This marathon training cycle has been one giant game of whack-a-mole. I punched down one injury only to have another pop up . Hammer one into oblivion, and up comes another. The hip has of course been a factor from day one, though thankfully not to the extent of sidelining me entirely. Then there was the soleus strain that left me out for a solid 5-6 days. After that, my peroneal tendon decided to nag at me for miles on end.
But the final straw came a little over a week ago when I found myself staring down a beady eyed mole called anemia. After my 16 mile run Sunday (in which my heart rate was way higher than it should have been for that pace), I felt completely trashed. We had plans to go out to celebrate my birthday, but I couldn’t find the energy to change out of sweat pants. I decided I’d rather sit on the couch and eat leftover doughnuts. (Yay for Krispy Kreme opening in Anchorage!) Just walking up the stairs felt like a colossal challenge. I felt irritated to an irrational degree. I wanted to punch something, but I was too tired.
The next day, I woke up feeling even worse. I cried at regular intervals about how all my marathon training was a stupid waste. I didn’t shed any tears of disappointment about my prediction that I wouldn’t be able to race the marathon. Because at that point? I didn’t want to run it. At. All.
I had labs done a couple weeks earlier as part of a regular checkup, and at that time my iron was in good shape. However, my ferritin was low (20), especially for a female distance runner. I called my doctor Tuesday, and after hearing my symptoms, she had me start supplements (Pro-Ferrin). My running partner already had a bottle on hand and delivered it to me so I could get started right away! She’s a keeper!
I’ve been on iron supplements for a week and a half now, and am definitely seeing an improvement. During the worst of it, I missed one quality workout and a couple of easy runs. I’ve since made it through a couple of quality workouts, though they were more of a struggle than I’d like. And the easy runs are finally feeling somewhat easy again.
Monday- 6 miles easy. Except not at all easy. I felt so incredibly tired from start to finish. Fell apart when I got home.
Tuesday- Off. Was supposed to be 4 x 1.5 miles at 7:50 for a total of 11 miles. Went grocery shopping instead and had to lean on the cart handle because I was so tired.
Wednesday- Off. This is my normal day off, and I gladly took it. Still felt really off and weak and terribly unhappy about it.
Thursday-6 miles easy. I couldn’t believe the difference one day made. I woke up feeling normal again! Went for a run with my friend and felt great the whole time!
Friday- 13 miles with 10 at GMP. Warmed up for 1.5 miles, then 10 miles at 7:54 avg, cool down for 1.5 miles. Hard to believe it, but my HR for this run was lower on average than any so far (139). I am still in awe that I was able to do this run at all given how horrible I tanked over the weekend. My bad hip started to really hurt by mile 8, but other than that, I felt decent.
Saturday- 10 miles easy. This run felt way harder than it should have. I was just so tired. Interesting that my HR was never high and remained in easy range most of the run. Recovery wise, I tanked after this run, felt sick and weak, similar to some previous hard runs. Again, looking back and knowing what I know about my ferritin level and associated symptoms, this makes a lot of sense.
Sunday- 8 miles easy. This was supposed to be 10, but I was feeling really tired and my HR was higher than it should be for an easy run. Cut it short.
Weekly Total -43 miles
Monday- 8.5 miles (8:11 avg). Workout called for 6x 1 mile @ 7:50. Got 5 done. (7:45, 7:58, 7:42, 7:38, 7:45). Very, very very tough mentally. HR averaged 145 but it was high when I first started. I kept worrying about pushing too hard and ruining chance for good recovery. On top of that, it was gusting 30-40 mph at the track and every time I’d turn into the straightaway I felt like I was standing still at best and on the verge of blowing away. (How fast can an anemic run in gale force winds? Answer: not fast.) Went back to the neighborhood after 3 repeats to try there, completed one more mile and decided to take it indoors to the treadmill. That was a relief from wind but not boredom. Haven’t run on the treadmill in ages, and felt like I’d forgotten how. Stepped too close the front and nearly fell off. Oy. Decided to only do 5 miles instead of 6.
Tuesday- 8 miles easy.
Thursday- 13 miles (8:03 avg) -I did it! Finished my last quality run before the marathon. It didn’t feel easy, but probably one of the strongest runs I’ve had in a while. It was a good note to end on before starting the 9 day taper.
It’s all easy miles from here on out!
So have I triumphed in this whack-0-mole marathon training game? I’ll find out on September 25th when I line up at the Kenai River Marathon. Now it’s time to rest up, eat my spinach and trust the training (and ibuprofin) will get me to the finish line!