Training for a Marathon post-injury
July 27, 2014 3:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm registered for the Chicago Marathon this October (in 11 weeks) . It'll be my first race running this far. I also bruised the hell out of my heel 2 weeks ago. Now that I can run again, how do I adjust my training plan?

I had been training to Hal Higdon's advanced Marathon plan. When I fell and hurt myself, I've taken 2 weeks off from running while it recovers. It appears after a painless mile run today to test it that it's recovered enough to start training again. So while I obviously need to pay attention to my heal as I'm running, what's the best way to get back on track, keeping the healing injury in mind, but also trying to make up for lost time?
posted by garlic to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depends. What is your running history? What are your goals? How was the plan going before you were injured? Are you cleared by your PT to run again at the same intensity and volume?

Two weeks is a long time to take off in an 18 week plan. I would scrap the idea of staying on the advanced plan and pick up Intermediate 2 on whatever week you should be on now. At the first sign of injury or pain back off.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:54 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Hal Higdon Advanced plan starts out at 26 miles a week plus speedwork with only one rest day. Would you consider using a less aggressive training schedule? Even if you have extensive running experience, Higdon doesn't suggest you start out with the advanced program unless you've finished a race at that distance before.

Maybe try his advanced first-timer suggestion of the Novice 2 plan? (or as roomthreeseventeen says, an Intermediate plan maybe) If you've been running at the Advanced volume, jumping in at week 7 shouldn't be any trouble. If it doesn't feel hard enough, I'd try to push pace. Reducing volume is a pretty sure way to reduce your chances of injury.
posted by hollyholly at 4:09 PM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Temper your expectations. At this point your goal should be to run and finish the race. Do not over train. The best thing you can do now is to make sure that you don't re-injure yourself.
posted by unreasonable at 5:33 PM on July 27, 2014

As I've gotten heavier and older I've found that subbing my short runs is helpful for injury prevention. I use Hal's plans, but drop one of the midweek runs for either pool running or swimming. As I get to the end of the training schedule once the long runs are more than 15 miles I sub a short run for a spin class.

I just can't run Hal's advanced plan without an injury. If you're already injured, then look for non or low impact cross training for midweek. You want to do your long run which may mean making trade-off on the mid-week workouts.
posted by 26.2 at 6:46 PM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try subbing some of the runs (short or long) with a rowing workout at the same distance. Pacing for running and pacing for rowing tend to be very similar for most people.
posted by astapasta24 at 8:52 PM on July 27, 2014

Let me suggest this as a supplement to the program you're doing. Some slow trail running would be a good way to ease in. Every other day for the first week, aqua jog. If you've no pain after that first week, slow miles on trails with easy strideouts afterward. Like 5-6 100m at 5k race pace with 90 seconds rest. Do those on soccer fields.

Key: don't push it. If it hurts, go back to aqua jogging for a few days. You won't lose fitness that way, and your injury will heal. Also, a ton of icing.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:15 AM on July 28, 2014

Best answer: The best way to "make up for lost time" is to ease back into your training until your body can handle it and then just keep doing what you're doing. Peak performance depends more on your mindset than anything else. Take it from me--a runner who used to be good for about one missed-time injury a year until he worked more days off into his schedule--your body probably needed that extra rest.
posted by Mr. Fig at 3:25 AM on July 28, 2014

Response by poster: a couple follow ups --

1) I injured myself falling off a stool in a fight with a smoke alarm, not running (though it is possible that heavy training made my heal more prone to injury).

2) I've been doing spring training to already be in good shape for the Advanced Program. While I haven't raced this distance before, I've done several 13 mile races.

3) I ran 3 miles today, going progressively faster and felt really good doing it. So while it still feels slightly weird, it's not causing any pains in this relatively short runs.

One of the problems I keep having with running training is that you can try too hard. That's not really a thing I've run into with other things I've worked on getting better at. Last year using a heart rate monitor to force myself to run slower was pretty amazing, but as part of that, I started also running for longer durations. So now looking at the training schedule that Higdon suggests looks like a piece of cake (except for the last few looooong runs). I'll stick with the shorter distances to help prevent injury at this point.
posted by garlic at 2:21 PM on July 28, 2014

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