The week leading up to a marathon (this week) is always easy for me, physically that is. It’s mostly easy because I’m still tapering, and all my runs are at an easy pace. Mentally, this is when I start to look back at how my training went, and I try to prepare my mind to run 26.2 miles. The weight of all those miles and all those hours over the course of the past 4 months bear down on me. I have to admit I’m glad it will be over soon. Don’t get me wrong, I love running, and I love training for a big race such as the Flying Pig Marathon; however, putting in the proper amount of mileage wears on you, and I’m ready for a little break.
This is my second time using Hanson’s Marathon Method for training, and as you can tell by my mileage summary for the past 4 months, that’s a lot of miles; this time though, it’s been a lot harder to get in those workouts. Last time, when I was training for the Philadelphia Marathon, I don’t know what it was, but I only missed one workout during the entire 4 months versus this time I missed about 6-8 workouts. I would have preferred not to miss any, but a couple things happened this time that impacted my training.
First, I had several unexpected late days at work; I am a computer tech. Not only do I love what I do, but it also provides money to fund my running adventures. Any runner knows that race fees and running shoes are not cheap. Second, I dealt with something I had never dealt with before: the psoas muscle.
In early March, I started having back pain that I hadn’t experienced before. At first I thought to myself, Oh no! Is this what people mean when they say getting old sucks? At the age of 31, my running “career” is over! Ok, maybe I was being a little over dramatic (This is where my girlfriend would chime in and say, “You dramatic? NEVER! Haha). I tried to tough it out and just walk it off, but after a couple weeks, it wasn’t going away. It would hurt less for a couple days, but then come back. It’s not like it was a horrible pain where I couldn’t function. In fact, it only hurt when I walked or got up from a sitting position. During my runs, it felt all right; however, I could still feel that something was off, and I needed to do something to remedy the problem.
I had never seen a chiropractor before; nonetheless, I figured if it was related to a back muscle then my best bet was to give it a try. Several friends, who are runners, gave me their recommendations so I decided to try out Dr. Nick Savatgy over at Canyon Lake Neck & Back Clinic.
During my initial visit, he quickly identified what was going on with my back pain. He explained how the psoas muscle basically connects your spine to your leg. It is a hip flexor muscle, and assists with pulling the thigh and the torso toward each other. For a runner, the psoas is everything! I think Runner’s World says it best in “Runners Guide to the psoas”: Every time you lift your knee, the psoas contracts. When your leg swings back, the psoas lengthens. It basically enables you to run. Dr. Nick concurred that since I am in a sitting position most of my day during work, the psoas essentially is not being stretched, and this in turn shrinks the muscle and makes it less elastic and tight. When I run or walk, the act of lifting my knee pulls on my back via that muscle and this leads to back pain. If not attended to, this can lead to an injury that can sideline you for a while.
Dr. Nick proceeded to align my back, and I could tell what he was saying made sense because those areas that he described, I could feel that they were tight. He cracked me a couple times, which totally freaked me out. How do they do that?! Haha. He then recommended some stretching and core exercises that would help combat the fact that I sit all day. I followed his direction for a couple weeks, along with getting aligned one more time, and my back pain went away. I was able to continue the rest of my training injury free, which brings us to the present: the week leading up to the race.
Yes, there were a couple things that made me miss workouts, but it was a valuable learning experience. I’m glad I found out what was wrong before any injury could have presented itself. Now, I am packing for Ohio, and I keep envisioning it all in my head: The workouts, the running gear, my shoes… I pray to the running gods that my shoes don’t get lost during my flight! I also think back to my previous marathon. I trained more for the Philadelphia Marathon and that was an easier course than this one (this one has a little bit of a climb to it), which lead to my finishing time of 3:28:10. When I run the numbers in my head, in this training cycle, I trained harder than any other marathon, except for Philly. By that logic, I should be able to beat my previous best of 3:40:35. One always hopes for a PR, but I’m a realist, so I predict that my finishing time will be somewhere in between 3:28-3:40. The road to Cincinnati was not an easy one; I could have thrown in the towel, but I kept churning away. Even though I missed some workouts, I’m confident that I will still run a good race. Ultimately, that is all any runner can ask: to run a good race and finish it injury free. I know that I’m ready to cross number 18 off my list and this coming Sunday, I will do exactly that.