Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Injury/Mileage Questions & Pedicure Power

First let me say that I may have found my 2 favorite mega-marathoners in the world and they're solving all my problems. As mentioned in the last post, this weekend I met Gary and I haven't MET Morgan yet, but we've exchanged a few notes. Well separately they gave me tips to help solve my 2 biggest marathon issues. Issue #1 is... #2 while racing! I couldn't understand how Gary could run all of his sub 3 hour marathons and not lose the lead by stopping to go to the bathroom. Well he broke out 2 little tablet-- Imodium! Says it works great and he never has to stop. I WILL be trying this on my next race. Time in the bathroom can be the different between 3:39 and 3:41... not cool.

Problem #2: You've seen them-- the Toes. Orrrr my talons o' shame. Most of the toe nails are black and have started consistently falling off. They're pretty good at growing back... that is, until I do another marathon. Since Saturday I've lost another 2 nail. Morgan suggested dark pink nail polish. It covers the black and you can't tell the difference between painting nail and painting skin where nails should be. I tried it last night, as well as some cuticle clipping of the lose, hanging, dried skin from blister upon blister... TMI? Sorry, if you can't handle it, do NOT scroll down to the pictures. I think my quick little pedi made a huge difference, don't you?

Before (Yes I'm pushing my toes out so they're not clawed up like talons as per usual)

After... There are still a few open sores, but beside that they almost look like normal toes. GUESS how many toenails are real (vs. painted skin) and you win the contest of the day!

Thanks Morgan & Gary for your wonderful insight!

Q and A on Mega-Marathoning...
Think back 30 marathons/ultras ago-- to June 2009. I was getting ready to do my first *gasp* back to back marathon weekends. Yep- 2 marathons in 2 consecutive weekends. At the time this was crazy... now, I'm not too sure there is a number of weeks in a row that I would call "crazy." Anyways, as I was approaching my back to back weekend of marathons, I wasn't sure how to address my running needs properly. Should I train in between? Should I rest? What should I eat? What should I do right after the race to get ready for the next. Most running books and Mags DON'T address the questions of back to back marathons because they don't want to encourage it. I found it very difficult to find advice on similar questions like these as I picked up my marathoning and dove into the world of (what I like to refer to as) "Mega Marathoning"-- taking 0 recovery time, consecutive races, limitless miles.

I'm no expert on this crazy approach to marathon running, but I've definitely learned some things over the past year and I wouldn't mind adding to the few resources out there on mega marathoning, by answering some question... Hey! If that penguin guy from Runners World can do it, so can I!

Indi from Overland Park, KS writes... 
"...I have two questions? 
- What is the worst injury that has sidelined you? and
- How the heck do you manage to keep that kind of mileage up without getting injured....any tips and tricks to share with someone who is looking at doing their first marathon in spring 2011...i'm pretty injury prone:("

Dear Injury-Proned in KS, (hehe.... I thought that was clever)
1) Biggest Injury: If you scroll back to my double in January, I actually managed to hurt my posterior tibialis. This is a tendon that runs around the ankle, close to the achilles, but not exactly. During the 2nd race I fell and hit my knee. To make my knee feel better I ran with my foot purposely over-pronated (crazy idea, right?) and managed to do a little damange to this tendon.
- Solution? This was the one time this year I took about a week and a half off from running. I did a lot of cardio-style weight lifting as well as a little bit on the eliptical and some additional classes offered at my gym, including cycling. ALSO, I found Vibrams. This is when I started reading up on minimalist running. With minimalist running, instead of stuffing a bunch of extra cushion in your shoe, the idea was to allow the body to run as it should. Because of this your hips, knees, legs, and feet will align themselves better than with cushioned shoes. Also, without the cushion your foot/ankle will learn to strengthen itself! Since changing to vibrams and Nike Free's, I've found my ankles legs and calves to be much much stronger.

2) Increased Mileage Injury Free? Well there are a few things I found to be pretty important when ramping up mileage, whether it be from 5K's to half-marathons or marathons to 50-milers...
A. Do it slowly- Throwing on a couple extra 10-milers will put you out of commission for a few weeks from overuse.
B. Mix it up- I don't run more than 4 days per week. The higher the daily mileage you get into, the more you're getting into the "overuse" category of training. The body can get used to most things if you force it, but it still needs rest. I spend another 2 days on the eliptical or bike as well as free weight training, speaking of...
C. STRENGTH TRAINING! I attribute this to 90% of my lack of injuries. It not only makes your legs stronger to plow up hills but the FREE WIGHTS (not the machines) allow you to strengthen all the small stability muscles that tend weaken as we run. I try to do a lot (if not all) of my stregth training while standing on an upside down Bosu ball to give an extra workout to my core and and stability. I do squats and 1-legged squats as well. My favorite exercise: turn the ball over and stand on it. Grab some lighter weights. Squat and as you come up do a shoulder press. Repeat 15-20 times for a set. Do 3 sets somewhere between cardio sessions.
Note: This is NOT me... pic, from beginner triathlete site.

D) Listen to your body. This is the biggest lesson I've learned. Runners don't get hit like football players and receive injuries, we feel them coming up over time and finally when we ignore it long enough, we're forced to take more time off than if we dealt with it from the beginning! If something is hurt and heat/ice/ibuprofen can't help... take a day or 2 off. If that doesn't help... take 3 days off! There is nothing a runner likes to be told less than "stop running," but the most important goal here is to MAKE it to the START of the race! Since you're now listening to Advice "C" you have plenty to do on these off days... at the gym!
 E) Free Clinics-- but Beware! A lot of local running stores will hold weekly or monthly free clinics where local podiatrists will come in and answer any injury questions you may have. This is a great source if you're unaware of what's causing an injury. HOWEVER, I caution you... a lot of these Dr's (esp the ones that DON'T run) tend to jump to conclusions and tell you that you're an overpronator and need to get more support in your shoe. If you ask around, 99% of runners have been told they overpronate... maybe it's because of all this stuffing we put in our shoes?? I used to be declared an overpronator and after 5 months with the frees and vibrams, I not only run straight, but I also no longer heel strike!
Hope I covered all of your questions Indi. If you need anything further, please feel free to email me... there is a link in the nav bar above. :)
Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb


  1. Thanks so much for all your insight! It definitely reinforces some of what I'm trying to do as far as cross training and strength training. I love the bosu ball idea and will be incorporating that for sure.
    Thanks from Injury Proned in KS!! (Love it)

  2. Thanks for all your advice, excellent ideas! I do a lot of strength training and know it helps make you a stronger runner. I love your toesies painted! I paint the stubs on 3 of my toes since there's no toenail there anymore...I just feel "prettier" - haha.

  3. Great advice!

    I think you've got 4 "phoney" toenails. Being that I currently have two missing and about 3 others that and thinking about joining the "let's get gone" party, I speak from experince.

    You did a great job on your pedi!

  4. Your toes look amazing!!! Okay, I am totally going to clean mine up. If yours can look presentable, so can mine. I'm guessing... 5 real nails??

    Awesome advice on mega-marathoning... I'll know where to turn if I ever lose my marbles.

  5. I too follow the "paint the nailbeds" approach :) Hope you get to meet Morgan soon - she's awesome! Can't believe you've still never met her.

  6. Love your pink toenails. I recently also venture into a dark gray and a somewhat plumish silverish grayish color for my toenails. I'm a girly girly coral and pink and red kinda girl, so this black toenail thing is actually helping me venture out of my comfort zone.

  7. I'm guessing you have 7 real nails! :)

    How many days a week do you do leg strength training and on which days do you do it? Easy days? Off days? After a long run or hard workout?