Back in the spring, I was training for the 2016 Ottawa Marathon. When training began, I was only a few months postpartum (Lennon wasn’t quite 10 months old on the day of the race) and I was exclusively breastfeeding during the first part of my training cycle. I was on a pretty intense training schedule, and began ignoring things I knew I should have been paying attention to – core strengthening, cross-training, body work…you name it, I wasn’t really doing it, other than running.
I thought that not running on rest day and inconsistent trips to a chiropractor and massage therapist, combined with a handful of stretches was good enough for ‘recovery’ – which, is definitely not the case when preparing to run a marathon.
Especially after just giving birth.
When it rains…
Halfway through training, I ended up spraining my SI Joint when I hopped off of an irregular curb – the landing, combined with all of my loose ligaments and core weakness was really the perfect storm. At the time, my world was crumbling and I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was 10 weeks out from running a marathon and I couldn’t even walk properly. At the time, I felt like it was the worst thing to ever happen to me, but when I look back on it, it was actually one of the best things that could have happened to me. Without this injury, I wouldn’t have understood the impact of childbirth on my body, even though I had gone through all of this before, and I also would probably underestimate what my body needs to support the load of marathon training.
The light at the end of the tunnel
It takes a village! I started going back to my chiropractor and massage therapist. I found an amazing physiotherapist that specializes in running injuries. I got to enjoy the wonderful world of dry needling (honestly, amazing). I followed a core strengthening routine. I committed to stretches I saw in Hit Reset by Erin Taylor of Jasyoga. I drank tart cherry juice like a boss – thanks to Lauren Fleshman. I was soaking in epsom salts and icing my body when needed. I tried foam rolling, which, to be honest, I really struggled with until I got my hands on some different products from Addaday.
I’ve been using the Type C massage roller on a regular basis and it was love at first roll. The rollers rotate and dig in deep to work out those nasty little fibres that get stuck. The pressure is easy to control and the rollers help to pinpoint specific areas that need the most attention. I log a lot of miles, and I found that using this roller has really helped keep my legs fresh and has eliminated a lot of the soreness I was experiencing with higher mileage. To my kids, this roller is the newest item in their Jedi tool belts 😉
Getting some R&R
It’s better to take an extra rest day than it is to push through a run when you feel like an injury or illness is brewing. Think about it this way – would you regret skipping a run? Or would you regret pushing through on the running, and ending up injured? Sometimes the wisest choice is to set the training plan aside for a day and give your body the rest it needs. I was out of marathon training for 6 weeks, and I made it to the start line on race day. There were a number of days where I wanted to push through because I could tolerate the pain, but I knew that all those steps forward would mean nothing if I didn’t give my body a break.
I started listening to my body – really, really listening to it. I started making recovery just as much a priority as the miles I logged. I feel stronger, I run faster, and I feel better in general. I hope that the lessons I learned will help me do my best to prepare for the Boston Marathon in April, as well as the other races on my radar – NYC Marathon 2017, Ottawa Race Weekend 10k and half marathon. There’s a whole new meaning to R&R now – run and recover!