Ramblings from an injured runner + a glimpse of my last marathon training cycle

In my mind I keep rolling it around in my head...

My training last summer for the marathon, the marathon itself and now this injury that is taking its pretty little sweet time to heal. I am still in a huge decision making phase of "Do I or don't I have surgery on my knee?"
More about that later, but first I need want to ramble a bit about my training... 
Will you join me?

This moment feels like a lifetime ago :)

I admit, I didn't have a  huge base going into the marathon training last spring (I had an 18 week marathon cycle from May 7th - the race on Sept. 7th 2014). 
My base was pretty bare bones - a few days a week just getting myself back into running shape and no long runs under my belt.

I was the runner who couldn't run a step during pregnancy and had to take things super easy the entire time. My doctor said: "You have the rest of your life to run...to be in great shape. For now, I need you to rest and grow this baby."
Okay. Done. I didn't have a choice and I didn't want to do anything but grow my baby.

Fast foward to SBG turning one year old in January 2014 and the end of my nursing her. I was running slowly and minimal, but it was something. As I've said before at the beginning of my blog, I was finally hungry and ready to race again. I was ready to go to Boston... I was ready for some goals to be met in my running that had been put on hold during my pregnancies. I ran a half marathon after having kiddo #2, but had not run a marathon since before having my kids (I remember signing up for CIM when my oldest was 8 months old and ended up not doing it because the training didn't come together the way I would have liked and I was scared that I was under prepared). #runnerproblems. :)

As I marinate on my injury,  I am finding peace within and picking strands of happiness along the way (I like pool running! I am working hard on my core!).
But I still wonder - what caused the stress fracture in my knee and can I help other runners avoid what I am going through?

Here are some of my theories of WHY this injury MAY have occurred.

1. I did not build enough of a base before beginning a (tough) marathon training cycle.
What would I have done differently? 
I think it would have been tough for me mentally to accept this, but I would have run without "training" for six-eight months. This would have meant February - August/September 2014 would have been my building block phase. Especially since I was coming back from a pregnancy of zero running, a c-section recovery and a post partum phase of not a lot of weekly mileage.
Also, since I had limited activity and a period of bed rest, I wasn't in the same boat as other pregnant runners. I gained over 50 pounds and suffered from Preeclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure) which lead to an early delivery of SBG (32 weeks) and a huge recovery for me (and for her. She was in the NICU for 2 weeks. She was healthy, just tiny, tiny as she was born at just 3 pounds 9 ounces).
Yes, it would have meant that I wouldn't qualify for Boston in 2015 - but now I can't run it this year anyway, so...

2. I would have had a professional gait analysis done.
There is no way I should have NOT known that I needed a neutral shoe. I was running and training in a stability shoe for goodness sake! My coach said that running in the wrong type of shoe could have contributed to the injury.

3. I would have worked harder on my core.
There are crunches and leg lifts + light weight training (what I did) and then there is serious, consistent core work.
Enough said.

4. Here is an interesting one, that I don't have the concrete answer to: if I had to do it again, would I have picked Hal Higdon's Advanced 2 training program? Would I have chosen the intermediate program instead? Humm - I don't know on this one. In the sense that I probably would have gone with the advanced again. I had a range of time goals that I wanted to accomplish (I wanted to run somewhere between 3:18 and 3:22 which would be a PR - current PR is 3:23 - for me). Maybe those goals were too aggressive and I should have waited until cycle #2 to aim for that. But that is so not my nature. I felt like I could do it and I went for it.

5. I would have started taking calcium and vitamin D supplements earlier. Who knows what pregnanacy and nursing takes away from the body...
I was taking a multi vitamin and an iron supplement only. Calcium would have helped strengthen my bones.

Otherwise, I was happy with my nutrition and sleep. I think for the next marathon training, I will sleep even more and incorporate a nap most days (easier said than done!)

Here is what my training week looked like before I started to taper:

Monday August 11th - 5 miles easy

Tuesday August 12th - Track workout today. 8 x 800 meters. My splits were (and I remember thinking - I feel so good and can't wait to improve upon this!)
3:26, 3:27, 3:23, 3:26, 3:20, 3:22, 3:23. 3:26. 
Average mile pace would be 6:39 - 6:50 
10 miles total for this workout. I was happy with this - I hadn't done track work like this in so long!

Wednesday August 13th - 5 miles easy

Thursday August 14th - Day off. We were traveling to Ohio to visit my Dad. Our flight left at 6 am. I needed to take this day off

Friday August 15th - 1 mile warm up, 5 miles at 7:47 pace and 1 mile cool down

Saturday August 16th - 10 miles at MGP (Marathon goal pace). I was a bit jet lagged during this run, so not as fast as I was hoping, but averaged 7:51 pace for the 10 miles.

Sunday August 17th - 20 miles LSD (Long Slow Distance). Hal's program had back to back longer runs in the advanced program so that you can run with fatigued legs. Today, I was to take it easier for these 20 miles. I ran an average of 8:40 pace.
I remember being so tired after this. I was on a different time zone, needed more sleep and needed that Friday off to rest instead of Thursday, but it couldn't be helped.

Total miles for the week = 57

I felt so happy about the week of training and so proud that I pushed through despite the travel (and pouring rain on the 10 mile run!).
I was ready for the marathon.

I have a lot to work on, a lot of kinks to smooth out - you can read about the race HERE (along with my Garmin splits), and how I was on my goal pace, until mile 18 happened. 
The marathon is such a learning experience. Each time you race you learn more and more. It opens your eyes. It pushes you to depths you never thought imaginable. 

Pushing myself brings me happiness and running is so joyful for me.

Just writing about this brings a smile to my face and I can't wait to hit the road again. I will come back so equipped with more knowledge and always learning more along the way (I'm always studying the art of running...)

Back to the current situation - I am getting a second opinion on the stress fracture. Before I go though with surgery, I really want to make sure I am doing the right thing. Maybe if I give my knee more time to heal on its own (another 2-3 weeks?) it will come together. 
What is happening now is that the blood flow is not getting to the bone (does that sound awkward?) which is why it wasn't healed at the 6 week mark.
Anyway, I have another doctor looking into it. I just need to be sure before I agree to have stem cells taken from my hip bone and drilled into my knee, 6 weeks of crutches and 4 months total to heal. If that is what it ultimately comes down to for me to run again (June!), then of course I'll do it. But if there is another way, I welcome it.

Boston, I am sad not to experience your beauty and history, but I plan to be there next year!! Better, stronger, fitter.
Happiness always wins :)

Whew! I know this was a long ramble and I always want people to take something away from my posts. I hope someone out there can learn from my experience and I am so happy to share it with you.

I thank you for reading, for following along on this journey.

What is the most serious running injury you have ever had and how did you get through it?
Would you have done anything differently?

Happiness Is Running Life!

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