Listening to Your Body in Marathon Training

If my ACL reconstruction in 2013 taught me anything, it’s how to listen to my body. Since then, I’ve been lucky to remain relatively injury-free. Sure, I’ve had minor twinges here and there that have sidelined me for a few days, but knock on wood, I’ve managed to figure out a training plan that works for me and have grown consistently stronger with each training cycle.

But back in November/December, when I started to up my overall mileage in preparation for the Rebel Challenge in Disney in January, I noticed that the little twinge I would sometimes feel in my right hip and butt cheek had turned into a burning, achy mess. It would usually start when I increased my mileage and while it didn’t hurt too much during a run, it would make me wince when I simply tried to step up a curb after a run. It was not a good look. But I learned how to manage it, with rest and foam rolling and OH SO MUCH STRETCHING.

Throughout the past 8 months or so, the pain has flared up 4-5 times. And each time I’ve just taken a day or two extra rest, stretched it to oblivion, and have returned good as new on my next run. But it’s annoying! Cut to this past weekend when I took on 12 miles for my latest long run, and that pain returned at around mile 4 with a vengeance.

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But I stuck it out and finished strong, and stretched for almost an hour. It didn’t feel TOO bad after that, but when I woke up on Monday, it was bad. I knew I’d probably have to take another day off this week, and I was fed up. Finally, I caved and decided to see the chiropractor that my sis-in-law Mere has been recommending to me for months (sorry for not listening to you sooner, Mere!!).

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This guy is GOOD. He was a USA Olympic Team chiropractor in 2004 & 2006, and his specialty in Sports Medicine is exactly the kind of expertise I need. Some doctors will simply say “stop doing that thing” which we as runners know is impossible. But a doctor with a sports background will help fix the issue and work with you so that you can KEEP doing that thing, but in a pain-free, non-injuring way.

And at about 48 hours since my first appointment, I’m surprised at how good it’s feeling already! The official issues are my hip flexor and piriformis, and he’s already started working on squeezing and zapping them back into shape. I go back Friday (tomorrow) and while I’m a little bummed he told me not to run until then, I can understand his logic: this first time, because he’s beating me up on the table on top of me pounding it for 12+ miles, we need to let it heal as much as possible to start from square one again.

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Until then, it’s just me and my iced tea and vodka in a Jar Jar cup (or a “Sad-tini” as I’ve dubbed it).

The last time I was told not to run, I was bitter and angry and wanted to run ASAP. But this time, I’m taking a more zen approach to the whole thing: sure, 3-4 days off now sucks, but if it takes 3-4 days of no running to keep me running injury-free for another 4+ months – and it gets me across the finish line of the NYC Marathon?! – I’ll gladly sit here and take the rest.

I’m getting older, and I know my body won’t be able to do the things that I want it to do forever. So when something feels wrong or off, I listen to the signals and take care of the little issues before they become big ones. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I know it’ll be worth it in the long run.

How about you: Have you ever seen a chiropractor? What’s your body trying to tell you? Do you think I could market the Sad-tini to other non-running Star Wars fans?

 

6 thoughts on “Listening to Your Body in Marathon Training

  1. I am training for NY too and knock on wood so far the extra miles have not had a negative effect on any body parts.

    I did have to listen to my body years ago and realize that drinking a lot of depressant does not make you feel happier so no sad tinis for me!

  2. As a physical therapist who has had significant issues, one which led me to being told to never run again, I understand! One word of advice that stuck with me regarding training for the marathon was to do whatever I needed to do to be as healthy as possible when i arrived at the start line in November for NYC. I keep reminding myself of this when I need an additional rest day. Pushing through pain does no good if it means I cannot run in November. Keep your eye on the prize (NYC!)!BethPT

  3. I wish more runners would see sports chiropractors for issues! I had great success seeing one and he not only helped me feel better, he taught me so many things that have kept my fairy injury-free (you know, aside from those random twinges or pulled muscles here and there). I always recommend seeing a sports chiropractor to injured runners, but it seems so many go straight to a PT. Physical therapy is great, but I just found much better results from a good sports chiropractor. Glad you’re on the mend!

  4. I see a chiropractor and it’s amazing how much it can make my body feel better. Now that I’m in my 30s I seriously need to slow down and listen to my aching body. He reminds me of that every two weeks when I see him 😉

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