Ok, this is my second post in a few days..... I am training for my first marathon, about 8 weeks into Hal Higdon's novice 2 plan. I completed a 14 mile run and felt some knee/calf stiffness, iced, rested, etc but my next long run (supposed to be 15 miles) was a failure. I was having severe knee pain, and stopped 9 miles in (probably about 6 miles too late). Went to the dr who diagnosed runners knee. I have been icing and using the foam roller, and took 3 days off. Yesterday I ran for 4 miles -- went great, no problems. Today, being greedy, I decided to do 3 slow miles. Well, one mile into it my achilles tendon started having serious pain, and I stopped. It still hurts, and I'm worried I have tendonitis on top of my knee problems. I feel so discouraged - like this marathon thing must be doomed. I turn 40 this week -- is this the beginning of the end? Besides giving up and parking back on the couch, what can I do?? Do the achilles straps/taping help, and if so, do you think I could run again this week? I feel like this is week 2 of being behind in my training, and I feel very off track. Any help is much, much appreciated!!
Training for Disney Marathon January 2011
I started running at age 50 as part of triathon training. The first thing I did was read up on running technique. Everyone runs naturally but the shoes these days tend to increase over-striding and heel strike by having so much padding. That can cause some of the problems you are experiencing. Read up on Chi, Pose, and Evolution running techniques that stress mid-foot landing and shorter strides with higher cadence (footfalls per minute). I have not had problems even though I had my knee 'scoped 25 years ago, had my Achilles and calf torn (all on the left leg) from participating in various recreational activities over the years. I still ice my knee after long runs and use a light elastic brace that has bands above and below the knee cap that keep the knee stable. I also did a lot of weight training in the gym (leg lifts, hamstring curls, calf/toe raises, squats, lunges) to strengthen all the muscles around the knees. Don't run through the kind of pain you are experiencing as that will cause the problems to get worse. This first marathon may be more walk than run as you may need to start at the beginning of your training again. Good luck and enjoy running.
I think all runners feel like they start falling apart at some age. For me, it was around 30.
It sounds like you are experiencing routine runner's complaints but so far no injuries that will keep you from the Disney marathon. It is important that you not injure yourself. Don't overtrain, don't try to "push through." I did that when training for a marathon and wound up with a stress fracture (actually, I did this twice). Give yourself permission to rest and recover. Get a sports massage. Cross-train. Buy a "Tigertail" or "The Stick" and use it daily. And then get back out and train.
Finally, think about your goal for the marathon. This might be a year for a walk/run marathon.
"Victory through attrition!"
Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03
The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00
I'll trade my 62 for your 40.
Much of the advice given for your runner's knee could help here too. Become more conscious of your stride, Keep it (relatively) short, keep the cadence up and plant your foot directly under your hips, not out in front. Chi, Pose, Evolution, etc. are all well and good but I don't think now is the time for wholesale changes.
Here's an article on exercises for a sore achilles: http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/eccentric_achilles
Thank you so much for your replies. They have been very helpful, and I have taken your advice and am not trying to run through these injuries. I went back to sports doc and was diagnosed with a calf strain, and prescribed 3 weeks with no running. Ouch! I don't know what this means for me as far as my marathon -- I am going to try cross training and pool running, and see if when I get back on the road if I can do a run/walk combo that would get me through the 26.2. Its flat, which is a bonus... but I was just up to 14 miles so I definitely didn't have the base I would have hoped for.
If after the 3 weeks I am still in pain I will postpone for another race -- hugely disappointing, but I know I am not alone.
Thanks for all the support!!
I agree with your doctor. I work by prescription on muscles diagnosed with "strain," and always find it comical when runners are quick to blame the tougher parts of the body - bones and tendons - for their pain. Muscles contain most of the nerves that convey these signals of discomfort to the brain.
Anyone whose eaten a steak can tell you which parts are harder to chew. Tendons are neary impossible to hurt, and nobody even thinks about chewing the bone, yet folks are inclined to suspect these relatively nerve-less parts are broken before considering the overworked and tender muscles that move them.
I agree with Len that it's not your age that is holding you back (I'm in my late 50s and just completed a 28 miler this evening - probably my strongest ever), but something else in your life, such as sleep, form/posture, surface, equipment, nutrition, lack of recovery and maintenance, or a combination of these and other factors that has gotten your body's attention.
Lack of sleep or rest/recovery is probably the number one thing that can slow you down, and age with its responsibilities tends to rob our opportunities for both. The shoes and running surfaces you choose can make a surprising difference, either too hard OR too soft. On nutrition, you are what you eat, and most of us pick up some bad habits as we age that may pay us back in spades years later.
Maintenance is simple: Find a foam roller, Stick, Theracane, Knobber, or other tool of choice (my favorite is soaped hands in every shower) and work your legs regularly to relax tired muscles and enhance blood/lymphatic flow (work in the direction of the heart). If you must stretch, you should relax the muscles before stretching. It is counterproductive when you are pulling one way and your muscle is pulling the other. When you stretch, remember it is better to err on the side of moderation.
Problems in the rear calf muscles are often mistaken for Tendonitis or Plantar Fasciitis, among other maladies. Problems in the Quad muscles are often perceived as knee problems and can in fact eventually cause them. Problems with muscles of the hip are often the cause of back and hip joint pain. Sitting in chairs, especially when driving, is one of the worst things for your hip muscles and hamstrings. Stay active and on your feet as much as possible.. don't just rely on your workouts to condition your body.
On training, while Hal Higdon's plan is popular, I would consider a less agressive program such as the Galloway method before throwing in the towel on marathoning, and start adding at least one more cross-training or rest day per week to your schedule, which seems to help runners over 40 recover better.
Time to take an inventory of your lifestyle choices, and how they may affect your running. Don't be afraid of getting older. I may be as old as I've ever been, but my legs are strong as ever too.