The effects of Marathon training on my body

Here it is week 10 of my marathon training.. that means my race is just 8 weeks away, which is fairly close on the horizon now. If anyone would have asked me a year ago if I would be training to run 26.2 miles, I would have wavered a bit in my answer. But after some careful thought, and lots of excellent training with Coach Caleb Masland, I knew it was within my reach. What I didn’t expect, were all the ways my body would react to the training itself, both good and bad.
Training basically encompasses a lot of different types of runs, some core workouts, and for me, cycling. Many people swim also, but I don’t care for that one. Week by week Caleb sends me my workout which will have the three types I mentioned above, and these vary from week to week. Speed workouts, hill workouts, easy runs, and long runs… all are part of the plan. Upper body work, lower body, and core workouts are a big part of the overall picture. To be an effective runner, you need to have a strong core to be able to hold yourself erect after the long miles take their toll on the body. If you are slumped over and dragging, it makes it so much harder. I can feel that the core work that I have done, has helped tremendously in helping me run with better posture. The one thing I still fight with constantly is to keep my chin up when running. I tend to look at the ground and that is harder on my neck, and closes my airway down a bit and makes my breathing more labored. Any of you that have run with me will know that I am a very loud breather, and I am very self conscious about it. After a couple of miles, I  tend to get into my zone and then it comes a lot easier and I don’t have to struggle any more.
I have tried to vary where I run. It’s so easy to just get into the same rut, week after week. I have 4 areas where I tend to go, and I try to make sure I take advantage of them all. The only one I haven’t done yet this year, are the city trails. Since I run on the main roads, the traffic can be a real issue, especially when the nearby college is in session. So many times I have seen people talking on cell phones, texting or just not paying attention and they come a little too close to me on the road. I am always aware of their eyes, and hands. If I see someone who hasn’t seen me.. I am ready at any moment to jump over a guardrail. I haven’t had to yet, but have come close a couple of times. I always run facing traffic for that reason.
Ok, now to talk about the effects of this strenuous marathon training. It’s no surprise that I am 52, and overweight. My weight varies between 210 and 220lbs. Depending on my training for the week, sometimes it’s up and other-times it’s down. Since I started running, my blood pressure has been very well controlled. I recently gave up my diuretic (water pill) because I found that it was making me too dehydrated. Dehydration in a runner can be very serious or deadly if not treated immediately. I sweat a lot, and lose a lot of salt. I have a special mixture that I put into my water for my runs, which has the salt and electrolytes I need to replenish. This fantastic tasting powder is called “TailWind“. Coach Caleb recommended this to me, and I’ve never looked back. It comes in a couple of different flavors and there is even a caffeinated version!
Physically I have had some challenges a long the way. The first one has been that I had surgery on my right ankle in 2010. I had to have a piece of a tendon removed, and a graft put in its place. This has caused me to have a fair amount of pain and swelling every now and then, depending on the shoes and environment for that day.
I started having knee pain months ago, and found out that I have the start of arthritis and a degenerative meniscus tear in my right knee. Once I got that taken care of, it settled down and hasnt really bothered me since. I have to just be careful about shoe choices and the camber (slanting) of the road, which sometimes sets it off. When I had knee xrays done, we discovered an abnormal growth of bone in my Tibia (lower leg bone). More xrays done, and turns out that I probably had stress fractures from shin splints, that were never treated and the bone reacted by doubling it’s outer layer. I was prone to shin splints a lot when I started my longer runs over 4 miles. Took a long time for the pain to go away.. and I guess I know now, why that was. So the moral on that one is, if you have shin splints that last more than a day or two, get it checked out by a doctor! My orthopedic doc will check my lower leg every 4 months or so for a while to make sure there isnt something else going on in there, and I am ok with that.
The latest issue in the saga of bodily aches and pains is that I have developed calcifications in my Achilles tendon, on the same foot as my prior surgery. I tend to have very tight calf muscles, and the extra pulling on the achilles has caused the bone to react down in one area on my heel where the achilles attaches. Here is the xray done yesterday, that shows the build up of calcium. This is very painful to touch, and it hurts when running. I have been putting up with this for over a month now, and yesterday I finally found out what was causing the pain. Now the plan is to get lower leg massages once a week, use my foam roller to get the kinks out of my calves, and use heat to try and keep the blood flowing in that area. There isnt a lot of blood flow there, so the body can have a hard time to repair itself.. thus anything I can do to boost the recovery is good.
Ok.. so even though I have had these little issues, I am still doing fantastic, and my training is moving right along. Tomorrow I will do 18 miles with a friend.. this will be the first time that I have run a long distance with someone. I am used to doing it alone, and I hope that he will have the patience to put up with me not talking! 😉 I have to focus and concentrate when I run, so chatting will not be easy.
Will I ever do another marathon? That remains to be seen. If this race, the Maine Marathon, goes well, then I am thinking about doing the Sugarloaf Marathon in the spring. The hard part about that is training on a treadmill in the winter. The Maine roads are a mess the majority of the time around here, and there isnt a lot of room for runners and cars. I have to be very selective about when I go out during that time. The excitement of doing another race is definitely there, and I am sure I will want to do another one. I equate this to childbirth.. when youre going through it, the last thing you want to do is think about having another child! But afterwards, when you see that beautiful little baby in your arms, that disappears and you want another.  I’m sure that after I have that medal hung around my neck, I will want to feel that amazing accomplishment again!
For those of you that have actually read all of this, and have run a marathon or Ultra’s, please feel free to leave me some pointers below. I read everyone’s messages that are left and will respond if you leave me a way to contact you.
Happy Running!
This article was originally posted by Louise Cunningham on

4 responses to “The effects of Marathon training on my body”

  1. Yikes that x ray looks scary! Running does take its toll sometimes. I’m battling a few little injuries myself. Good luck with the training!

  2. Amy C says:

    I hope your weekly massages help! You are rocking it!