I keep thinking back to the weeks and days leading up to the race, even race day itself, and all the little things I might have done differently. Would have, could have, should have. Then I think of the things I did post-race that prolonged my injury. I get frustrated that I didn't do things differently. Would have, could have, should have. I can't change any of that now so I can only move forward and learn from my mistakes.
- Don't neglect strength training - For years I've consistently strength trained 2-3 days a week. During the summer when I was increasing my mileage for Marquette I kept up with it, even if it was only 1-2 days a week. Once the school year started and time was limited, something had to give and unfortunately strength training fell to the wayside. On cross training days (Monday) I opted for cycling to flush out lactic acid after long Sunday runs. While this was important, so is strength training and come race day, I paid the price in my ITB.
- Foam roll and stretch during taper week - My muscles were definitely tighter than they should have been and thinking back, I probably only used the roller twice in the week before the race. I didn't go to a yoga class or even do much yoga on my own.
- Warm up before the race - Other than my running/jumping/pushing/ swearing to get to the start of the race (you can read about it in my race report), I didn't get in an actual warm-up run. That means I started the race on a chilly morning at a 7:26/mile pace without being properly warmed up. And then ran a marathon. No wonder I felt ITB pain at mile 16!
- Be sure your shoes aren't worn down - I don't do well with tracking the mileage on my shoes because I have two pairs of Brooks Adrenalines that I alternate between. In choosing which pair to wear on race day, I should have looked at the treads (rather than picking my favorite purple pair which I'd already run one marathon in). I didn't even look at the treads until one week post-race at RUNdetroit when I showed them to Alia, one of the store owners. The look on her face said it all. Yes, another likely reason for ITB pain. I left the store with a new pair of shoes tucked under my arm. (NOTE: When I got home and looked at my green Brooks, the treads were just fine. Well sh*t.)
- Get a sports massage ASAP - I thought I was being smart by scheduling a deep-tissue massage a couple of days after the race. I went to a spa that provides all types of services. I told the massage therapist what to focus on and she did; however, I didn't feel she spent enough time on my problem areas. A week later I went to a place that does ONLY massage and had a sports massage. The massage therapist not only massaged but also stretched my legs and used organic oils specific for pain. She spent an hour just on my legs! It was the most painful massage of my life but I also felt about 90% better afterwards. I will never have a massage at the spa again!
- Rest - By rest I mean not only rest from running but also SLEEP. I didn't get enough sleep after the marathon and the cold that I had during the race turned into a terrible cough. Maybe that would have happened anyway but more sleep wouldn't have hurt.
- Listen to your body - I was hearing from a lot of people about when I should run again after the marathon. Some people think you should wait two weeks. Other people don't understand why you aren't ready to run in two days! I took the first week off and thought I was ready to go back but then I jumped back in too far and too fast. I was back at square one. So on week two I took it much slower. Yoga, stretching, easy cycle. That painful sports massage. After Marquette I was ready after about 3 days without any problems. Initially I felt this race recovery would be the same but with so many different factors, that wasn't possible. Treat every race individually. Don't compare.
A wise man recently told me, "A good lumberjack only has one scar." Don't be afraid to take a risk but don't be stupid and make the same mistake twice. One injury is enough. Heal properly before easing back in. I've learned my lessons and now I will move on, a little smarter and more realistic than I was before.
No more would haves, could haves, or should haves. I'll run forward, perhaps a little more slowly at first. One mile at a time. In my sweet new shoes.
Have you been injured after a race? Needed a longer recovery time than expected? Share your story!