Preparing for “The People’s Marathon”

Note: This was originally published on my old blog on 10/29/12

I picked up running last in my family. Between my siblings and parents who competed in track and field and cross country, I was simply not interested. Late in high school I began jogging for weight loss purposes but didn’t get serious about it until after college.

In the years after college but before worked out what I wanted to do for a career, I started doing this lovely six mile loop by my house in Long Beach. I would start by running through the popular Belmont Shore neighborhood then out through the Peninsula and back. I would pass these incredible beach homes and views of the Pacific Ocean. At the time, I was waiting tables at night and could wake up at a leisurely 9AM for an 11AM run. I never timed myself or determined my speed.

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After moving to DC, I got pulled into “work hard, play harder” spirit of many Washingtonians. Within a year, I had signed up for my first race, a 5K. After that another 5K and a few 10Ks quickly followed. I discovered two things pretty quickly. First, I love races. The sense of communal achievement, the shirt, and the post race food were all fun perks to look forward to. The second thing I discovered was that I had developed a chronic foot injury that was going to take some serious work to fix.

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A year ago this week I had surgery to help alleviate the discomfort from my injury. To make that very long story short, I shattered a small bone in my foot that needed to be removed (anterior sesamoid). In long runs, the ball of my foot would swell and this affected my gait in such a way that I would have debilitating knee pain. Before the surgery, a 10K was my absolute limit. I had always wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon, but this would not have been possible if I hadn’t had my foot fixed.

In preparation for my race, I added a few long runs and obsessed over the gear I would need and how to properly fuel for the race. Anyone who has run or considered running a marathon has heard of “the Wall” and I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent it.

As a group exercise instructor, I get in a fair amount of exercise. My challenge leading up to the race was to include enough race prep outside of my classes without wearing myself down. A typical week would include teaching two classes, a shorter run of 5-7 miles, a long run ranging from 10-15 and a JillFit workout or two depending on my energy levels. I found this to be the most sustainable for me personally.

As I got closer to the race, I started to notice minor swelling in my foot again. It was nowhere near pre-surgery levels, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I ordered compression socks to help with circulation and minimizing swelling as much as possible and began using them for long runs.

Next time I’ll get into fueling and the race itself!

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