final question. What’s the payoff? Who cares if I skip this race? (Yes, yes, that’s two questions). I care. If I don’t get to do the marathon (right now) then I want to do this race. I don’t want to have to give up everything to plantar fasciitis. I want to go see this year’s version of this:

sand sculpture

Nautica Malibu Triathlon sand sculpture. Photo by Denise Cross.

Those are my answers today. I can’t tell you I’ll stick to them. We’ll see what happens on race day.

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Before I talk about aqua jogging, I need to tell a seemingly unrelated story. Back in October 2011 I had just completed my first triathlon, the SheROX San Diego sprint tri. I loved it and immediately signed up for an Olympic distance race the following December. I dove right into training, and stuck to my new training schedule even when we went camping with some friends. What better setting for a long bike ride than Joshua Tree National Park?

Joshua Tree National Park

Gorgeous view of Joshua Tree National Park to distract me on my long bike ride. Photo by Vicente Villamon.

As I was driving back to camp after the ride, I passed lots of roads that were named after desert features — Outpost Road, Sunnyhill Road, Juniper Road. That’s when I began to get nervous about the Olympic distance tri. My mind started racing. I thought about how my friends would be able to see the SheROX race numbers on my calf and arms because the permanent marker still hadn’t worn off. Then I thought about how I had looked at the professional pictures of me at the race and I wondered how the photographers had seen my number on my triceps from the swim — I guess they saw it when I peeled off half my wetsuit as I exited the water. Then I remembered how I looked blue when I exited the water from the swim, and then I worried about swimming a whole mile in the Olympic distance race in December. I thought maybe I shouldn’t have signed up to do it! That’s when I passed another road sign. It read: “Olympic Dr.” I’m not kidding. All these desert names, and at that exact moment I pass Olympic Drive?! It’s not so much that I believe in signs sent from God, but I do believe we’re open to seeing certain things at certain times, and I needed to see that certain sign at that certain time.

Anyway, all that to tell you that I saw more signs on my recent aqua jog. I had been getting awfully discouraged with the plantar fasciitis. A week of rest didn’t help. I tentatively tried out a slow run at the track, and I felt no better, no worse, until two days later when my feet became even more sore. I started wondering if I’d have to give up on running the marathon nine weeks from now. That’s when I remembered my half marathon coach Stephanie’s story about how she recovered from a tear in her plantar fascia (ouch with a capital OUCH!) by jogging in the pool. My marathon training plan called for a 15-mile run. Could I do it in the pool? I watched a few videos on YouTube to study the proper form for aqua running. My favorite tutorial was this one:

After my studies, I eagerly told my husband my plan and headed out to the outdoor pool, the one that plays music that could entertain me for a 2-hour aqua jog. At the pool, a fitness class was just starting and many of the women were using flotation belts, the kind I needed for the aqua jog. The bin was empty, but I spotted one last belt hanging next to the pool. I asked around to make sure no one was using it, and sure enough, I had snagged the absolute last flotation belt. Sign #1?

I hopped right in the pool and got going. I couldn’t tell if I was replicating the proper form from the video, and I started to question the sanity of pumping my little legs away, running to nowhere in the pool. That’s when Foster the People sent me my second sign in the form of “Pumped Up Kicks,” one of my favorite tunes from my running playlist (compliments of Coach Stephanie). That song also happens to be a favorite of my spinning class teacher, and I knew I could run to the beat of the song, just as I set the bike cadence to the beat in spin class.

In the second hour of my two-hour “run,” the Bart Crow Band sent me another sign in the form of “Run with the Devil.” Yes, “I may run with the devil….” If only the band had said I run like the devil.

Finally, as I floundered during the last 20 minutes of my “run,” it was like Journey was serenading me, imploring me not to give up on the marathon dream. “Don’t stop believin’ [Angela, you can do it, you can train for a marathon in the swimming pool and on the bike].” Catchy little tune, don’t you think?

Do you believe in signs?

Have you ever trained for a running race by training on a bike or in the pool? How did that pan out for you? Do you aqua jog for injury prevention and/or for recovery from an injury?

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