Running on Empty
December 27, 2008 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Running Filter: I have signed up for half a marathon coming up at the end of January. I also signed up for a running group which helps you train for the half a marathon. I have missed about 60 precent of the running sessions. With the marathon less than a month away, I need some help getting ready for it.

I have a few questions about this run coming up, so I will try and break them down in an organized fashions.

Pertaining info:

I am in good shape. The running sessions that I have been able to go, I have done distances of 8 miles, 10 miles, 11 miles. So have been getting close to the goal of 13.1 miles. I have made the last four sessions (have made about 6 of the total 12). Today I had to quit at 3.5 miles for reasons coming up.

I did get fitted for shoes at the local running store.

I do lift weights on my own (3 times a week), but haven't been running on my own other than the long runs once a week with the running group. When I first signed up for it, I was doing short runs on my own during the week but haven’t been doing it in the past 6 weeks.

Due to being constantly late for my runs, I have a tendency not to stretch before the long runs, though I always stretch after.


1. My first long distance run of 10 miles, I had excruciating knee pain. I iced my knees right after the run, and the pain did go away after about a day and was back to normal. This has been the case every time I have done long distances since then. After this I have made it a point to get good leg workouts. I need help in figuring out

a. If there are other things I can do to minimize the pain and soreness?
b. Any specific leg exercises I can do to strengthen that part of my body.

2. The last three times I have done long distances, I have gotten shin splints, and swollen ankles, and pain at the bottom of my feet. This pain has started probably on the my second mile the last time I ran and persisted for the whole run. After icing the area, it did feel better but didn’t disappear for a few days.

a. Is there a reason that my ankles and shin splints would start hurting now? (Since this has been the case in my last two runs only)

b. Any exercises or precautions I can take to make sure this doesn't happen?

c. Could these be my shoes? I got fitted for the shoes, but people seem to think this could be the culprit.

3. How much can stretching and not stretching be part of the problem?

Since the marathon is only a month away, what would you recommend I do to make sure I can make this run in the least amount of pain and the most amount of comfort? Exercises, tips and tricks, food technique and running schedule help will all be appreciated :)

Thank you in advance
posted by boyinmiami to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
one last question to add: How do I figure out if I am suffering from Iliotibial band syndrome (IBS)?
posted by boyinmiami at 1:12 PM on December 27, 2008

The short runs are important. You're in pain because you're not doing the work of getting your body ready for the long runs. Just doing one long run a week — is that all you're doing? I can't tell — is putting too much stress on your body, and that's why it hurts. It could be that your shoes are part of the problem, but there's a much more obvious problem. If you weren't getting shin splints at first but you are now, that's pretty much the classic sign that you're just plain not ready for the distances you're trying to do.

You need to do the shorter runs during the week, and see if those are hurting you as much as the long runs. If they are, then you have problems that are probably going to keep you from safely running a half-marathon in a month, because you're really injured. If it's just the long runs that hurt, then take a week off and do all the short runs for awhile before you try another long run. (Also, you don't need to have run 13.1 miles before you actually run the half-marathon. I ran my first half-marathon following a program that worked up to 10 miles as the longest run.)

Speaking from personal experience, don't push yourself if you're hurting. I tried to run a half-marathon once without doing the hard work of training before hand — mostly skipping the shorter runs — and got an injury that kept me from running for over a year. You might need to sit this half-marathon out, and you should start considering that as an option and mentally preparing yourself for potential disappointment.

My personal experience with ITBS, by the way, is that my knees often don't hurt while I'm actually running, but I can barely walk later in the day. Concentrate on stretching your IT band and see if it helps a bit, but you have a lot of other issues besides potential ITBS that you need to be worried about too. Seeing a sports medicine doctor was very helpful for me in terms of diagnosing and treating ITBS, as well as correcting for other body mechanical issues that were affecting my stride.
posted by adiabat at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2008

I ran a half marathon earlier this year after training with Team in Training. I wasn't able to make all of the training runs, but I agree that the shorter maintenance runs during the week are really important -- I found it easier if I manager a couple of 3 mile runs in between the longer runs.

You must stretch both at the beginning (run about a mile and then stretch) and then afterwards.

After the long runs (anything over 5 miles), I found that ice baths greatly reduced my recovery time. While they sound horrific, they really do the trick. After your run, spend a goodly amount of time stretching. Once you've cooled down run a bath with cold water, add ice and then sit in water deep enough to cover your hips for 8 - 12 minutes (I would wear a fleece jacket and drink a hot cup of tea).
posted by heather at 9:18 PM on December 27, 2008

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