Tuesday, March 20, 2012

27 days till Boston: "How to train for a marathon WITHOUT running."

March 19, 2012
27 days till the Boston Marathon.

I've been training for the Boston Marathon for a little over two months now, and I'm in the midst of the heaviest training I will do in preparation for marathon day.  The catch is: even now in the peak of my training, I'm not running more than 6 kms at any one time.  Are you scratching your head?  Yeah, I don't blame you.

When I was training for the Boston Marathon last year, I didn't think I could possibly experience more drama in the training process.  I was suffering from a pesky (and concerning) pain in my groin that was causing the same symptoms as a bone fracture.  With only six weeks left to go until race day 2011, I was told to stop running, and had to complete all of my heaviest training exercises on the bike and in the gym.  I was ecstatic when, come marathon day, I was able to not only complete the marathon, but run a personal best and qualify for Boston 2012.

Fast forward a year, and I find myself suffering from the same injury once again, only this year I know the reason for the pesky pain.  My "pain in the butt" (literally) is caused by bursitis and calcification on my hamstring and adductor.  Sounds complicated, no?  All that needs to be said is that I have experienced pain with every strike of my left foot since my training began in January.  

With a diagnosis in hand, the prognosis was inevitable: stop running!  Stop running?  Are you kidding me?  But I NEED to run this marathon!  I WILL run this marathon!  With more than 10 weeks left in my training plan, the doctors advised me that I need to stop running or find myself in unbearable pain come race day.  I'm lucky to have a small team of medical Jedi's on my side - directing me to a variety of treatments designed to get me in "better" shape for the race.  I've had shock wave therapy shot into my adductor to break up the calcium deposits, and deep tissue massage that has brought tears to my eyes.  I've even had cortisone injections in my hamstring. (you know you're serious about a race when you'll face a three inch long needle in the toosh to relieve some pain.)  I've been replacing all of my runs with cross-training ever since mid-January.  Hour after mind-numbing hour spent on spin bikes, ellipticals and stair machines to try to build my endurance in preparation for the day I need to run 42 kms.  

Yes, I am the marathon runner who doesn't run.  What an unenviable moniker that is...

Ain't no mountain high enough!  I have always subscribed to this doctrine when it comes to my running - even when the obstacle is not to run at all.  It takes a lot of faith to train for a marathon without running.  I would be lying if I said that I haven't doubted my progress on more than one occasion.  But here I am: 27 days until race day, and I'm STILL keeping the faith.  Luckily spring has arrived early, and I have been able to get some great workouts in on the bike, but there is still much to do...and only 27 days left to do it in.

Tomorrow brings another day of faith, determination and sore legs.  One more day closer to the big test.  I guarantee I'll make it to the start line, but will I make it to the finish?

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