In my seventeen years as a massage therapist, I am still amazed by some of the things I see in my office. Being situated 1/10th of a mile from the finish line of one of the most prestigious marathons in the world, the Boston Marathon, we see more than our fair share of runners coming through our doors. I am so impressed with the dedication they have made over what is typically a harsh and unfair winter (this winter was an exception) while training for a race that is even more unforgiving in not just its unpredictable race-day climate, but elevation changes and road conditions (thank god for the best race day fans in the world).
Training for a marathon is a rite of passage for most. Whether they are running their initial race or trudging onto their 50th before age 50, they all have one thing in common, an unrelenting desire to conquer the course and put a check mark on the bucket list.
We are just weeks away from the start of the 116th running of the Boston Marathon. I hope this blog post will serve as a reminder that you are so close to achieving your goals and nothing should distract you from attaining them, especially yourself. This is the time in your training that you are likely running more miles than you have ever run in your life. It only stands to reason that your body will begin to struggle more and more in its recovery phase. There is an old saying; “Listen to your body”. This does not mean there is an actual voice from within that will speak to you. This means that you should pay close attention the signs. Signs that indicate your body’s need for attention. Many of us grew up with a “no pain, no gain” mentality in our training. That refers to the burn you feel from a rigorous activity, not the ignoring of a constant pain that occurs within the first mile or two of a run that comes and goes. Those pains are signs that your body needs some attention.
Attention does not mean get a massage (although it will likely benefit you). Attention means that you should possibly stretch more before and after runs. You should take stock of your nutritional intake before, during and after your increased running days. You should ask a health care professional (not your running partner) about any changes in your performance.
Google can be a godsend, but it can also be a calamity. Let’s say for instance that you are suddenly experiencing pain on the outside of your knee. If you “Google it”, it may show you articles related to Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction syndrome. If you ask your running mate and they may say; “Oh, I had that. I read on Google that it’s probably just ITB friction syndrome. You should foam roll it”. You have two “trusted” non-professional sources that you feel confident understand your issue. Now you spend sporadic times possibly foam rolling (correctly and incorrectly) over the next few weeks, perhaps you try to stretch it. But, to no avail, it still is giving you a bear of a time. You have now lost valuable training time, possibly created greater irritation to the issue, lost significant time to rehab the issue, created a mental hurdle that you need to overcome every time you go out for a run and now the race is in just 4 weeks.
Is it too late? In this case possibly not. However, in others, it may be likely that your minor injury that you tried to run through or self-assess is now so severe that running a 5K seems like a monumental hurdle.
In the coming weeks, we are going to see “you” come limping through our doors with “save me” scrolled across your forehead. We are very well equipped to accommodate your issues and can be a significant resource in getting you across the finish line on April 16th. The heavy mileage you place upon your body is cumulative. You are training to become a part of an elite fraternity of runners who can say they ran the Boston Marathon. Don’t waste these last 4 weeks ignoring the signs and running through the pain. Now is the time to take heed with your training and attend to the minor issues that arise. Marathon day adrenaline will get you though much of the race, but injuries can become sever and completely derail a chance of a lifetime.