Managing Setbacks

Posted: January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Many runners, particularly first-time marathoners, find considerable comfort in precisely following the training schedule.  But I’ve always felt that being flexible, closely following how you feel and adjusting your training accordingly, is always a more effective approach to successful marathon training.  Unfortunately, unexpected obstacles and challenges are part of life and ultimately affect training.  It’s important to accept the reality of this and make necessary adjustments to provide the most positive results.

The weather has been a major challenge during this training season.  Training on ice and snow-covered roads can be problematic from a safety standpoint, forcing runners inside to run on a treadmill or pursue other forms of cross-training.  Those choosing to remain outside can easily encounter various forms of running related injuries which can be extremely unsettling.  When you’re required to alter or modify your natural running form you place additional stress on parts of your body that may result in injury. 

I have spoken with several runners in this situation and I can appreciate how unsettling this is.  The tendency is to return to running as quickly as possible and make up for lost mileage.  The best advice is to remain calm and patient as a quick return to training can exacerbate the injury.  It’s far better to err on being conservative and incorporate cross-training until you’re able to run pain-free.  It’s also important to identify the cause of the pain/injury and develop a strategy, hopefully with my help, in an effort to return to the training schedule as quickly as possible.

Runners have a tendency to over stretch an area that’s troubling them which can also postpone recovery.  One of the more common injuries is iliotibial band syndrome and most PT’s recommend stretching as part of their protocol.  I can appreciate this recommendation but I’ve seen this injury linger because of the stretching.  I think stretching an already inflamed tendon, ligament or muscle isn’t advisable.  RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is the basic foundation for recovery along with low or non-impact cross training.

In summary, it’s far more beneficial to take a deep breath and not panic when you experience pain significant enough to prevent you from running.  Contact me immediately and offer your insight into the location and cause of the pain.  Rest assured that I can get you back on track with your training in a timely manner and minimize the loss of training benefits to this point in your training. 

Managing setbacks effectively is an important part of marathon training success.  Communicate with me and I’ll do everything necessary to assist you in handling the challenges and obstacles of your training!

  1. Joe says:

    This post hit home. Right before Christmas I started to experience knee pain so awful I could barely walk. It was very difficult for me as I worried I would fall behind in the training, but I stopped running completely for almost two weeks, and focused on what I could do until the pain was gone. I tried to eat right and used RICE. To keep excercizing I swam at the gym and rode my bike which I could do pain-free. Per your reccomendation I avoided NSTAIDs and ate as much pineapple and papaya as I could. It worked, and when I felt good again I made sure I ran ‘like an old lady running on ice’. I slowly built back up my mileage, and this weekend I was able to run 12 miles without any pain, and am now ready to rejoin the team run this next weekend.

  2. Hello Joe,

    Thank you for offering your insight. It is always reassuring that the advice I’m offering is being followed and, most importantly, that it works! I’m so glad that you were able to gradually return to training with the Marathon Coalition TEAM!


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