42at40 weeks twelve and thirteen: challenges accepted?

Sorry for the silence over the last couple of weeks. It’s been hectic! I’m currently finishing up a certificate program at Ryerson and I’ve had a lot of papers and projects to complete over the last few weeks.

Let’s be clear here: I knew this was going to be a huge challenge when it came to my training plan. Peak week hit at exactly the same time as several huge assignments in both of my classes.

VO2 Max is improving: it's at 43 according to my garmin
My VO2 Max is improving! I guess all that running is doing something…

I just didn’t account for dealing with an injury and some other things in my personal life at the same time. Ugh.

So yes, it’s my knee acting up again. Let’s recap where we’re at.

Two weeks ago I was feeling really good, and back on track with my training plan. I did a short run on the Tuesday, followed by a 29km long run on the Wednesday.

That Wednesday run was pretty brutal! It was a day with really bizarre weather. One minute it would be beautiful and sunny, the next, raining and windy. Then hailing and windy! Then back to sunny… you all get the idea. But I persevered and got it done. I had to take a few bio-breaks along the way, but that’s how it goes sometimes, and honestly, I didn’t really care. I still ran 29km in some nasty weather.

Sunny lakeshore of Toronto with the CN Tower in the background
During one of the sunny moments! I didn’t take photos in the hail or rain… too windy and I had to just keep going.

I then took two days off and ran a fun but very hilly race, Race Roster Spring Runoff. I’ve done it nearly every year since I moved to Toronto, and find it a great way to open the season.

However, after the race, my legs were pretty angry at me. To make matters a bit worse, I had tickets to Zoe Keating that evening, and given I missed her the last time she was through Toronto, I really didn’t want to miss this show! But sadly – even though she’s a cello artist and almost never plays shows without seating – it was a standing-room-only show, which meant I spent another 2.5 hours standing on legs that really should have been resting. Things only got worse on Sunday when I went out for an 8k post-race shakeout. Lots of sharp knee/quad pain on that run.

The next day – Monday of this past week for those keeping track – I got in to see my physio and we did a bunch of work on the area. He confirmed it’s not anything serious, just biomechanics and some muscles overworking because others are not functioning well at the moment. I left feeling much better after the treatment.

However, the following day, which was to be day one of peak week, I started out to do my 1hour easy run and got really bad knee pain 25 minutes in. Usually, when that happens I’m ok after slowing down for a moment… my body works through it and I’m fine to keep going. But not this time. This time it felt like my leg was going to buckle, so I called it quits at 45 minutes and hobbled home, pretty upset.

It didn’t get any better by the next day, so I knew I was in serious trouble. Going up or down the stairs was difficult, and aches in my legs kept me up at night. So I had to make the very hard choice to toss out my entire planned week of runs, including the 32km long run I had planned for today.

That said… I am on the mend. Having three full rest days (Wednesday through Friday) did a world of good for my legs, and by Saturday I felt confident enough to do an easy-paced 10km run. That wasn’t 100% pain-free, but it felt so much better than Tuesday’s run had.

Today, my legs are achy, but it’s more of a DOMS feeling from yesterday’s run, or like my quads are still in need of rest after all those hills from last weekend. It’s tolerable and I’m confident it will be much better tomorrow.

So that’s where we’re at. Peak week was supposed to be over 60km logged, but instead I didn’t even hit 20. Frustrating, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.

My legs, wearing compression socks and next to a foam roller
Some of my best friends right now… compression socks, yoga mats and foam rollers

Tomorrow my taper time was supposed to begin, but I’ve decided that for my mental game I really need one more long run. Providing my legs aren’t feeling too bad by Tuesday morning, I plan to go out and do at least 29km again, and up to 32 if it feels like my legs can handle it. I’ll wear my more compressive gear (that’s been helping my legs a ton!) for the run, and I’ll go extra slow, keeping my pace at the slowest end of my prescribed paces for long runs. It’s not about speed here, it’s about getting the distance in and knowing I can do it. I’ll even take short walk breaks if I have to. But I won’t be stupid about it either… if my knee really starts to act up again like it did this past Tuesday, I’ll bail and take public transit home. I’ve cleared my personal schedule for Tuesday so there will be little to no distractions and no pressure to be somewhere or do something else that day.

After what I hope will be a good long run Tuesday, I’ll then begin my taper. I’m planning to adjust things to give my legs more rest before the race in three weeks without them getting too rusty. We’ll see how things go. I’m confident I can run and finish the full marathon, it’s just a matter of how much these blips will affect my time. And in the end, I don’t really care that much about time… because no matter what the clock says, I’ll have completed a marathon.