Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stress fracture summary and first day of marathon training

Yesterday was the first day of Detroit Marathon training. The race is 18 weeks away, and I was really concerned about not being able to train for it due to my stress fracture. Here is a recap of the whole injury:

December 7: I ran 12 miles, and I was sure I had tendonitis afterward. My foot and ankle area was really painful during the last half of the run. Took a couple of days off.

December 14: Santa Hustle Half Marathon. Everything felt fine until around mile 6 or 7 of the race. It started with that same "tendonitis" pain. The road was really slanted, and that made the pain worse. I was limping for the last three miles of the race, and hobbled across the finish line. My leg hurt from my foot to my hip. I took five days off afterward.

December 21-January 4: Continued to run (about 3-4 miles each time), just taking it easy on my leg, still thinking I had tendonitis. The pain wasn't bad, and it just felt like a mild soreness, particularly on my calf.

January 4: Ran 5 miles and definitely felt the pain getting worse. Decided to take time off and wait until the pain was gone completely before starting to run again. I started doing deep water running, which has zero impact, so it was safe to do while my leg healed.

February 3: Still having pain, so decided to go to a podiatrist to rule out something serious, like a stress fracture. X-ray showed that it was a stress fracture in my lower left fibula. I was really surprised! I assumed a stress fracture would keep me from walking, but I only had pain when running or jumping. Doctor said no running until the pain is gone, and sent me on my way.

February 23: Eleven weeks after the initial pain, I went for a 3-mile run. Felt a couple of normal twinges, but no pain at all.

February 23-April 9: Continued to run, following an easy half-marathon training schedule for the Indy Mini. No problems at all, and even the twinges went away. Felt back to normal.

April 9: Started a five-mile run on the treadmill. About 20 steps in, I felt a sharp pain where the stress fracture was. I assumed it was just another twinge from the healing process (or maybe I was just in denial) and I finished out the five miles. But I made an appointment with a sports medicine orthopedist the follow day.

April 10: Saw Dr. Shehab, who ordered x-rays and a bone scan. He told me not to run until I didn't have any pain. He suggested doing more low-impact exercises to stay in shape, and if I wanted, I could run the Indy Mini. But no running until then. He also ordered a gait analysis with a physical therapist.

April 15: Had a bone scan, which is much more involved than a simple x-ray. The bone scan confirmed that I had another stress fracture.

April 26: I decided to attempt the marathon relay leg of the Glass City Marathon, knowing that if I couldn't do that, there was no way I could do the Indy Mini the following weekend. I made it through the six-mile leg of the relay, but was in pain afterward. Decided not to do Indy. Still no running.

May 6: Went for a gait analysis with Dave Tomsich. He determined that my left side (particularly my hip) is very weak, which causes my gait to be asymmetrical. I underpronate (supinate), which isn't good. My knee also buckles inward on the left side, which puts pressure on the fibula. The goal with physical therapy is to strengthen my left side so that I am symmetrical when I run and walk.

May 6-current: Seeing Dave every two weeks for physical therapy. He gives me exercises to do at home, which I've been working on. On Thursday, he told me that I could go ahead and start training for Detroit, with a few stipulations: I can't run two days in a row, I have to run/walk, and if I have pain, I need to stop.

Which brings me to yesterday--the first day of Detroit Marathon training.

My original plan was to do the Hansons Marathon Method again. I used that plan to train for Chicago, and it was AWESOME. I felt fantastic and stayed injury free. However, after the stress fracture, I knew that wouldn't be the right plan for me. It requires 40-50 miles per week of running, and since I haven't run much in the last six months, I knew that many miles would do more harm than good.

Coming off of a stress fracture, I decided that the best plan would be Jeff Galloway's run/walk method: completing the entire distance by doing a particular ratio of running and walking. The problem is, Jeff Galloway's plan is 30 weeks long, and I have 18 weeks until race day. When I was at the book store recently, I was flipping through his marathon training book, and he actually mentions training for a marathon with much less than 30 weeks notice. He said a seasoned runner could even do a marathon using his method with just six weeks notice.

