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Running the Charlevoix Marathon

July 05, 2018

Last week, I ran and finished my first marathon ever in Charlevoix, MI. I no doubt will run many more. I tried falling asleep at 10pm as I had to get up at 5:30am for the race. I was trying to fall asleep while reading, which always works for me, but this time I didn't fall asleep for two whole hours. It could have been a slight headache that I had been nursing since about 3pm that afternoon or just pre-race excitement that kept me up. Whatever it was, at 12am I had been reading for two hours and was still wide awake with a small headache. I ended up getting out of bed and going to a nearby liquor store for Tylenol. I popped two and had given up on getting good sleep so the edge was gone. By about 1am I finally fell asleep. I get up at 5:30am and jump in a very quick cold shower to wake up. I did a little stretching, ate an apple and had some of a leftover kale salad. I ate a GU, had a half of a bagel with peanut butter from the hotel breakfast and drank some water. Then I walked out to the start, which was literally right outside my hotel. I had my airpods in, music playing at 6:30am when we took off. I started out running with the 4:15 pace group, but about 2 miles in started to speed up past them. About 6 miles in I passed the 4:00 pace group. I told myself I wanted to beat 4hrs so I felt I was in good shape. At about mile 10 it started to drizzle and it felt great. At mile 11, I told myself lets get in a fast 2 miles to close out the first half of the race and then I can slow down for 5 miles and once I hit mile 18 I'll speed up again. I also was getting pretty soaked as the rain started picking up. Below is a screenshot of the splits.

Splits

At mile 13 I was drenched from rain and decided to take my airpods out, as well as take my headband off. I decided I'd slow down a bit until mile 18, when I thought I'd be able to put my airpods back in and pick up the pace for the rest of the race. I did not know the pain that was coming. My legs were absolutely dead at mile 18. I stopped at an aid station to stretch a bit, and saw the 4:00 pace group pass me. I started getting a little bummed out because I knew it would be tough to catch back up with them with the way my legs were feeling. I kept my airpods out, and decided to just tough it out and face my thoughts for the rest of the race. Found some strength for the next 4 miles, but then at mile 23 I hit another wall. My legs were totally dead. I had to walk a lot of mile 23 and when I started up running again, the pain was even worst. I was doing an extremely slow jog for mile 24 and 25, then walked the first half of mile 26 and for the last half mile I did a hobble type of jog. The 4:15 pace group passed me on the last mile but I wasn't too bummed. I finished my first marathon and absolutely loved it. There is no doubt I will do many more of these.

Finished race

Screenshot of me at the finish.

Finish

Total time and route.

Preventing RRI

August 06, 2018

For weekly scholar this week, I read a short article about preventing RRI or running related injuries. Being a new runner, having just started getting into longer distances this year, I am interested in learning preventive measures to make sure I'll be able to continue running. I always wonder if this is just a phase for me and if eventually I won't run as much, but for now I'm thoroughly enjoying it and plan to run a few races next year. I'm in the midst of a 14-week training program now for the Detroit Half Marathon in October, and I'm treating that as a training run for the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland in January 2019. Then I've got my sights set on the Banff Marathon in Alberta, Canada in June of 2019. So in order to knock out these races, I feel like I need to be running smart and doing the necessary things while I'm not running to be sure my body will be able to hand all the miles.

Screen shot 2018 08 06 at 4.13.39 pm

A fascinating, and reassuring, find from this study is that injuries tend to occur in runners who are just starting out. Novice and recreational runners have the highest rate of injury. Once you get past that level, if you are injury free and keep up your weekly mileage, there seems to be a good chance that you will be able to run strong at high mileage. That's my current approach to my running after knocking out my first full marathon this past June. I jumped into things to quickly for my first full marathon, and noticed some soreness and sharp pain in my hip joints. After taking some time off before running hard again, I realized that building that base is the most important part of running long distances. I started out my training this time with a 12-mile week and have increased my weekly milage each week by no more than 2%. My legs feel much better so far and my pace is much faster.

According to this article, the best preventive measures one can take when running are to listen to your body, get a proper warmup and use orthotics or running insoles. It's interesting to note that the article states that stretching is not proven to be a factor in preventing injury. Apparently getting a proper warmup in before running is more beneficial than stretching.

Reference: Tonoli, Cajsa & Cumps, Elke & Aerts, Inne & Verhagen, Evert & Meeusen, Romain. (2010). Incidence, risk factors and prevention of running related injuries in long-distance running: a systematic review Injury, location and type. Sport en Geneeskunde. 5. 13-18.

Running-Related Injury Awareness in Novice Runners

August 26, 2018

In continuing my research on running and running-related injuries, I found that the novices are most at risk. I read an article by the Dutch human movement scientist and epidemiologist, Evert Verhagen. He talks about the current level of awareness in regards to what we know about preventing running-related injuries in novice runners. It turns out, we don't know much of what is causing injuries in novice runners, or who is more susceptible to which type of injury. Most studies have had poor sample sizes and have all called for more research on the subject. With an estimated 1.4 million runners in the Netherlands, of which the total population is 17 million, you would think that we would have more research done on the subject and be better at preventing injuries for new runners. Those numbers are just the Netherlands, imagine what percentage of people across the world are out running. It's great to see running gain popularity due in part to its low entry level and quick health effects, but it's also not great to see that the number of running-related injuries per year accounts for about 9% of all sports injuries. As I get more into running, I'm even noticing some signs that I need to slow down. My hips are very tight, so I can't do speed work as often as I'd like to. I get some inflammation in my hips if I push myself too hard.

It seems that the novice runner and the experienced runner are two different breeds of athlete. Risk and type of injury differ greatly between groups. It's a complex problem to tackle since we are all built differently. The data shows that reducing the load or increasing loading capacity might reduce risk of injury. This research is still all speculative, which I find interesting. However, this particular article was published 6 years ago. At the time, it was still speculative but it was believed to be likely that every runner has an individual set of weak links that are predisposed to injury. If the runner is handling the load consistently throughout their body, then this might lead to one injury occurring much more frequently than others (where load is maximal). This might explain my hip issue. The tightness in my hips could be my weak link. Another speculation is that running injuries are caused by the overloading of specific soft-tissue structures. There is current evidence supporting the weak spot theory, and the soft-tissue theory. Again, surprises me how little we still know about this.

Kinematics is mentioned in this article and it's stated that running-induced fatigue often causes less stability in their core. This leads to runners altering their trunk flexion and extension. I don't pay enough attention to my running mechanics, and should probably consult a professional. The next run I go on, I will focus on keeping my core stable and back strong and see if I notice a difference. Like I mentioned in my previous running-related injury post, there seems to be some things that might help but no one knows for sure. I don't push myself as hard as I did when I first started running since I am aware of the learning curve. I hope to get past the novice stage injury free. Making sure I have proper kinematics and that I don't increase my mileage too quickly seems to be the best path forward.

Verhagen, E. “Prevention of Running-Related Injuries in Novice Runners: Are We Running on Empty?” British Journal of Sports Medicine 46.12 (2012): 836–837. Web.