Monday, September 28, 2009

Barbie Gets a Massage

If you're just tuning in, I've been a runner for about a year. I ran my first marathon in January 2009. Since then, I have been on fire to train for and run the Rock 'n Roll Marathon in San Antonio in November. I was hoping to qualify for Boston 2010, which would be a 3:50:59 time for my age group (I'm 42). I had the discipline, I had the momentum, there was no stopping me. Until something stopped me last week: A stress fracture to the cuboid bone in my right foot. No running for eight weeks. And guess what's in eight weeks? San Antonio.

Scream, cry, wallow in self pity. Read reader's comments and feel mountains better. So encouraging, insightful. So full of confidence in me to make my big comeback. Running and Living said, "You need to make a mental shift here and find a way to get excited about cross training." Marcus Grimm said, "I'd recommend respecting the long run a bit more -- in other words, there's not really a good reason for there to be a "moderate" run the day after a long run." Katie said, "You are so dedicated to running that God knew you would never take a break on your own. So he went to drastic measures."

In light of my running injury, I am re-assessing. Playing Monday morning quarterback, if you will. What could I have done differently to avoid this, or was it unavoidable? The culprits are:
  • Shoes: I chose a neutral shoe without much support. Wanted to go minimalist and light. I had been told by the Olympian that neutral was fine as I don't pronate, assinate, fartinate or any other "nates"

  • Overdoing it: I had upped my miles and my intensity in the days leading up to the injury

  • Overdoing it: I have been training for 13 months straight. I never stopped training for races in the past year. Here are the ones I did:

Full marathon: 1/09
Half marathon: 4/09
10K: 5/09
5K: 7/09
Half marathon: 8/09
Relay (16 miles): 8/09
Half marathon: 9/09

  • Predisposition: the injury I have is uncommon, especially for runners. It is typically a dancer or gymnast injury. I was a gymnast for four years in high school. Could that have weakened the cuboid and set me up for this?

  • Cross training: When people asked me what I did to keep in shape, I'd proudly say "just running and yoga," like it was some badge of honor. I didn't hardly cross train. Running fives days a week, yoga one day a week

What is to be gleaned or benefited from all of this? I am a former gymnast with neutral shoes who ran a lot of races between January and September, and did yoga.

I truly don't know if any or all of this matters, but I do know that I will be approaching things differently from here on out. First of all I will be sitting on my ass for the next two weeks. Then I will be (hopefully) given the right of way to get myself and my air cast out walking. Then it will be elliptical, swimming, biking. Then sometime in November, I will be given the "go" to run again, and I will go out and run the San Antonio Marathon that day and qualify for Boston. Gotcha, you freaks! Have a learned nothing? Running will start slow and steady. This is where things will change up from my former run-until-you-keel-over training plan.

Running and Living writes on her blog about the Runner's World book, "Run Less, Run Faster." Sounds kind of gimmicky and oxymoronish, like "Crap Less, Eat More Mexican Food," or "Stress Less, Talk to Your Mother-in-Law Everyday."

Nonetheless, it is a very scientific and sensical training plan based on having three "key runs" every week (speed, tempo, long) with cross training on the other days. Thousands of people, especially those who are prone to injury or simply do not have the time to train for endless hours per week, swear by this plan. It has even taken many of these people to their marathon PRs. I know many of you out there are into running 60-70 mile weeks and this has worked for you. It could still work for me, but I'm just messing with different approaches. And you, my insightful intelligent running friends, I want to know what YOU think.

Okay, this has nothing to do with running, but it is some comic relief. Yesterday my daughter, eight years old, told me that her Barbie was getting married later in the day and was getting a massage. I took a look and found that Barbie had quite the set up with a) no shirt on, boobs holding her up, b) Ken on his knees and giving her the choperoo, and c) her face planted into the bed like she just didn't care:

Just think: If I had been running I would have missed this most excellent photo-op.


  1. I have had several stress fractures. They are not fun, but I mentioned before about my hip...after that I started lifting weights and I haven't had a stress fracture in 9 years. (knock on wood) ( : I have run 12 marathons. I am proof cross training works. Good luck. Those 8 weeks will go by faster than you think. And you will be ready to hit the road and get that BQ!