I ultimately decided to follow his basic plan, but to change the long runs to build up faster. It's actually pretty simple:

Monday- 30 minute run/walk
Wednesday- 30 minute run/walk
Thursday- easy walk
Friday- long run/walk (his plan builds up to 26 miles, but he said that isn't necessary; I've modified mine to 22).

This plan is basically the complete opposite of Hansons, which makes me nervous! But, I'm going to give it a good honest try and see what happens. Because I'll be doing the run/walk method, I think I'll have the best chance of avoiding injury (as long as I don't do too much, and since this has just three runs per week, it's the minimum required for a marathon). I also plan to continue my strength exercises to keep from getting injured again, of course.

For the marathon, my ideal ratio of running to walking is a two-minute run followed by a thirty-second walk. To ease back into running, though, I decided to go with a one-minute run and thirty-second walk yesterday for my first training run. I'll add a little running each week until I hit two minutes.

My first run/walk went really well! I started by walking for 90 seconds, and then I went into the 60 second run and 30 second walk routine. I was very surprised at how hard it felt--I've gotten SO out of shape the last six months. The running portions seemed like they lasted forever, but the walking segments flew by. My heart rate was much higher than it used to be when I was running (even at a hard pace).

It was fun to look at the stats when I was done, though. I downloaded a new app that has more information, charts, and graphs than I would know what to do with; but I love looking at all the numbers. (The app is called ConnectStats, and if you're a data nerd like I am, you'll love it! It's an iPhone/iPad activity viewer for Garmin Connect or Strava)

I love the heart rate chart--you can see exactly where each of my run/walk intervals were. Anyway, I won't post all that info for each run I do, but I was just impressed with all the data available--it has much more than Garmin Connect has.

Over all, I am very happy with how the run/walk went. My leg didn't give me any issues, which was most important. And it was a much harder workout than I expected it to be! I like that I was only focused on each minute, rather than the run as a whole. I'm actually looking forward to marathon training with the Galloway method!


  1. How did you remember to start and stop at those intervals? Did you use an app or simply a stopwatch?

    1. There is a run/walk setting on my Garmin, so it beeped at the intervals I set. Very convenient!

  2. That's it, I'm moving to where you live. Total elevation gain of 9 feet?! What a dream! (Except your winters sound miserable.)

    1. Yes, when I say it's pancake flat here, I mean it! ;)

  3. I'm so happy for you that your run went well! I do run/walk intervals (still working up to running a mile without walking), and I don't know what I'd do without the interval feature on my Garmin (I have the 220)!

  4. GIRL! Way to keep pushing through. I love your great attitude. I read the whole thing and am hopeful that it is now BEHIND you. As always, so inspiring! Is it hard to start running again after the walking periods?

  5. I just recently started using a run / walk combo in order to increase my speed. So far I am loving it! I always thought it was "cheating" or somehow didn't count if you walked while running, but I realize that I can achieve a faster overall pace this way. I've boosted my overall pace up by nearly 1.5 minutes per mile in a week or so!

  6. Your review of Hansons is what initially got me interested in the program. I got the book in the middle of half marathon training so didn't follow the actual plan but did incorporate lots of aspects, like very slow easy runs and more mileage. It was the best training I've ever done! I'm very interested to hear what you think of the Galloway program and how it compares to Hansons.

  7. Yay!!! Your first run back went well!!!!!

  8. So glad you're able to run again! It's hard coming back from an injury. I've been dealing with plantar fasciitis for the last 6 weeks or so. I've been spending a ton of time on my mountain bike - zero impact. I rode 14 miles this morning in 93 minutes, with over 1700' elevation gain and burned 850 calories! I know you've ridden some, so you might try riding on your walk days instead just to give your leg a complete break from any impact.


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