Thursday, March 24, 2011

Injury v. Performance

A little over 24 days until the Boston Marathon, and I gotta admit ... I'm worn out!  My legs are pretty beat up and ready for a much over-due break.  So far in 2011 I've racked up more than 700 miles, finished 7 long runs of 20 miles or more including 28 & 25 mile jobs, ran the Austin Marathon, and continued weight training ... and it's not even April yet! 

Of course I'm looking forward to our journey to Massachusetts, but after the race I'm also planning on taking a week or two off from running to fully recover ... and I'm almost as excited about the rest.  I just wanna get completely healthy for a while - and I'll need it.  I intend on setting a PR in June at the Fargo Marathon, and then I'll start getting ready for a back-to-back test in October with the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday, and the Des Moines Marathon the next day.

Now this issue of health is something we all deal with daily.  And I guess the question always becomes "How far can you push yourself without injury?"  I know there are a few doctors who stop by this blog occasionally and I can probably guess what their take would be on over-training and rest ... safe and sane opinions to be sure.  I'm not saying I'm "PRO" damaging your body ... but it seems like there is very fine line between over-training to the point of injury, and squeezing out every last ounce of performance. 

Even with all the all miles I've put on this year, overall I feel tired, but pretty healthy! Like everyone, I deal with a few nagging pains here and there. Nothing serious, mostly a sore left ankle that I fear could turn into a stress fracture, and two light bouts of tendonitis in different areas around my knee.  But as an athlete, I don't want to leave anything on the training table.  I don't want to stand at the starting line at a big races this summer wishing I had done more.  But that's just it ... I wanna be standing at the starting line, not laid up in bed somewhere nursing a broken bone or something.

As I'm often reminded on this blog, (both by myself and others) it's not just about running fast, but I do have a couple of speed related goals for later this year.  And the older I get these formulas seem to hold true...
train more = more soreness = potential injury = faster races
train less = feel better = healthier body = slower times

I just wish there was a simple formula where "x" number of miles and rest equal a certain finishing time.  But it really seems to be an ongoing process of figuring out how much pain your body can handle, without completely tipping the scale and breaking your body.  I dunno???  Back to lab I guess!
... be great today!


  1. Let me know when you figure this formula out because I really could use it!

  2. When you figure out that formula, you will be rich!

    I read once that every body has a "breaking" point, ie: a mileage point that they can't really cross. Figuring it out is a fine science, for sure.

  3. There have been studies that show that increasing mileage past a certain point results in few performance gains but ups the chance of injury. That point is different for each person, so you just have to experiment.

  4. Good post. I've found it to be a fine line between training hard & overtraining. Program design, rest day, getting enough sleep & calories are all factors too. Sounds like you are doing a great job! Keep on, keeping on!

  5. there's such a fine line between the two and that line changes with age as if you didn't know.
    So excited for you these last weeks pre-Boston! The hay is in the barn!

  6. I gotta say, Jim, I can't exactly relate to this level of dedication!! I'm still a relative novice to running, and can't seem to pull the trigger on signing up for any actual races. What you've done so far this year is amazing, and I can't believe you're going to be running two marathons back-to-back (something my little novice runner brain cannot comprehend). But, reading about all you do and what you're working towards is inspiring and makes me want to go farther and faster! Keep up the good work and take care of yourself!

  7. Seriously - you are amazing - back to back marathons... I could barely run one much less 2 in 48 hours

  8. Better standing at the start line with doubts than no standing at all. As long as you are recovering from your sessions and seeing improvement, I would be happy. Remember, if it hurts on both sides it is training soreness – one side injury soreness.

    I cannot wait to meet you in Boston! What pace are you planning on running?

  9. Just be careful with that fine line. It is hard to know when to pull back a little until it is to late. Boston here you come. Just wanted to let you know I posted on your sticker today. BE GREAT TODAY.

  10. Isnt it about taper time? At least some relief and rest is coming for the legs.

  11. Great post! I totally agree with everything here, and people's comments. I'm with Christi - let me know when you figure out the formula! As someone who is dealing with slight injuries right now, it really sucks to even have to think about an injury - all you want to do is be healthy and run.

    Personally I think you could set a PR at Boston if you wanted to, but I realize that you have another marathon 2 weeks later at Oklahoma City. But you are in amazing shape right now.

  12. Not sure why I didn't see this before- but my husband and I are running Fargo as well! We should eet up at the expo for a blogger-friend pic!
    Let me know when you figure out the perfect formula... you'll be a rich man when that happens! All I know is that you seem to be doing well. Listen to your body. :)

  13. Everyone is different. I'd think it's safe to say that you train more than enough. You're times are probably in the top 10% of all recreational runners and that's fast! As I go through my training, I'm finding that while I love setting PR's*who doesn't), I think that the way I'm starting to measure my success is more about how I feel when the event is over. If I finish strong, meaning feeling decent(and healthy), I'm happy about that. Why risk injury over a little faster time(like I almost did this past week)? Of course, this is coming from a guy that is much slower than you and many others out there. If I were to run Boston, which I think is very fast runners, I'd be happy I could go that fast without injury.

  14. I would like a magic ball that would say, "Okay, Andrea, take a few days off now because you are about to get injured." I never know and all of a sudden- bam! It's too late, the injury is there.

    I now train one less day a week, knock on wood that will do it.


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