Probably the worse run of my life was the 2003 Boston Marathon. I had never run a marathon and was woefully under trained. I had jumped at an opportunity without much thought and had no concept of what I was about to do.
The two things I had going for me were youth (38 years-old) and lack of in juries. I guess I could count a priori enthusiasm as a plus also. How many things would you have never done if you knew what you were really getting yourself into?
Marathon Training Begins
Jump ahead 13 years and I should know what I’m doing. I’ve run Boston six times and 15 marathons all together. I’ve solved many running issues and my finish times have come down a lot since that first Boston Marathon.
This Sunday I officially began my Boston Marathon training. It was the Melrose Running Club’s Sunday Long Run; a comfortable 14.3 mile tour of Melrose, Stoneham, Medford and Malden.
I made so many mistakes and had so many issues it was one of the worse long runs I’ve ever had.
Things I can fix
When I found out I had a number for the marathon I did a weigh in just to see where I was at. Well, I was at 188.6 lbs! I haven’t seen that number for years and it was shocking. Since I have a limited time to train I decided dropping down to 180 would be a good idea.
I’ve been really good at work eating fruit for breakfast and skipping bagels and other carbs often found around an office. By the end of the week I’d knocked off about 2 lbs.
Saturday night for dinner I had some chicken, a 1/2 cup of rice and 2+ cups of veggies. Veggies have carbs and I had some rice so I thought I was good.
Unfortunately I was wrong. I ran out of juice pretty quick on the long run. Through mile six I managed to stay under 9 minute miles. Mile seven came in at 9:40 and things slowly went down-hill from there.
Lesson – Eat lots of carbs the night before a long run. I ran off 2,019 calories. I think I can afford a cup or two of rice.
This is a totally solvable problem. I know better.
Most of my issues are mechanical. My left knee has been acting up sporadically for the past year. While running short track it didn’t really bother me. Foolishly I have not had my PT look at this. I’m pretty sure it’s an over use issue. Sometimes I can feel a tendon slip over a muscle when I bend my leg. At least it’s not runner’s knee or torn cartilage.
Downhill pounding really aggravates the hell out of it. Uphill is still my strong suit.
My back has been another sporadic issue. I think all of us get sore backs eventually. Things wear out and we do stupid things when we are young and invincible. I’ve carried double-hung wood frame windows up a ladder and I’ve hung sheet rock on the ceiling, by my self.
An adjustment to my work chair about two months ago aggravated my back and the pain lingers. I got rid of the adjustment and tried some yoga, but I’m not sure if yoga helped.
I’ve often said that my back will take me out of running before anything else. Well, this unfortunate experiment may have accelerated that retirement.
Then there is my shoulder. As a modest goal I decided to do 15 daily push-ups. I’ve been doing shoulder and chest work for the past year. It seemed like a reasonable addition that I could do anywhere.
I go through cycles with my shoulders. I’ll start bench pressing, make some progress and eventually get hurt. My threshold seems to be 45 lb dumbbells, so that’s where I topped out this time.
This had been working well until one evening I tweaked my right shoulder doing push-ups. That was about five weeks ago.
I ran the Super Sunday 5 Miler a few days after my injury and had shooting pain right away. It was so bad I considered dropping out of the race. Being a problem solver I gripped my right hand to my left shoulder to stretch the right shoulder and relieve some of the bouncing.
This worked well enough that I was able to run 7:55 miles.
These are issues that I cannot easily solve. Time and rest usually work for me. But I have eight weeks until the big race.
What I did right
I started breaking a new pair of Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost shoes. Two months out is the time to do this. I wore the socks I am likely to wear on Marathon Monday also. My toes had plenty of room and my heels did not slip. I did feel some heat in my arches, so that could be an issue.
Running shoes can cause all kinds of problems, so getting them right is crucial. If things don’t settle down in the next few weeks, I’ll get a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes. I’m also hoping new shoes will help with my knee and back.
I dressed correctly. Last week it was -32° F at times. This week it was about 42° F when the wind was blowing. Marathon Monday will probably start in the 40s and may get warmer or colder. It’s gone both ways. I ran in 2012 when it was almost 90° F.
Today I was only cold when the wind blew and I never felt over-heated. Core body temperature control is key to successful running. You don’t want to accelerate the loss of electrolytes.
I discovered that my new Under Armour shirt is too tight. Their web site sized me into a medium. As an under layer it works fine. Nice and tight and no chaffing. Sunday I wore it with a tech t-shirt like I probably will during the marathon.
My old Under Armour shirt is a large. It’s still tight, but I can push up the sleeves. My new shirt is basically body paint and isn’t going anywhere.
During a marathon the temperature can swing wildly. A cold morning can turn into many sun drenched miles. The ability to roll up my sleeves and prevent over-heating is very important. So I’ll be wearing my old Under Armour shirt on Marathon Monday.
Hydration and fuel
While I screwed up my dinner, I did the right thing on the run. I got plenty of fluids at our water stops and took two gels. During a half marathon I typically take two gels. One of the gels may have been old and didn’t settle well with my stomach.
I actually had cramps, and I can eat anything. For Boston, they hand out gels after the Rt. 95 overpass. These will be fresh and common, popular flavors like vanilla or chocolate. I’ll also bring my own.
What a Train Wreck
This long run was a mess. Not much went right and I have some issues I may not be able to resolve by April 18th. I’m also heavier than I want to be and way out of marathon shape.
I guess it can only get better from here!
I’m running to support FamilyAid Boston this year. Your contribution will help homeless families in Boston.
Run well my Friends!
© 2016 andrew nagelin