  2. What, is that not the normal way to get a massage? ;)

  3. I think the plan sounds good. That's pretty much what I do now. I workout 6 days a week with one rest day, but I have cross training in my schedule as well as running. I fully believe that cross training is a MUST. My coach even added swimming on my schedule for the first time. UGH!

  4. I read this book when I was recovering from my IT band issue and I do think this book worked for me! I am over forty and I just haven't ever been able to handle 60 + weeks of mileage. I actually felt that doing less mileage made me faster for my half marathons and marathons. I couldn't follow this theory with my recent training because I needed the mileage for endurance but I still believe that this book helped me recover and make Boston a reality. Some do not agree with this book at all but it did work for me!

  5. I just finished the book and I am on the fence. I had been training on three days a week (prior to being injured) and I have not gotten faster. On the other hand, when I ran 7 marathons in 5 months training three days a week, I must have been doing something right.

  6. have really analyzed what went wrong. I hope that you have a quick recovery and get back to where you want to be.

    That Barbie pic completely cracked me up....LOVED IT!!!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. the barbie photo is classic, hope Ken got a good tip.

    I've started forcing myself to do some cross training myself, as well as lunges, pushups, etc. I got out my bike after I couldn't go for a run, because I dropped the vaccuum on my foot. But I still almost went for a run.

  8. I'm wondering what kind of shoe you think you should get next time. I was also told to get neutral by the running store people, but I have a knee injury and I'm wondering if shoes contributed...?

  9. I am DYING laughing at the Barbie pic!!!!!!

    Keeping my fingers crossed for a speedy recovery!!!

  10. At the end of last year, after having a very lackluster running year, I decided I needed to take a different approach. I was tired of getting injured and burned out and even more tired of paying for races that I bombed because I was injured and burned out. I decided to try the Runner's World FIRST program and reconstructed my running routine to only three days a week (speed, tempo and long), then added in two days of cross-training. For that, I stuck with strength training on weights but also took up spinning. Never before had I found a cross-training regimen that simulated the same kind of high I got from running, but spinning did it! Long story short, it's been a tough program with a lot of blood, sweat and tears but I've reaped the benefits. This year, I've run significant PR's at both the half-marathon and full marathon distances... and instead of being injured and burned out as I near the end of the racing season, I'm yearning for more.

    Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an injury to force us to see things more clearly. Best of luck to you getting back on your feet... figuratively and literally!

  11. I don't have any experiences to share, but I am going to start cross-training on the days I don't run. I am hoping it will help my IT Band issues. I am sure you will do the right thing for you; it sounds like you are really doing your homework!

  12. I know less than a month! I was flattered when you made your comment about it being 1 month away, I will admit I didn't even realize what the date was so it was cool to have friends to remind me ( ; Also...if I had a masseuse like that I wouldn't be getting married!

  13. What a great picture! And good for you for looking for the bright side!

  14. Hey! I just found this blog from your comment on Julie's (There Are No Downsides...)I just finished my first half on Saturday and I'm pumped I found another person like Juile, training for their first full! That massage pic made me laugh... because I'm going today at 5pm for my first massage! My body has recovered enough that it might actually feel good.

  15. I loved this post - way to go on the new plan, I love it! Running day after day bores me, I need to change it with some time on the bike and swimming in the winter, yoga when I have time.

    OMG I love me some hilarious toy pics! That's a winner for sure!

  16. lmao, love that pic of Barbie! After my most recent bout of stress fractures, it was *highly* recommended that i only run 3 days/week, and no back to back days. I've committed to that, and so far it's working for me! Plus, I enjoy the cross training on non-running days even more :)

  17. That picture and the commentary cracked me up!
    Hmm run less, less than I already do? I wish I could train all day every day and have nothing else to do.... oh yeah and have people to do it with!

  18. That's pretty funny about your daughter. Has she been watching R rated movies? Maybe just mom and dad? :)

    My coach suscribes the Run Less, Run Faster method and I have to say I have made MAJOR speed improvments. True, I had a large window to work with, but nontheless I am a firm believer. I never even peaked at 40 miles a week (although some of my training partners did) most of us he coaches are about the same in terms of weekly mileage.

