Marathon Training Ebbs and Flows

Marathon training has a rhythm to it. Some days you wonder how 42.2km will even be possible. Other days it feels so easy. Injuries flare up and you can’t run for a bit and you start to wonder if all that work will be for nothing. Then you run in spite of an injury and it clears itself up just like that.

Having been down the training road many times now, I know from experience that you need to stay positive during the ebbs and not get too overconfident in the flows.

Sunday was one of those days that marked the transition from ebb to flow. A low tide, as it were.

For about a week, I’d been nursing some foot pain, along with some mild/moderate tendonitis in my right knee. The foot pain was thanks to a bad shoe rub from last weekend’s 33km run that really irritated the top of my pinky toe knuckle.

The knee pain was something I’ve dealt with before, and was likely caused by a combination of a lot of downhill running at the Toronto Marathon, and maybe thanks to some gait changes due to that foot thing.

A little rest and some new shoes

I took a few days off running earlier in the week, mostly to let the toe thing get a little less irritated. I tried running on Tuesday evening, but it felt like I would be making things even worse, so I skipped that run, and the next two runs as well. That was a downer, but I was able to mostly stay positive while resting, icing and stretching.

New kicks. In a 2E width.

On Saturday I laced up the shoes again and ran a fast 6km. Things were okay…the foot was a bit tender, but it was manageable and I didn’t feel like I was setting myself back. The knee never warmed up and was sore from start to finish. It felt like I was still in a bit of a hole, and time was ticking away…three weeks…three weeks.

I went out to the New Balance store and bought a new pair of shoes in the afternoon to get something with a wider forefoot. This was my first foray into moving up from the usual D width into the 2E width. It came with the revelation that there is such a thing as size 12.5. After years of shopping at the Running Room, I had come to believe that there was no such thing as they don’t stock half sizes in the upper reaches of the men’s sizing range.

At the New Balance Store, however, there are size 12.5 shoes. That meant I could go for a wider shoe (which I need), and not go for a longer shoe (which I don’t need). In the end, a size 12.5, 2E width of the New Balance 860v6 was just right.

That felt like a bit of a turning point. After months of shoe struggles and not being happy with anything I put my feet into, this seemed right. A new start.

Back at it

I broke all the rules Sunday morning and planned out a 20km route, laced up my brand new shoes and went for a run along the Martin Goodman Trail. My buddy Miguel joined me for the fun. It took about 5km to get into a groove and the knee and foot were…just okay.

But by 8km things were suddenly fine and I knew everything was going to be good for the race in three weeks. The knee warmed up and didn’t factor in to the run. The foot rub was a non-issue thanks to that wider shoe that’s the proper size. The sun was shining and the lake was beautiful. It was a great day to run.

I ended up tacking a few kilometres on at the end to get over 22km for the morning. I easily could have gone to 29km or more without issue and that gave me a great confidence boost after a pretty frustrating week of not running and trying to heal. I could feel the tide had turned.

More lessons learned

The takeaway, as always, is to trust the training and listen to your gut and body. Most importantly, I was reminded to go with the flow. My tendonitis is a ton better post-run, although I’ll keep icing, stretching and treating it with Voltaren. And a new pair of better fitting shoes was the prescription for an irritated foot.

The race is three weeks away now, and I’m feeling a ton better about where I stand. A little more injury management, some rest, and some smart training over the next 20 days will get me to race morning ready to go for a new PB on the streets of Ottawa.