Marathon Training Update: March 25-31, Do No Harm

“Listen to your body.” It’s one of those pieces of advice that every runner should heed. Unfortunately, it’s also advice that is all too often ignored. We runners can be rather stubborn when it comes to getting in our miles, especially when a race is looming, and the consequences of not listening when your body is telling you to ease off can be disastrous. I’ve been trying to do a better job of listening to my own body, and this week it was telling me that I needed to be careful.

My mantra for this week has been “do no harm.” I messed up my middle right toe last week during a speed workout, and it has been a cause of concern ever since. I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, but early on this week it felt like there was a lump under the base of the toe, and it hurt when I squeezed the proximal phalange or put weight on it. My biggest fear was that I somehow broke it.

My plan for this week included two quality workouts during the week, some easy miles, and a 16 mile long run. The speed workouts were mostly at marathon pace, but Coach Caleb had included some strides in one of them, and the second was supposed to be a bit harder than marathon pace effort. My fear was that pushing the pace too much (e.g., doing strides) might force me to push off hard and aggravate the toe. As such, I modified the plan to eliminate any running much faster than marathon pace (which hopefully will be somewhere between 7:45 and 8:00 min/mile), and I opted to do the easy miles very, very easy. The plan seems to have worked as my toe didn’t bother me much on my long run today, and it feels pretty good right now as I write this.

Here’s what the week looked like:

Monday: Planned off day for long run recovery.

Tuesday: 5.16 miles at 7:46 min/mile pace. First run with my local running club in several years. Toe felt sore during the run. Felt great to have some company, miles pass by so much faster! Saucony Virrata on the feet.

Wednesday: Toe felt sore in the morning so I took the day off.

Thursday: 10.61 miles total at 7:55 min/mile pace. I’m co-coaching a couch to 5K program starting next week and had an appointment scheduled to check out our meeting location. It was only 5.5 miles away and not formal at all so I decided to run to it instead of drive. Ran a few more miles to scope out some easy routes to start the program, and felt good enough that I opted to run home as well. The toe started acting up after a few uphill miles and luckily my wife passed me in the car (she was driving my sleeping 2yo around, the life of a parent!) and I opted to hitch a ride the rest of the way home. Asics Gel Lyte33 on the feet.

Friday: Toe sore in the morning, took the day off.

Saturday: 6.02 miles at 9:16 min/mile pace. Did Taekwondo in the morning for an hour, no toe issues. Wanted to get some miles in since it felt ok, but wanted to go super easy since I had 16 miles planned for Sunday. Took all three kids along with me to ensure a nice, easy pace (little guy in the BOB stroller, big kids on their bikes). Toe felt fine throughout, which was encouraging. Asics Gel Lyte33 on the feet.

Sunday: 16.06 miles at 8:10 min/mile pace. Another hilly long run, but not as bad as last week. Felt good until mile 13-14 when I started to feel a bit dehydrated (didn’t carry any water). Stopped at a gas station for a drink then finished up the final 2 miles. Tough run, but no major complaints from the toe, so happy about that. Asics Gel Lyte33 on the feet, hopefully will get a review up this week.

Elevation profile for the long run:

Elevation Profile

37+ miles on the week. Encouraged by how the toe feels, glad I scaled back the speed. On to next week!

Here’s what’s on tap, fearing the 18 miler just a bit…

Easy Miles: 6 (1 run)

Strength Routines: Taekwondo

Workout 1 (Tuesday/Wednesday): 9 miles total.  Warm/cool up to you.  Middle portion is 3 x 3k with paces descending from MP (first 3k) to 10-mile pace (last 3k).  Jog recovery for 3 minutes in between 3k’s.  If you are doing this by Garmin, 3k = 1.86 miles.  I would recommend trainers for warm-up and cool-down, flats (Virrata?) for the pacing work.

Workout 2 (Thursday/Friday): 9 miles total.  2 easy, 6 @ MP, 1 easy.  Complete 30 seconds each of side shuffles and backward skips after this run to open your hips back up.

Long (Saturday/Sunday): 18, steady easy effort throughout.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Clifford Clark says:

    Wow, a runner who listens to his body. I wasn’t sure that creature even existed! :-)

  2. Michael Blamauer says:

    Hi Peter,

    I had the same problems with the middle-toe (the feeling that a kind of an aching knob was under the joint) about a year ago, when I switched shoes: from NB MT10 to Asics Hyperspeed. Running in the Asics aggravated the toe-joint more and more and after running four times in them I switched back to the NB. After the second run in the NB the pain was gone. Reason? I was curious and took a closer look at the Asics: I discovered a small implemented foam-pad directly under the forefoot, which caused it to hang through and aggravated the middle toe joint.

