Looking back, I have never really had the opportunity to get the “taper crazies”. My old ways of training consisted of me ramping up mileage over the last 6-8 weeks of a training cycle, so I needed those few weeks to continue my training and basically “train through” my race. The last race I properly trained for (Grandma’s Marathon 2016) was a different type of training cycle where I did my last 20 miler 2 weeks before the marathon, and arguably didn’t have a true taper over the next two weeks leading into the race. I figured this was my first chance at a real taper, but that weirdly exciting milestone was overshadowed by a 3-week-taper turned 4-week-injury-rehab.
I’ve had the best training cycle of my life, and that is what I’m holding onto as I do everything in my power to fend off this knee injury (chondromalacia patellae) before the race. I’m not focusing on what was lost, I’m focusing on the work I’ve put in to get here. I mean, I ran a 22 miler on my treadmill, and honestly thought the miles flew by! I did an “easy 20 miler” at an 8:35 pace. Honestly, I was feeling great this entire cycle. I went to Hermosa Beach, CA for work, so I figured I’d do my 18 mile long run on the strand along the beach. Three miles into the run I I started getting sharp pain in my knee of which was all too familiar, as it was the same pain that took me out for 3 months back in 2016.
I was cleaning up my desktop on my work computer (I had too many file icons that were ultimately covering my daughter’s face, so I wanted to clean it up!) and found my initial intake form that I filled out when I first started training with Becki. It was the best thing I could have read to give me confidence moving into this marathon. I told her that my biggest barrier was my mental game, as I always tend to psych myself out on long runs over 14 miles. I also said that I’ve never toed a line at a marathon confident that I can reach my goals. WHAT? Who was that runner!? Today, a 14 mile run is a “quick and easy run”, and I’ve never been so excited and confident in my training and abilities moving into a race. You guys, I’m ready. Now, I just need to get my knee in a place where it is meeting me at the starting line. And I’m trying everything. I’m literally throwing everything and the kitchen sink at this thing:
- Cortisone shot – the last time I had a flair up from this injury was before Marquette Marathon, where I ultimately had to DNF due to the pain. After the marathon, I received a set of hyaluronic acid shots, which really helped. This time my orthopedic specialist gave me a cortisone shot in hopes that it would be more immediate and more powerful to just get me through the race. I don’t think it has done much, but I’ll take any extra help at this point.
- ART at a chiropractor – I have a long-time friend who is arguably the most amazing chiropractor on Earth, Adam Millsop. He is my go-to resource when I have an injury and need a quick fix, and in my experience, those injuries always seem to happen a few weeks before the race. He practices Active Release Therapy (ART), which speeds recovery and focuses on the kinetic chain, rather than just the site of the injury. When I had psoas issues before a race in 2012, I swear the only reason I was able to toe the line was because of the magic (also called the hurts-so-good-pain) he was able to work on me to get my muscles ready to race. He is an athlete and competitor as well, so he gets it! He will also give you exercises to do to strengthen the muscles and supporting muscles to ensure the injury doesn’t just keep coming back.
- Cross training – Cross training is my MO these days. I’ve spent an hour and a half swimming laps in a pool, spent hours on a bike (either stationary at the gym or outside), hours of elliptical work to fill the weeks between the “long effort” workouts on the weekends, and I don’t even know how many reps of quad, hip and hamstring strengthening I’ve done. I don’t love the gym atmosphere. When I run on my treadmill, I run in my basement with Netflix in front of me. When I do strength, it is in my basement with nothing but my music surrounding me. The gym is just a hot bubble of heat with nothing to look at but CNN on the tv in front of you. But, if I have a chance of sustaining my fitness to be able to show up on race day, I’ve gotta do it!
- Collagen Peptides Supplement – I’ve been reading about joint health and how to prevent pain and/or keep your joints healthy, and collagen supplements keep coming up. Since I have nothing to lose, I am taking a scoop every morning. Collagen is supposedly a “tasteless supplement that dissolves completely in water/liquid”. I don’t know if I’m just using the wrong kind of collagen (I’ve tried two), but it is certainly not tasteless, and there are inevitably chunks left at the bottom of the cup that induce gagging every time. I chug the cocktail over the sink every morning, rotating between plugging my nose while I drink it and biting into a banana to take away the aftertaste. it is horrible, but yet I do it every morning for the potential health benefits. If you have a brand of collagen that you think is truly tasteless, please let me know!
- RICE – This one is an obvious one. I’m icing it every second I can, elevating it and I’ve rested it more than I wanted to (maybe that feeling is similar to the taper crazies!?). I even sleep with a pillow under my leg every night to get it up in the air when I’m doing nothing else but resting. Oh, and let’s also mention that I’ve purchased 4 different types of ice packs and multiple types of tape, knee wraps, and other first aid type supplies in an effort to find something/anything that gives relief.
I don’t know what will happen on race day, but I do know that I am still confident going into this race that even with not running over the last month before the race, I think my fitness, my drive, and my desire for that BQ can get me to where I need to be on race day. I just need my knee to cooperate on May 6th!