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MCM Training: Week 14: Decision Time

I gave myself a deadline of this past weekend to decide whether I would try to run the marathon, now 20 days away, or forgo it in favor of more recovery. After a week of more concerted therapy efforts, more rest, and lots of reflection, I've decided to go to DC and "do" the marathon. Whether that means running, walking, or a combination of both, I feel confident I'll be able to finish within the time limit and, more important, not further injure myself.

Throughout most of the day Saturday, I was almost certain I would not go. I was feeling the same sort of background pain in my calf, in addition to other pains in my body--right IT band, left piriformis, right back-of-knee, achy shoulders--and I felt like my body might never feel good again. I was pretty despondent, despite getting to spend the day with my sister, mom, and niece. In fact, I've noticed an increase in depressive symptoms during the past week, in particular, even though I've tried my best to prepare for them and combat them. But then, after I came home Saturday evening, I got ready to go out for a long walk--something I'd had yet to do during my injury, partly because I felt ashamed that I couldn't run and partly because I was afraid I might still feel pain.

But once I got out there, I felt good and was able to walk briskly from the start. I'd set my Garmin watch to "other" sport (apparently walking is not sporty enough for a default setting), and the default measures were time, distance, and speed, while a running setting would have pace instead of speed. This is significant in that, seeing my average walking speed of 4.5 miles per hour, I was able to easily calculate the projected time it would take me to walk 26 miles at that pace. I didn't come up with the exact number of 5.777... hours, but I knew I'd be able to do it in under 6 hours, and many marathons have a cut-off time of 6 hours. And only then did it occur to me that I could walk this entire marathon. I'm sure I'm not the only one to do it. There's a whole category of speed walkers who intentionally train to compete in speed walking--and they do it much faster than I can even run. But that's beside the point. The point is that I found renewed hope. And after walking for 5.5 miles, I was feeling good enough (and curious enough) to try to run. So I began a light jog and was pleased to find that, while the pain was still there, it was much less pronounced than when I'd run on the treadmill only four days earlier.

When I got home, I looked up the marathon cut-off time, and, rather than having an overall time, they require that participants maintain a minimum pace of 14 minutes per mile. Well, I completed my 6 miles in 80 minutes, which comes out to a 13.333... pace. This means that, even if I do have to walk the whole marathon, I can still complete it under pace, as long as I maintain the 4.5 mph speed (or 13.33 pace). And yes, I had to become a mathematician to figure all of this out.

The even better news is that I didn't feel ruined the next day. My leg didn't hurt any worse--except my outer shins, which I knew would be sore from the power walking that I wasn't accustomed to doing. I'm still reluctant to go out for a run, but I think I'll do some more speed walking this week with a couple of running trials to see how I feel. Going forward, the biggest obstacle is going to be endurance. I haven't really maintained the kind of endurance I'll need for the marathon, so I'll have to walk a fine line of amping up endurance efforts while still healing my leg in the next three weeks.


Deedra Hickman said…
Nothing wrong with walking...just ask Jeff Galloway!

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