Tuesday, March 5, 2013

20-Proceed With Caution!

Next month I will celebrate, appropriately, by toeing the line at Hopkinton, the anniversary of the best marathon of my life. At the 1983 Boston Marathon I turned in a time of 2:22:54, a personal best, nine seconds behind a world record performance by future Olympic champion, Joan Benoit. More on the history of this great race in the chapter, 'Boston,' in my book, "Running Shorts." www.runningshortsbook.com.

Obviously, those days are behind me, but I do still enjoy the marathon distance. Next month's Boston Marathon will be my 16th running of the Patriot's Day classic, and will be my 53rd marathon.

My current goal is the 3-hour mark. At the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon I was able to turn in a time of 2:58:54. My training over the past months has been similar to that of the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon preparation, but, when training for a marathon, obstacles can emerge anytime.

Last year, at Boston, temperatures soared into the high 80s, yet chills enveloped my body. It seems I had contracted a sinus infection a few days before the race. The result was an 18-mile training run, and only the 2nd marathon DNF of my career. (both at Boston)

My former 100-mile weeks are 50-mile weeks these days, and as I advise at my seminars, as we age, we must trainer smarter.

Often, however, I do not practice what I preach.

Sunday's 20-miler was brutal. Temperatures hovered in the low 30s, and a northwest wind gusted to 30-miles per hour. I wisely punished myself by running into the wind early in the wourkout, and took advantage of a tailwind for the second half. My goal was a 7:30 pace, and my 2:28:15 finish time brought me under my target time by 5 seconds a mile

A whirlpool, plenty of Powerade,a couple of PBR's, and I felt pretty good. As the night wore on, however, the outside of my left knee began to ache.

A younger me would tried to "run through it," by logging a few miles on Monday.

Not now, though.

Monday's mileage was zero, and the day was punctuated with a glorious 1-hour nap after work. 10 minutes of ultrasound, and a compression sleeve surrounding my knee got me through the night.

Today was all about proper preparation. I slathered on copious amounts of Icy Hot. Yes, I reek of it as I write. The compression sleeve, some stretching, and then, the most important component. A 5-minute drive to a flat, gravel trail.

The result was a painless 7-mile run at a 7:35 per-mile pace.

Most of us try to remain safe by facing traffic as we run. Many of the roads we run are 'crowned,' for drainage purposes. Lateral knee pain of the left leg is often a result of the leg taking the brunt of the downward slope of the road.

Today, I indeed, 'practiced what I preach.' All is ok, training has not been interrupted, but caution is the word for the next few days. The ice will be applied tonight, and the Icy Hot will be handy.

Runners are far more knowledgeable about their bodies than mere mortals. But, we are  more stubborn as well, and we harbor delusionary thoughts of invincibility. Believe me, I know it. I've been there...more than once!

Listen to your body. Understand the value of rest. There is no secret formula. Do what works best for you. A good friend of mine used to take two days off before his races. His 10K times were in the 33-34-minute range. Do what it takes to enable you to turn in your best performances.

I hope you stay healthy. But when you feel an injury coming on, proceed with caution!