Fall Training: Week 10

09fall-training-10This week started out well but rapidly nosedived as a new injury emerged. On Tuesday, toward the end of a midlength run, the top of my left foot suddenly started hurting. A lot.

With icing it seemed to get better overnight and I felt good enough to go do my tempo run at the track on Wednesday. That went very well until the penultimate fast mile when the pain started to come back. I could still run fast, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. The recovery run later that day was a bit better and I was encouraged to find that the more I ran, the better the foot felt.

Then on Thursday I did a nine mile recovery run with the same expectation, but ended up with a completely different experience. My foot hurt like hell for the entire run. Aside from one incredibly hot and humid half marathon in which I had a small…um…”accident” in my shorts just past mile 4, these were the longest 9 miles I can recall ever having gritted my teeth through.

After that run the pain started to migrate upward from the top of my foot to the lateral side of my ankle. There was no obvious inflammation, which I suppose was a good sign, although the area was tender.

As much as I hated to do so, I backed off for the rest of Thursday, as well as Friday and Saturday, chopping my mileage by close to 30 miles in the process. I’m upset that it came to this, but what could I do? After Thursday’s sufferfest I felt that running on it further would only delay the process of healing.

Fortunately, I have a stationary bike for just such occasions, so I whaled away on that for a couple of days. At the risk of offending duathletes and triathletes, biking is not that hard. I averaged 16mph at 60-63% MHR with a resistance setting of 5 (on a scale of 1-10). Maybe I need to put these monster legs onto some pedals one day, since I know I’ve got the running nailed.

Last night I did a 20 minute run test on the treadmill, scooting from 11:00 pace down to 8:00, just to see what my tendon would do. It didn’t get worse, which was good enough for me. Hardly the best test, since 20 minutes on a flat treadmill at a slow pace does not equal 20 miles in Central Park at a fast pace.

Since I take some measure of pride in being an honest blogger, even when it makes me look like an idiot (see shorts shitting episode above), I’ll confess that I took a serious painkiller for this run: 500mg of Hydrocodone (prescription only!). I resorted to this measure only because OTC meds had no effect on the pain over the preceding days. I took half one hour before the run and kept the other half in my shorts. I took that at the 13.5 mile mark when my ankle was starting to whine.

I know that it’s generally not a great idea to include narcotics in one’s training plan, for the usual reasons: they mask pain, they can have unpredictable physiological effects when mixed with high effort, one can become overly reliant on them as a “band aid” of sorts, yadda yadda. But I’m a big girl and know the risks. I knew going in that my tendon was inflamed and would hurt. I knew I didn’t have a stress fracture. I knew that 500mg of something in my system during a few faster miles wasn’t going to wreak havoc. I used to be alarmist about such things, but I’m not anymore.

The run went well. I did 5 miles at around 10:00 and then picked it up to average 7:35 per mile 7:50 per mile (I can’t do math properly) for the faster 15. This is a very good decent pace for me in Central Park, which is constant ups and downs. I avoided the huge hills at the top of the park, opting to go clockwise along the 4+ mile “inner loop” (utilizing the two major transverses at 72nd and 102nd streets) for most of the run. It was also around 60F and 92% humidity. Add in that I was running on a bum ankle and I’m happy with today’s performance. I know I worked hard because I came home and slept for 2+ hours.

Random fun facts: I counted four people who were running faster than I was today and they were all guys in their 20s and 30s; that always makes me feel good. Also, there was an ice cream cart on the corner of the 72nd street transverse and West Side Drive, but no one was buying ice cream. I bought one at the end of the run and it took the guy about five minutes to excavate the desired item from the bowels of his cart. I wondered if it had been buried in there since September.

Next week is the transition from training to taper. I’ve got my last speed session (I skipped the one planned for Friday of this week) and a 4 mile race in the park on Sunday, in which I will make my second attempt to garner a NYRR First Corral bib. As for my tendon, regardless of what it does overnight I’ll go see the orthopedist this week for a cortisone shot. It wouldn’t be marathon season without one.