Howdy ya’ll it’s Happy Running Hump Day! Last Wednesday I wrote a post called ‘Bart Yasso Blog Shrine’. I very briefly referred to how I was fortunate enough to meet “The Mayor of Running” himself on the eve of the Chicago marathon in 2016, but also mentioned how memorable that specific marathon was for me both good and bad.
I’m going to elaborate on two elements in today’s post pertaining my training for the Chicago Marathon as well as the experience itself and what it taught me. Hopefully, you’ll get something out of this in some way. If at the very least a decent chuckle and some a few quick injury prevention hacks.
‘The Fabulous Debacle of Ms. Type-A’
The Chicago Marathon if you didn’t already know, is during the month of October each year. It came about in its early years as kind of the rival marathon of the New York City Marathon held in November. Last year it totaled more than 40,000 runners and has been one of the biggest centralized U.S. Marathons for over 40 years. It’s a flat and fast marathon that weaves thru 29 different neighborhoods and sections of the city.
With my commitment to the fall marathon and training for it alongside coaching and running with the cross country team, I knew it would physically be a lot. In addition, I was still working as a clinical massage therapist at the time and averaging 4-5 massages a day.
The beauty of integrating my passion for running into my coaching is that I can partially kill two birds with one stone. Many days I would calculate the mileage I had planned for the team and put that towards my own training and then supplement whatever additional I needed to get in. Cross Country season is an intense season for us Coaches and needless to say, with working two day jobs I was squeezing in mileage as early as 3:30 a.m. some days and almost always running 2x/day 6 days a week.
In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal and you do what you’ve got to do so that you can look back at your life and hopefully not have too many regrets about accomplishing goals because they were too hard to make happen. However, during that intense fall season of running and training, I completely neglected the extra maintenance and personal care stuff. I didn’t take the time to foam roll or stretch out after runs like I should’ve. I didn’t take the time to warm-up properly or do my Coach Jay Johnson strength and mobility stuff religiously. (Here’s a sample by the way, and I’ll elaborate on how great his stuff is on Friday in Coaches Corner Blog).
Coach Jay Johnson and his SAM (strength and mobility) videos
Needless to say, I took my body for granted and put it thru the ringer. I had more twingy aches and pains thru training that fall then I had before. What I DID realize and do was I figured out ways to integrate the little self-care things into other daily rituals. Again with the mentality of killing two birds with one stone and trying to multi-task. It wasn’t much and it certainly wasn’t to the measures of what I would recommend for physical maintenance for runners in general, but I’m passing this along so that hopefully integrating a lifestyle of self-care becomes easy, convenient and second nature for you as well. Here are a few I’ll share:
Injury Prevention Hacks
- I always keep a child’s bouncy ball (you can also use a golf ball, baseball or other harder small-ish ball) underneath my desk. I sit and figure out training plans, stats, meet details, etc. thru-out the season and have found it’s a good opportunity and feels amazing to roll the bottoms of my feet out while I work. Rolling out your feet helps with plantar fasciitis prevention, promotes fresh circulation to the connective tissues and tendons in the feet and helps massage the fine network of muscles between the metatarsals (foot bones).
- Along with this same multi-tasking principle, I always keep a tennis ball on my rug in front of my side of the lavatory in the bathroom. Again, I’ll roll my feet out every morning and night while I’m brushing my teeth.
- I also would take that same tennis ball then and climb into bed. And while I was watching the news, or looking up weather for the next day I would use it to lay on and work out some trigger points.
There are a few other self care hacks that I’ve discovered over the years, which I’ll share on Friday as well.
The second element of this post today that I want to share is to emphasize checking what you’ve packed once,twice, and three times before traveling out of town to go run a race. With everything going on that fall and literally always running in three different directions, I completely forgot my running shoes for the Chicago Marathon. That’s right! Ms. Type-A forgot her running shoes.
Let me give you a glimpse of what I mean by Type-A. Typically, I set aside two of everything that I’ll need on race morning, “just in case”. Two pairs of running shorts, two pairs of socks, two shirts, two different types of warmer layers for shedding “just in case” the weather takes a turn (my lesson from Boston), two garbage sacks (one to hack as a disposable poncho and the other to sit on or stretch pre-race while waiting to line-up and corral), two sets of sport beans or gels, two ponytails (one extra on my wrist “just in case” the one in my hair breaks), well….you get the point. All of these things typically go in separate baggies or ziplocs so that all I have to do the night before my race is grab it and set it out. Everything set to go and no thinking required on race morning, since I’ll be so focused and in the Zone, ha!
After we returned from carb loading on the eve of the marathon and meeting Bart, I went to my duffel and pulled out exactly everything I was going to need. I grabbed all 4 pins for my race bib, and the race bib itself and set it out too. Easy peasy, all set to go….WAIT!!!! Oh Fudgeeeee!!!! (imagine Ralphy in A Christmas Story) Where were my running shoes?!?!?!!!!! How was I going to run for 3 and half hours, 26.2 miles without my running shoes?!
My husband, home coach, and saving grace (who VERY UNCONDITIONALLY loves me) immediately went into calm the panic and save Mama Bear mode. Could he go out right then and buy a pair for tomorrow? No, it was 10:30 p.m. and all retail stores were closed. How about getting up early and going out to buy some first thing and then meeting me somewhere along the course with them? Sure, but how would he be sure to find me or get the right kind of shoes, or be able to pull all that off without a car and only UBER before my wave started at 7:30a.m. on a Sunday morning. My only saving grace was that I had chosen to wear my 5 year old Nike Free shoes (I like to call them the B-Team shoes) coming into town that weekend instead of my Birkenstock sandals that I originally thought would feel good and let my feet breath before the race. So, that is what I’d have to do.
Along with the shoe debacle and my brain then being completely frantic and scattered from it, I forgot my phone on race morning and had no way of getting in touch with my husband after the race amongst the throngs of 40+ thousand runners and 1.7 million race spectators (approximated by the race organizers). This was Part 2 of the debacle.
The memories from that day included losing a toenail from running in my 1/2 size smaller shoes that took 5 months to grow back. And my husband chasing me all over the course after using Uber 4-5 times ro run back to the hotel to retrieve my phone and hoping he could intercept me at the pre-planned mile check points. We now blame missing each other at each of those checkpoints on the adrenaline running me faster than expected pace, but finally found each other at mile 20. He was such a ray of sunshine and literally the sun came out of the clouds right then and my heart and soul were warmed by both.
The silver lining on the morning and the debacle memories both Parts 1 and 2, were that I did indeed run a little faster than expected and was hyper aware of my surroundings and didn’t have my usual music plugged into my ears. I took it ALL in!! The young boy that was playing his guitar hooked up to an amp somewhere between mile 10-12. The man who was on his second marathon that very same weekend and who ran with me having a casual conversation for 3-4 miles thru Lincoln Park. The woman from Spain who played leap frog with me thru out miles 8/10- 16/18. And her support team, that were at predestined check marks and yelling things in Spanish that I’m assuming were encourage and positive, judging by the smiles on their faces. Ha! And finally, surprisingly how good I felt after I let go of worrying about whether or not my feet would hold up with the B-Team shoes, and whether or not my husband would find me. I let go of having to be in control of it all. And in doing so, I was more present and just lived in the moment.
So runners, this post today gives me a segway into injury prevention, strength and mobility and at home hacks for Coaches Corner Friday. And also, hopefully, is a reminder to think of Corrie and The Fabulous Debacle of Ms. Type-A next time you’re packing to go out of town for a race. DON’T FORGET YOUR RUNNING SHOES!!!! Happy Running Hump Day!