    Maybe all humbug, but in my case, ditching the Asics was the solution.

    Best Michael

  3. Andy Pickler says:

    Just curious…my goal marathon time (to coincide with my best performance over the last couple of years) is similar to yours, but my training paces are definitely slower. Do you wear a heart rate monitor? If so, what is your heart rate during these paces? At 42 years of age I’ve been trying to keep my heart rate down a little more (high 140s) during a majority of my running, and I’d be up near 160 at an 8:10 min/mile pace for a long run. Still not quite sure in my training how much I should be training “by pace”, “by feel”, or “by heart rate”. In the past I think I’ve run too fast during training, which also led me to run too fast early in marathons (and then suffer slow defeat over the last 13 miles).

    • Stephen Boulet says:

      I noticed too. The 16 miler at 8:10 stood out for me as a bit on the fast side. I’m shooting for a 3:30 marthon in May (a stretch goal to be sure) and run my long runs near 9:10, though I’ll get a 13 miler at 8:08. I’m following the Jack Daniels plan, so I do shorter, faster runs too. Similar to Pete I need to choose whether to go with the Saucony Virratas or the Sketchrs Go Run Rides.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Great question, probably worthy of a full post to explain my approach here as I would agree that my long run pace is a bit on the fast side for my goal time. I’ll get on it!

  4. christian brassington says:

    Hello Pete, great post, I would like to do that myself one day! This is a bit off-topic, but I am a 38 year old overweight bloke who has just become a dad and wants to get fit both for himself and for his family. I am about to start the C25K programme, but before I start, could you recommend some shoes for a beginner like me? I tried a few years ago to start running in some thick-heeled asics and got injured after a few weeks, so I was looking for some minimalist-shoe advice. Any pointers would be gratefully received and I will let you know how I go on!
    Thanks!

  5. Beedavis says:

    I have started listening to my body, albeit, way too late. I have a lot of miles on my feet. We ran 3-5 miles daily during my time in the marines and 3 miles two or three times a week for the past 8 years after completing active duty. A result of that is a recent diagnosis of plantar faciitis. Let me just say that I would not wish that on my worse enemy. It is bearable while running but after I stop and sit still, it is excruciating. It usually stays like that for 24-36 hours. It’s so bad that I have to crawl to the bathroom. I’ve tried anything from new shoes, to socks, tape and cortisone injections in my heels. It’s been like this for the past 6 months. Just thought I would mention it in case anyone has had the same. Great Post!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Have you tried foam rolling the heck out of you calf muscles? helped a lot when I had it last year.

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      • Beedavis says:

        I have not tried that. The most success I have had was taking one of those old glass coke bottles and putting it in the freezer. After I get finished working out, I will roll the bottom of my feet on top of it back and forth. It hurts while doing so, but it’s one of those pain that “hurts so good” if that makes since. I don’t know man…. It’s really depressing. Worse pain Ive ever felt. That and shin splints are a runners worst nightmare. Thanks for the advice to all

    • Had PF for two years. Tried all kinds of medicines. All provided temporary relief for the pain but did not heal it. Tried seated foot stretch too. Again, was just temporary. Finally tried yoga bare foot one legged stance. Started for just a few seconds and built up up to two minutes 3x a day for two weeks straight. Worked for me, maybe could work for you. No more PF today. :)

      • Beedavis says:

        Hey man, you know, I will try anything right now. Ill google and give it a shot. Like you said though, all of the others have provided temp. Relief.

        • Just read an interesting article about the connection with persistent lower leg problems due to having weak hip muscles. I also had shin splints and hamstring pain when I returned to running because of having the “too much, too soon” syndrome. Did hip strengthening and lower leg exercises with resistance tubes, aside from observing good running form, stretching and other important stuff before and after running. Surprisingly, my aches and pains dramatically disappeared. Head on to link to runnersconnect.netlink to runnersconnect.net… and also link to cnyhealingarts.com… for many eye-opening and helpful articles. I hope you find the solution to your problem sooner than later. :)

  6. James Ubriaco says:

    Congratulations on your forebearance!

  7. I’m really enjoying your weekly recaps Pete. Thanks for shedding some light on your training, it’s always interesting to see someone’s plan/progression.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks, it’s been really helpful to write this stuff down, may continue doing it post marathon as well. Keeps me honest :)
      Sent from my iPad

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