Well, for me this year it has been a very fine line marathon training between doing enough training and doing too much and getting injured.
I suppose the problem is that I don’t take my own advice. My problems started last October when I developed an Achilles problem after the Great South Run. I had bought a pair of trail shoes off the internet (without trying them or making sure they were right for me etc) about a month before. I had opted for a more minimalist style shoe and again, thinking I would be ok, didn’t increase the mileage slowly but just switched to the for all my off road runs…
So, after the Great South Run I should have rested, seen a physio and perhaps stopped running in the new trainers. What I did instead was switch to minimalist road shoes, carry on training and then go for a PB less than a month later in a half marathon. When I write this down it does seem a bit stupid really but I think as runners we do tend to believe we have the “immortality” gene or the “it doesn’t apply to me” gene where common sense and advice is concerned.
I did take a break of a few days after the half and my achilles did start to get a bit better. Then I started marathon training and on the lead up to Christmas my Achilles just gradually got worse….. and I carried on running. I did consult the internet and read lots on Achilles problems, I tried heel drops (about 100 per day) as well as lots of stretches and foam rollering. One website worth a mention that actually seems to have sensible advice is Achilles Tendon.com, I think it was at this point I realised that all this started when I changed my trainers…… So, I switched back to my old pairs (they had been relegated to dog walking duties)… and carried on training.
Early January I went for a run. I couldn’t even manage a mile before it became quite painful and I realised if I carried on running then I could do some more serious damage. At this point I knew I had to take some time off (rather than just a day !)
I had a 10 day break from running and went to the Marathon Store in London (I was working up there for a week) and had the most thorough gait analysis that I have ever had. The outcome of this was quite interesting. Up until now I have been running in support shoes and had knee problems… I was advised to run in neutral shoes. Yes, I do roll in slightly on one foot but no more than is “normal” and the support shoes were most probably the cause of my knee problems.
So, I ended up with a rather bright pink pair of trainers !
After my London trip I carried on with the foam rollering, stretching etc and started running again; taking it very easy on speed and hills and by mid-late January I was able to run without too much pain. Yes, it ached and hurt a bit the next day but I was seeing an improvement; I did follow the advice on the Achilles Tendon website as to the level of injury and what you can do….
I have continued training for the marathon but I have also been listening to my body and taking more rest days to prevent my achilles getting any worse and it has gradually been getting better. If I’m honest if I had stopped running for 6 weeks then it would most probably have been completely clear but I wouldn’t have down anywhere near enough training for the marathon.
On yesterdays 18 mile run I got to about mile 12 and suddenly realised I hadn’t felt anything at all from my achilles 🙂 Yes, it aches slightly this morning but I’ll continue with the foam roller, stretching and listening to my body but I do think it is all going to be ok 🙂