As most of you know, I am sitting here with an air-cast on my foot. I have to wear this thing for four weeks to heal a stress fracture on the top of my foot. My doctor said the pain in my ankle is ligament pain, and that “isolated” or “normal” ligament pain should stop right there — in the ankle. He became concerned when I said the pain radiated to the middle of my inner-left foot. That’s when he pressed on the area where I said it typically hurts, and it killed after he did that.
After I got an X-ray, he told me that he could see some kind of build-up where the pain is, and that means I likely got this stress fracture in this past and that it did not go away yet.
So, here I am — me and my air cast. And while I imagined I would be sitting here counting down the days to running again, I’m really not. If I am honest, I’m not even sure if I want to continue running in the future (which is probably not a surprise to anyone).
Welcome to #AskCoachCourtney! Each week or two, I take questions from my loyal readers and followers. I had a few submissions this week, and this one stood out to me because it’s often debated: Is a 20 mile run a standard necessity during marathon training?
The short answer: No.
There are a lot of coaches who would disagree with me (Hal Higdon included), but based on what we know about the science of running and high impact exercise, whether you run 20 miles during marathon training or not is individual and varies depending on your easy run pace, goals, and more.
This is a photo of me after I finished my first timed 5k in April 2015. I had my little sidekick with me – my daughter, who wasn’t even two yet – in the BOB Ironman jogging stroller. We enjoyed the race and many miles in this stroller. I purchased it because this single-child jogging stroller, priced at over $300 retail, seemed to be “the name” in jogging strollers for serious runners.
It seemed perfect. I was willing to make the splurge.
Sometime circa 2016, my sister-in-law told me she was running along with my nephew in her gently-used (in other words, manufactured prior to 2015) BOB Ironman and that somehow, the front wheel detached. The stroller flipped over leaving her baby with a bloodied face and leaving her in shock and panic.
She assumed it was her fault and that it was user error. When she told me about it, I thought, “Wow, ok, maybe – but the front wheel coming off? Britax should be making that pretty bullet proof. Even if the wheel isn’t on perfectly, it shouldn’t simply detach.”
Apparently, Britax also considered it user error.
For at least 200 runners using the stroller.
And for two years after the complaints started, they neglected to disperse any information about it.
Britax seems reluctant to take any responsibility for such a dangerous defect to their (very popular and expensive) jogging strollers.
As many know, I am now in the peak weeks of training for my first full marathon – the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5, 2019. This week, my long run is 18 miles. Next week…it’s the dreaded (but necessary) 20 miler.
Throughout training, I have made a few mistakes (okay, maybe more than a few) when it comes to recovery. When I began to take the rest/recovery days more seriously, I realize I was using a few key items and developing a few key habits that would probably help others.
Here are my top 5!
ALL The Tiger Balm. Tiger Balm is an OTC pain reliever that comes in a tiny glass gar (and trust me, guys – that tiny jar has lasted me nearly two years!). It works a lot better – and smells a lot more heavenly – than some other typical OTC analgesics. Tiger Balm is made from camphor, menthol, and (my fave) clove oil among others. There’s actually a pretty cool history behind this stuff, and you can read about it here.
In addition to using traditional Tiger Balm, I’ve also begun using the Tiger Balm patches and active gel. I use the patches on areas that typically tighten up, cramp, or knot easily (like my quads or IT bands).
That one day when I thought I was pretty much out of the game for my 16 miler, Tiger Balm helped me get it done. Highly recommended!
Textured roller/tennis ball. Foam rolling is great for larger areas such as the quads, hamstrings, and IT bands – but sometimes, you really need to work out a knot or focus on a smaller area/muscle group.
The texture of these massagers works better than a tennis ball; this recovery tool doesn’t slide around and stays put. So, if you’re rolling your foot for plantar fasciitis, you’d definitely want something like this. I’ve used it to roll and massage the heels of my feet, focus on certain areas of my quads or IT bands, etc. It’s great to have something smaller that can really target tight areas (that’s what she said).
Ice ice, baby. No really – a friend suggested I dip into an ice bath after running my 16 miler, and it helped immensely. Icing muscles can help with the following:
Ice reduces blood-flow which means it stops inflammation.
Because it can decrease inflammation, it can therefore decrease pain and soreness
A few different students have shown that a 15 ice bath increases coordination abd muscle strength.
I sat in the ice bath for about 15 minutes and I recovered A LOT quicker this week as far as soreness. I’m actually not sore at all today, and I even ran hill repeats 48 hours after my sixteen miler. I followed the ice bath with a hot shower because once you get the inflammation under control, heat can help get blood flowing which is also important for recovery.
PS: Stake N Shake has cheap and big bags of ice available through the drive-thru!
Simple carbohydrates + protein immediately after a long run. If you’re like me, you’re not starving when you finish your long-run. Hunger usually hits me later in the day. I have to force myself to eat after my long run, and if I can only stomach something small, I am going to make it worth it.
For me, that’s a simple carbohydrate (like white bread) and protein (like peanut butter). I find that by eating this combo, I am able to get some energy back and don’t feel quite as exhausted.
The next day is a different story – I literally eat everything in site.
Tylenol. Disclaimer: Do not start taking any new OTC medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
I usually take aspirin, but after my long runs, I take Tylenol. I’m usually a bit nauseated after all that running, and Tylenol is very easy on the stomach. I’m not a fan of Tylenol for any other ailment (I honestly think it sucks for everything else), but popping two Tylenol help the soreness.
Side note: Ladies, give me ideas for a new sports bra because mine cut into my shoulders so much that my neck hurts after running.
Hopefully these items help you as much as they help me!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something from a link in this, I may receive a commission.
I am not sponsored by any company in this post, but I did receive free items from Tiger Balm (although I have been using it and swearing by it long before).
My husband recently began going on the treadmill. He walks most of the time, but he’ll toss a few tenths of a mile worth of running in there, too. He suffers from shin splints, and this has been an issue for him since he was on the cross country team in school – at least 20 years ago.
I took a look at his foot strike one day, and suddenly, the reason behind the shin splints made sense: he heel strikes. In fact, over 80% of runners heel strike. There is conflicting information regarding whether or not heel striking is problematic, but most of the research points to a loud “YES” – heel striking is detrimental to your training and body for many reasons.
This week’s #fridayfive provides you with some insight!