The Last Marathon Notes. I promise

So many things worked out so well for me in the Boston Marathon that I had been trying to pinpoint what was it that did it, mostly under the crappy circumstances I was in 2 months ago (piriformis syndrome, and then the evil ITBS). I decided I’d jot them down because it is REALLY IMPORTANT I keep them around…

The Race
The race was a blast. And it was the opposite of what I always do. No music, running with Andrea, going out just to enjoy the race. But what I think really did make the difference was running with no pace bracelet. And having no time goal or clue what time I was doing during the race. That took all the pressure off me and allowed for everything else to work and to finally run a smartly-paced marathon.

The ITB issue
A LOT of people told me to defer Boston and to stop running for a bunch of months. Of course you know I didn’t, and this is what I found helped:
#1: GET OFF THE PAVEMENT. This was Toby (Tanser)’s idea and it did wonders. I had trouble first with the idea of doing even the long runs there, but it was a major factor on my super fast recovery. I will keep at it. Toby also never said to stop running and helped me plan the whole thing out. As much as I read and listen, there’s nothing to get advice from someone who’s lived it. Just keep running through it, you won’t make it worse, it doesn’t matter what people say, don’t stop running. That is, if you can handle the pain. Run on a softer surface if you can, and a flat area (the downhills hurt more as you know. In NYC, I did my long runs in the reservoir (up top) and it was fine.
#2: Brutal MASSAGES. Also Toby’s idea. So I went to Chinatown to pay for pain a few times to Toby’s guy. But then, a friend lent (more like shoved) me her PT: Paul was so good I’d end up all bruised from the massages!! Seems like as much as you want to roll on the ITB, that stoooopid thing doesn’t stretch, so he went deep into the quads (the ITB runs below). I did all I could not to cry on those sessions and look tough. Since then, I’ve never foam rolled again. Massages are 50 times better.
#3: STRENGTHENING. As my knees bend inwards, I needed to strengthen some particular muscles (the inside of the knee, the forward rotation of the glutes, etc.): you have to find someone who knows where the deficiencies are and would give you specific exercises to work that area. And you have to do them. Every day. I am still doing them. I have added the thera-band to my torture devices. Basically focus on strengthening the quads and the glutes. ok? that’s KEY. 2-3 times a day. GO at it.
#4: STRETCHING. Foam rolling the ITB, the quads, the hamstrings; tennis ball in the piriformis, hip flexors, use a yoga band to stretch out your hamstrings, glutes…  any kind of “fun” stretching: the marathon stick; the yoga band… Every day, as many times as you can. When I am home, it’s 8 times a day. Every time I pee, I stretch!
#5: The rest. Warm compress the sore spots (knee, etc) before a run to let it warm up, and ICE the crap out of it after, as many times as you can (like three times a day)

If you do all those 5 things, you can get rid of ITBS in anything from 2 days to 2 weeks. Once a day stretching won’t do it though. You have to be aggressive and attack it, ok? Like, you’ll be in more pain from this than from the ITBS. The more you suffer, the faster it’ll go away. –I’ve seen people have their ITBS disappear after two days of this. OKAY???

The Training
It was short and fickle (given post NYCM piriformis syndrome and then the ITB…) but here’s what did it:

#1: BLAISE, my TP (NOT Toilet Paper: Training Partner!). I needed trails, trails it was; there was a monsoon, there he was. He trained through a brutal winter with me and followed my training program even though he had no marathon coming up. There he was for every long run I could NOT have done by myself. All I’d hear is “whatever time/route/day/surface is fine”. It’s amazing to me how you’d come across people like that in the world. There are no words to say how much I appreciate having a TP like this.
#2: See above for trails and Toby’s support!
#3: My friends, family, and everyone’s patience. You don’t get these things done on your own, and yeah, it takes a village: Thanks to all of you who shut up and didn’t tell me how crazy you thought I was running like that. It’s great that by now you know better and that’s all I needed. Thanks to all of you who supported me, helped me, and pushed me forward on those crazy days. And thanks to all of you inspire me, and to all of you who believed in me.

Ok, I now swear that I am done writing about Boston (for a few months??). I did 5 miles this morning, all back to normal!

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4 thoughts on “The Last Marathon Notes. I promise

  1. I came across your post while trying to figure out what to do with my IT band issue that started a couple of weeks ago. I am trying to train for my FIRST marathon and was going to run a 1/2 marathon on a slanted road and started experiencing pain miles 3-6 and so I decided to quit early so I wouldn’t further injure myself and not be able to run my marathon. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor that performs ARP on me and also I have been stretching and doing strengthening exercises on my glutes and hips. Its amazing how you were able to run through the pain. How bad was your pain? I tried running 3 miles yesterday and it started hurting and so I pushed through and finished.

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  2. Hi! I have been frantically googling ITB injuries in relation to Boston training and am so happy I found your page! (God bless internet archives). I’m training for Boston in 28(!!!) days now and this past weekend I ran 18 miles with a run group. I totally over-exerted myself trying to keep up with stronger runners and by mile 12 had to walk due to the sharp itb pain. Your article has been so helpful, but I’m just curious what you meant when your friend suggested to “get off the pavement.” Did you turn more to treadmills or trail running? I’m definitely taking numbers 2-5 to heart as well thank you again for all of your words of wisdom!

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    • Run on trails, or any soft surface. The treadmill is probably softer than any pavement but I don’t run on treadmills… you’ll be fine, if you’re super aggressive with the recovery you’ll be good in 2-3 weeks, just don’t waste a day, ok?

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