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Tim Proctor of Columbus is sharing his training experiences as he prepares for the Sept. 28 Mill Race Marathon in Columbus. Proctor can be reached at email@example.com.
In my time as a runner, I’ve been very lucky to have avoided many of the storied injuries such as “black toenail” and the IT band syndrome.
However, since my last update, I have been dealing with an injury known as a shin splint. This typically covers a multitude of running-related injuries from minor muscle aches all the way to stress fractures in the lower leg. These are all normally associated with a sudden increase in training volume.
I started to get some serious pain on the front of my right leg after finishing my 20-mile-long training run. In particular, when trying to swim, the kicking action really hurt, and wearing heavy shoes made walking painful. Of course I was worried. I had heard stories from other runners of injuries lasting months with no running possible. The impact on any marathon training plan was hard to imagine.
On Sunday, I set out for a short, easy exploratory run. My legs ached a bit from the previous day, and my shin was really sore.
After about a mile, it seemed to warm up a bit and became an ache, not a pain, so I carried on and finished my three-mile loop back home. At the end of the run, I found that if I ran faster, the pain got less, which was interesting.
I reached for the runner’s standard treatment for all issues, ice and ibuprofen, which certainly helped. I also found to my relief that there was no pain when riding a bike so I was able to race on Sunday afternoon in Seymour at a local time trial. This was especially important to me as a fellow bike rider from the club in Seymour had recently been seriously injured while riding in Michigan, and this was the first time we all got together. We raced with “Liz” stickers on our bikes, which was cool.
Over the years, I have had people ask me about their injuries, and I have always given them the advice to listen to your body, don’t push through injury pain because it is likely to make things worse. I discovered that it’s much easier to say this to others than follow your own advice. I took Monday and Tuesday completely off, no running at all, and by Wednesday I was convinced that this lack of activity would mean complete disaster in the marathon. How could I possibly meet my objectives if I took all this time off?
So I took an easy run at lunchtime Wednesday with some friends at work. After some initial discomfort, it felt OK, and foolishly I extended the run further than originally planned. It felt great to be running again. My body was telling me otherwise, however, and Wednesday evening it was sore again, so I repeated icing, and taking some ibuprofen helped.
I took Thursday off and resolved to get some professional opinion on the matter. I made a appointment with Mandy Wyant at Family Chiropractic and Wellness. Mandy is a runner and treats many of the local Columbus runners, but the earliest I could see her was Monday. So I’d have to get through the weekend with only the advice of friends and my own nagging doubts about how badly this was going to impact my marathon performance.
I ran on Friday, raced the bike section of the Tipton Lakes Triathlon for my Quaff ON! team and then ran Sunday. My weekly mileage was down to 23 miles from over 50 the previous two weeks. One of my teammates said, “You can always cope with a down week in training,” but I was still really worried about how I’d cope if I faced another week like this.
On Monday, I saw Mandy and was relieved when she confirmed that it wasn’t a stress fracture but muscle damage and that I could keep running. After some painful manipulation of my hip, leg and shin, I went back to work with much less pain from just normal walking around, so I ran home from work. The first mile or so was really painful to the point I considered turning back, but it subsided to more of an ache and by the end of six miles I was actually feeling pretty good. More ice and ibuprofen.
I saw Mandy two more times during the week, and the swelling has reduced, the manipulation of the muscles has gotten less painful, and I’ve managed to increase the running again, completing 49 miles this week, including a
16.5-mile long run.
I am thankful that this injury has so far been manageable. I have a friend who’s suffering from a very similar problem but has not been able to resume running and is having to seriously adjust training and goals for the marathon. It seems like I’ve had luck on my side, and I just hope I can continue to steer around obstacles like this right up to the race.
One of the most exciting things which has taken my mind off my sore leg has been Angus’ build-up and participation in his first youth triathlon. Jen Shavers at FFY has put on two great youth triathlons in Columbus this year.
In June, Angus and I volunteered as marshals on the course to keep the participants safe. He was motivated to actually do a race, and the second event was Aug. 17. Being 7, Angus raced the shortest distance, two lengths of Donner pool, a 2-mile bike ride around Donner Park and a half-mile run in the park. It was great to see him motivated and excited about the race.
When he came back to the transition area after the bike ride, he gave us the biggest smile and immediately set off on his run. It was so great to see so many kids — 50 in total — getting active and enjoying the challenge of triathlon racing. Pumped up from this experience, we now have one more youth triathlon on the calendar this year, in Fishers, a couple of weeks before the Mill Race Marathon.
I’m really enjoying mixing my training with his. I’ve run along while he bikes, we’ve run and biked together and had some good times at the pool, although I think he’ll be a better swimmer than me very quickly.
One of the things that I enjoy most about training outside is the enhanced awareness of nature around me. On my early-morning runs, the progression to the shorter days of fall is already clear. In the early mornings I always run with a red flashing light to help drivers see me, but the difference in my ability to see where I am going is really noticeable.
It’s past 6 a.m. now before I can run without a headlight, when only a couple of weeks ago, a run starting at 5:45 a.m. needed no light at all. The fireflies have now all but gone, and the young deer are growing quickly. We are too easily anesthetized within cars from the temperature of the air, the quality of the light and the signs of nature as the seasons turn. Getting outside and feeling it happen, day by day, is one of the greatest privileges of being an athlete in training.
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