Pre-Marathon Update

Two weeks ago I ran a 10k race and really suffered for it. The ongoing problem with my tibialis posterior flared up leaving me in a lot of discomfort and a lot of worry about whether or not I would be able to run the Edinburgh marathon. Just hours after setting a new 10k PB, a time when I should have been elated, I was in tears thinking I had destroyed all chance of running the marathon and continuing my challenge. Steve kept telling me it would be fine, but amid my predictions of doom and general over-reacting of diva proportions, I found this very difficult to believe. It was time for someone else to step in. It was time for The Professionals.

First up : The Physio. Immediately after the race I had two days working away from home. I taped my leg to give it a bit of support and was able to rest quite a lot which was good. I did begin to feel a slight improvement and by the middle of the week when I saw my physio I was walking much more comfortably. The good news was that I could still run the race (with the expectation of being more uncomfortable than usual afterwards), the bad news was that there was to be ABSOLUTELY NO RUNNING until then. Yes, that would be 2 full weeks without running. Good thing I had reached my taper and didn’t need to train! She did say I was allowed to swim or use the bike (basically anything that wasn’t weight bearing) but with a heavy workload of exam marking, in many ways I was happy to take the time off. I was given some ultrasound treatment to help everything to settle down, had the leg re-taped and was advised to use ibuprofen/ice/cold gel as necessary to keep any inflammation down as well as staying off my feet as much as possible. A short-term fix to get me round the marathon, but in the long term we need to find out what’s causing this injury to recur. Step in The Podiatrist…

A week after my physio appointment I turned up for my first ever appointment with a podiatrist. My physio had called him in advance to discuss everything that was happening and the treatment plan so far. Almost as soon as I arrived the podiatrist told me had a pretty good idea of what was going on, but needed to run through some tests to confirm. I had to do all the usual things you might expect from a physio assessment or gait analysis: stand, bend my knees, get up on tiptoes, squat, have my ankle/foot twisted around in various directions and use a treadmill barefoot with my feet/lower legs being filmed as well as discussing my usual training load and looking at my current running shoes. A lot of this had been done by my physio, but I was pleased that the podiatrist was being so thorough.

In the past, I have often been told that I “over pronate” i.e. that my foot rolls in too much when I walk/run. I don’t always hold with this as the foot is supposed to pronate and there is no definitive guide on how much pronation is too much. I used to wear really supportive running shoes designed to stop over pronation, but still got injured, probably because the shoes were preventing my foot moving in the way it wanted to, which surely can’t be a good thing. What the podiatrist explained is that my feet pronate for too long. After rolling in (pronation) the foot should roll out again (supination) as you toe off. At this point in the cycle my foot is still rolling in, so my ankle looks “buckled” and my tibialis posterior has to work extra hard to combat this, hence my recurring injury. Thankfully, the podiatrist agrees with me about pronation and supportive shoes, however he did recommend that my beloved pink Brooks Pure Flow shoes should be kept for shorter distances and that I wear a more “traditional” shoe with a bit of cushioning for longer runs. This does not, however, need to be a stability shoe, a neutral shoe such as the Brooks Ghost pair I have (but not run in much) will be fine and I have inserts to wear to help give a little extra support to my arches and keep the foot from continuing to roll in to the point it does at the moment. I can’t start using these shoes and inserts until after the marathon (as I haven’t trained in them) and even then it will take 2 or 3 weeks to build up and get used to them, but at least there is a longer term solution now which should see me free of the problem very quickly.

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The following day I was due back with The Physio to fill her in on the result and have a final pre-marathon ultrasound treatment. Since my leg was so much more settled, she was able to do a little light massage on the tib post as well and gave me some advice to help it recover and settle down as soon as possible after the marathon. Suddenly, I had the green light to go ahead after possibly the worst taper EVER! Fortunately, I had also had my pre-race tune-up from that other very important professional, The Sports Massage Therapist so theoretically I was good to go!

So now I find myself sitting in a hotel room in Edinburgh contemplating what lies ahead tomorrow. This morning I cheered Steve on as he began his challenge with the 10k race then joined him in the 5k (which I jogged around as planned, finishing in 31:55 – the perfect warm up).

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My leg did niggle a bit, but settled quickly as soon as I stopped running which is a definite improvement from a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow it will be freshly (and firmly!) taped to provide as much support as possible and hopefully it won’t bother me too much while I’m on the course. That said, I have certainly proved my tenacity before and am prepared for discomfort.

The strange thing is, although intellectually I know that I have 26.2 miles to run tomorrow, in reality this information doesn’t seem to have sunk in. I’ve been so preoccupied with getting my leg fit to run, that I’ve not really given the race itself any thought and suspect the reality won’t hit me until I get underway tomorrow. At the moment it still sounds like some kind of dream. In the meantime I’m keeping hydrated and looking forward to my carb-loading later on – yum!

As for time, I really have no target this time. Originally I had hoped to run faster than in Paris (4:05:07) but after everything that has happened recently, I know that the last thing I need is to put myself under any pressure and am just going to take things as they come. The result will be what it will be and I will simply be delighted to make it round in (more or less) one piece then have a bit of rest and recovery time to let my body repair. Fingers crossed that I don’t suffer too much.

See you on the other side!
The Running Princess

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4 thoughts on “Pre-Marathon Update

  1. What a nightmare, Allison! I suppose the one good thing that’s come out of this is that you now know a lot more about what’s causing your injury and how to keep it in check in future. That said, tomorrow will almost certainly cause it to flare up again, possibly big time…! I know you are doing this for a challenge, but your health is more important than anything else. Please, please take it easy. I will be very cross with you indeed if you don’t run/walk a spectacular personal worst tomorrow…

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    • Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything stupid (apart from run a marathon that’s bound to cause an injury to flare up!). If I need to walk, I’ll walk – it wouldn’t be the first time! I’ll have a post-race massage and both the ibuprofen and ice gel will be in my bag. If I need it, I can go to the physio for further ultrasound to help it settle next week. I’ve had tough marathons before and we all know that anything can happen on the day, even when training has been great, so I’ll just take it as it comes.

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