    I totally agree with Marcus' comment too. I cring whenever I hear about people running an 18 miler at MP. What's the point of that?

  19. That picture is awesome!

    I used the Run Less, Run Faster program for my marathon last spring and loved it! I've PR'd almost every race distance this year after using that program.

  20. Well, because you made me sound smart... :)

    I actually did the FIRST plan for my first marathon (of 3). I did it because I'd only been running for a year and wasn't eager to ramp up my mileage drastically.

    Two years later, my first (and FIRST) marathon is still my fastest.

    Because I've done the FIRST, I can tell you that it's a great way to get fast while staying healthy. To be fair, however, here's why I didn't do it in my last two marathons:
    1.) FIRST is not for people who like to run, imo. It's for people who want to run fast. Most workouts are hard... none of that oh-nice-refreshing-five-miles-with-my-friends stuff. For better or worse.
    2.) Though I have a good bicycle and don't mind cross-training, cycling in bad weather can suck, as can cycling indoors.
    3.) My specialty is long distance, FIRST accentuates speed.

    *** Despite those negatives, after two disappointing non-FIRST marathons, I'm going to a plan that closely mirrors what I did with FIRST. It's a hard plan, without much flexibility, but it works.


  21. Sounds like you're on a great path to recovery. Good luck, and I know you'll come back better than ever.

  22. hang in there lady!! by the time you are ready to hit the pavement again you will be so knowlegable about it all based on this. just try to find some crosstraining that would work for you. my husband has been swimming a ton and got into cycling too since he cant run right now with his SF... its not the same but at least it keeps some fitness there? you will be back and BQing very soon!

  23. Love your blog and love this post. I know you are disappointed, but you are already a much smarter runner because of it. You will recover, you will be stronger, and you will BQ!

  24. What the hell happened? I went away for a few days thinking you were just being a complainer and come back to see you canceling races and wearing a boot? Oh no! I am sooooo sorry!
    I am not an expert, and I won't pretned to be either, but since I have only done the route where you run as many miles a week you can with speed, LD runs and the such I can't imagine how three days a week of running will get you anywhere. Plus, it sounds like you really love running, doesn't that plan defeat the purpose?
    I have been injured a few times this year, mainly just a few muscle items that have been overused and strained, but everytime I have to take a break I do go back and analyize what I could have done differently. Thruth is, not much. Maybe the shoes are the cuplert, maybe not. Maybe the higher mileage is the devil in all of this, maybe not. Don't kill yourself with trying to figure out where you might of gone wrong. You got injured on a fluke, you needed a break anyway. Enjoy the cross training, find something you can do and will keep your cardio up. All of my setbacks have led me to actually incorporate bike rides and core workouts that I might have not otherwise given a shot. You will come back from this, it just sucks waiting. Remember that you love running, and it will be there for you when you are all healed up. If anything, maybe some nuturitional changes might help, like uping your calcium and protein.
    I am so sad for you, but remember all runners have been there before (remember Dena Kastor and Bejing?). We have all sidelined. You will come out of this appreciating your runs that much more. Plus, I am excited at the prospect of getting many more pics like the Barbie one!
    Good luck lady! Hope we can all help you get through this! :)

  25. AWWWWW crap. I'm so sorry to hear that. You were really gettin' after it. I'm so sorry Beth, but I know that you've got more good running in store for you in a couple of months. Take care and get better!!!!

  26. PS- My two cents. I don't think you were TRAINING too much, I think you may have been RACING too much. Just my opinion from 2,000 miles away.

  27. I love the picture! I'm cracking up btw! :) I'm gonna take your advice. I was considering doing the run less run faster plan, but i opted not to. I didn't think it was enough running. Next time, i think i'm gonna do that plan, and just take out a cross training day. I don't want to over due it either.

    I'm really sorry your going through this- i wish i knew what to say. It sucks and i hope the 8 weeks goes by quick so your back to running in no time! In the mean time if you need to vent, i'm here!