The (forced) super taper
It’s crazy how fast things can change. One moment I’m getting really excited to race and the next I’m wondering if I’ll even make it to the start line.
Throughout the first three months this year my training has been better than expected. On Monday (March 30) I had a fantastic session feeling as good as I ever have. And then on April 1st I twisted my ankle and my momentum hit a big wall.
April 1 – Eleven days to go.
I twisted my right ankle mid-way through my morning run and didn’t think much of it. In the last few kilometres I could feel my lower leg tightening up. It was a little uncomfortable but nothing too concerning.
On my afternoon run I could tell that it was more serious than “a little uncomfortable” and I cut my run short.
April 2 – Ten days to go.
I know I shouldn’t run today. Typically when I have a little injury such as this a day off is all that’s needed. In fact I’ve already done this twice in the past few months where I swapped my scheduled day off for when I needed it. This time it will be an extra day off, but at this point it’s fine. I went in the pool for 30 minutes to feel like I was doing something.
April 3 – Nine days to go.
I had a session scheduled in the morning but I didn’t want my first run back to be hard. I was cautious about running so I ran 1km down the road turned back. I did this four times and my leg felt pretty good. It actually felt a little better afterwards. The pain in my peroneus is barely there although my calf is tight now, most likely from compensating.
Since I felt better after my run I figured I was in the clear and could resume my program and the little aches would work themselves out. I completed the session and felt fine. However, on the cool-down my peroneus and calf felt uncomfortable, just like it had two days earlier. Back to square one.
I was able to get in to see Jeroen Deen for physiotherapy. He massaged the area and used a Tecar machine.
April 4 – Eight days to go.
I decided to run at 8:30 instead of 6:30 to give myself more time to get activated. Right off the bat my leg felt tight but hoped it was loosen-up. It only got worse. 1km into the run I had to call it. I turned around and hobbled back.
Not being able to run eight days from a marathon is less than ideal. However I’m confident that this injury can clear in a day or two if I’m smart about it.
April 5 – One week to go.
This morning my peroneus still felt sore and tender. The good news is that everything else in that area feels better. I decided to not even test it. I was going a little stir crazy so I went for a walk around town.
For x-training I went in the pool for 35 minutes in the morning. In the afternoon I planned on another 35 min but a thunderstorm rolled through 15 minutes in. I suppose 50 minutes on the day if fine for one week out.
Given my situation I’m still optimistic and positive that this injury can clear and I can be ready to go for Rotterdam. There is naturally some doubt as I’m not even able to run one week out from race day.
April 6 – Six days to go.
I woke up this morning and could tell right away there was improvement with my peroneus. I went on a 40 minute walk to see how that felt. Walking was fine.
Should I run today? What if I can run and feel good? Then I can get back on track! What if I run and set my recovery further back? Am I trying to run just to test it out? Am I being impatient?
In the end I decided on a little run. I started with 500m out and 500m back and the assessed how my leg felt. I ended up repeating that five times and felt as though I could have run longer but I didn’t want to risk too much this morning, maybe I will run again this afternoon.
Later in the day I got physiotherapy and Jeroen advised me to let the treatment work its way out and only pool run in the afternoon. After 40 minutes of pool running it felt a little better.
April 7 – Five days to go.
If I had been feeling normal and I woke up with my peroneus feeling like it did today I would very worried. However, I’m pretty excited with how it feels, as there is noticeable improvement from yesterday. It’s all relative.
This morning I ventured as far out as 1.5 km down the road. I went out and back twice for a 6km run. I’m happy with the way it’s progressing and I am more confident that I won’t have to resort to plan B (Hannover Marathon on April 19). Coincidently on my run I stopped to say hi to one of my training partners who is pacing Hannover.
This afternoon my run felt close to normal. I feel as though I turned a corner this afternoon. Relief.
I still need to be careful and not overdo it. After the run tomorrow morning I’ll be traveling and won’t run again until Thursday evening shake-out in Rotterdam.
April 8 – 4 Days to go.
I managed 16km this morning with a few short pickups to mimic marathon effort and marathon pace. A little tightness in the area but given where it was a few days ago and that I have a few more days to go, no complaints.
Finally I can post this blog. I didn’t want to post anything until things were much better. It might seem as tough I’m posting a big excuse leading into the race. However, my motivation to write about my experience is to give an example of how tough this sport can be. I invested a lot of time into this race and even money (2 trips to Kenya out of my pocket) and it almost didn’t happen. If I had sustained this injury about 5 days later there’s no way I could toe the line and I would have had to scramble to find another race. Even as it stands there are no guarantees that I’m healed enough for 42.2km.
My goal is to achieve the Olympic standard. Of course I don’t know what that is. The IAAF hasn’t released it even though the qualifying window is open. That in turns puts AC in a tough position to publish their standard. It’s a weird position to be in but right now I’m just glad I’m able to race.
Now I need to get my head back into racing and convince myself this is a blessing in disguise (I have not other choice). There’s enough time for that in the next few days.
Tonight I fly to Nairobi. Tomorrow I fly to Amsterdam. The plan is to race within 72 hours of coming down from altitude.