The Girl Who Cried Marathon – Part 1

It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m back! And it has been a week or two, let me tell you. After getting all jazzed up for my long run with my last post, I made the bold choice of going for a 6 miler that Thursday night.


The first three miles were filled with pace-destroying calf pain, a totally new issue. I’d had calf strain issues due to overcompensation on that leg in a few recent runs, but nothing like this. I couldn’t go more than 50 yards without walking because of this intense burning sensation from my ankles to my knees. It subsided around mile 3 and was replaced with major chafing for the last 3 miles. BUT I finished 6 in [relatively] good time, then rested Friday and set out Saturday for my long run. And it was bad.

I was motoring through mile 6 when the wheels fell off the wagon. My knees locked up, my calves coiled into tight springs, and I felt a shooting pain grow from the outside of my right foot straight through my right calf up to the knee. I walked in circles, stretched it, even sat on a curb to rest, but it wasn’t having any of that. When I tried to run one last block, my right knee gave out and I had to call my husband to come pick me up.

Talk about a shame spiral while I waited? In 15 minutes, I went from “You can’t even finish a 13 mile training run” to “You can’t finish anything you start, even your marriage is just you trying to pretend to be an adult.”

photoMy inner voice can be a real douchebag sometimes.

So I punished my body all of the next day working in the yard, rested on Monday, then tried running again on Tuesday and found that I was ok after 2 miles. Not 100%, but OK. Wednesday I took off from running and told myself to focus on really pushing for a full night of cross training. So I surprised the hell out of myself with a double workout at the gym.

photo 1 And I felt great!

I started with a nice slow stretch, then did 4 miles in 50 minutes on the elliptical. After some more stretching I finished with 25 solid minutes in the pool. Lap after lap, I build my confidence up, stretched out those sore muscles, loosened everything up and generally played mermaid.Then that night I spent some time researching the possible causes of my injuries. I watched videos on common running problems, read up on knee issues, and picked up a few things that I couldn’t wait to try out on Thursday. I was tired by the time my run rolled around after work, so I told myself to go by feel with my new knowledge.

And 6 absolutely pain free miles later I was smiling from ear to ear 🙂

photo 2

That is one happy runner.

Throughout the run, I focused on 3 little things that added up for a huge difference:

  1. Shortening my stride. Overstriding is a common running issue that creates knee/calf issues, and as it turns out, I was doing it. A LOT.
  2. Paying closer attention to my pace. I stopped doing that a while ago because I just wanted to get faster but I only ended up going too fast and burning myself out early.
  3. NOT paying attention to my overall time. In my rush to get faster, I was too focused on what my overall time should be, and getting discouraged when the number wasn’t what I expected.

By the end of 6 miles, I felt great! Tired and spent, but good. A few aches in my calf, a tight back… I certainly couldn’t have done it all over again back to back to make 12, though. So while I was thrilled to have figured out what was causing some of my major issues I still had some lingering doubts, mostly about how I was going to build up my endurance to:

  • do what I just did 3 more times in a row
  • PLUS 2.2 more miles for a full 26.2 miles…
  • in just 6 weeks.

In my next post, we’ll look at that list in greater detail… and you’ll finally learn what the title of this post is all about!

5 thoughts on “The Girl Who Cried Marathon – Part 1

  1. I also read on another blog that the key to long distance running is shorter strides. Taking three steps per second is what was recommended. So in the time it takes you to say “One-One Thousand” you should be able to count “One-Two-Three” steps. It really helped me once I learned this. I also understand about NOT paying attention to one’s overall time. I used to wear a watch and time myself when I was running, but I became so obsessed with it, “How fast did I run that mile?!?”, and then would become upset if I didn’t run in a certain time. I decided to take the watch off during my runs. It made running so much more enjoyable. I decided that what was most important to me was to finish, and finish without injury. Did I have a finish time in mind for my first half marathon? Yes, of course. Did I finish in that time? Nope, but that’s okay. I finished. I didn’t run the entire distance either. I gave myself permission to walk when I needed to so that I could reach my ultimate goal of finishing. The same blogger that talked about shortening one’s stride also talked about how ultra-marathoners always mix walking and running – they never run the entire distance. Now I know that an ultra-marathon is actually any distance over marathon distance, but I just applied the same concept to my half marathon distance. I mean, that was “ultra” to me. It sounds like you are learning more about what you need to do to finish your marathon, and it sounds like for you and me that is the most important goal of all – finishing what we start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had never heard the 3-steps in a second thing, I’ll definitely have to check it out! But I’m noticing a huge improvement in how I feel as I build my mileage again now that I shortened my pace and ditched my ideas of what I “should” be doing, pace-wise.
      You’ve got the right idea though – finishing in one piece is what it’s all about, so whether I get to do that next month or after I heal and build up my endurance again, I will finish what I started!


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