Taking steps forward

IMG_4150I’m sitting in bed, watching TV and preparing for a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. It’s been about a month and a half since I first saw the doctor about my hip/adductor and today is, hopefully, my final follow up.

I’m not 100 percent yet, and I’m still slowly working my way back to running the type of miles and the type of workouts I need to to prepare for Chicago. I definitely feel better and I’m running more, but my hip still barks at me and my adductor/hammy still gets sore.

I’m not expecting anything too much from today’s appointment. It’s just a follow-up, a check-in, to make sure everything is heading in the right direction. I’m confident that things are heading in the right direction, even if I’m not getting better as quickly as I would like.

IMG_4158Last night was a step in the right direction. In the heat and humidity, I ran 5 miles, getting progressively faster for the first 30 minutes. I slowly worked my way down to a 7:38 per mile pace for the last five minutes. My hip took a bit of time to not feel stiff, but once it did, I didn’t really feel restricted. My adductor and hamstring felt pretty good, only feeling a little bit tired as the intensity picked up.

I made sure to cut the workout short while I still felt good. One of the mistakes I made earlier this year that led to this injury getting a little worse than I would have liked is running my workouts too hard. Steady state runs on Wednesday were all a little too fast and a little too long. Interval workouts were a little too hard and I always ran the extra rep. Recovery runs weren’t really recovery runs. Easy miles were a little faster than easy.

Basically, I got into my own head. When I feel good and I feel like I have to push as hard as I can. Well, it caught up to me. I wore down and a little tweak, a little niggle turned into something that hurt all the time because I pushed too hard.

In other words, I wasn’t smart enough to stay completely healthy.

That is the biggest thing I’ve learned from this setback: Don’t go over that edge. Push hard, train hard, yes, but I need to learn my limits. All the great workouts don’t mean shit if I get hurt and can’t run. It especially doesn’t mean shit if I get hurt and can’t race.

I’m making steps to get back to where I want to be. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of smarts. I can’t slack off on physical therapy or stretching or rolling. I have to listen to my body. I have to recover on recovery days and run easy on easy days. I have to push, but not push myself to a place of getting injured.

Today is another step forward. And that is where my focus needs to be, just keep taking steps forward.


Take it slow


5 miles on Sunday in the blistering heat isn’t the 14-16 I thought I’d be running right now, but it is where I’m at. I’m trying to play it smart, so I can get to Chicago in one piece.

When I’m not running as much as I would like with my goal marathon quickly approaching, I have a lot of time to think about that marathon. Lately, I’ve spent some time thinking about my goals for the Chicago Marathon and what this down time means for them.

Sunday, my brain went into hyperdrive when the training plan for the FleetFeet marathon class popped into my email. I browsed through the 12 weeks of training, set up for the Maine Marathon which is a week before Chicago, and the wheels started turning.

For months, before I tweak my hip flexor/adductor/hamstring, my goal for Chicago has been to finish in 3 hours, 40 minutes. When that schedule popped into my email on Sunday night, I thought about that goal, wondering if I had time to get myself back together and fit enough to chase it.

I did the math in my head:

• 11 weeks (turns out I was wrong and I’m 12 weeks out) to get myself 100 percent healthy.

• I need to run 8:23 per mile to finish in 3:40.

• How many miles can I run right now, and how long will it be before I’m running those 2 1/2-3 hour long runs?

Monday and Tuesday, a few more emails reminded me to pump the brakes and slow down. 


Saturday was super hot, too, and 4 miles was more than enough.

I had three physical therapy sessions after seeing the doctor about my hip, which focused on stretching and rolling to get my hip/adductor/hamstring to calm down a bit. The last session was two weeks ago, after which I was told to start running, but to take it easy. I was told I didn’t necessarily need to come back for more PT, but to keep them updated.

Monday morning I sent an email to the two people I worked with at PT with an update. I told them I ran 22 miles last week, that I was feeling better, but things were still a little sore. The response from both of them was: You are on the right track, but TAKE IT SLOW.

Of course, they are right, I just have to convince myself that it is OK to take it slow. Every time I start to think about my goals for Chicago, and how little I’m running right now, and how I’m not doing the work I think I need to to get ready to run my goal, I stop and read those emails. I’m remind that, yes, I need to run to get ready to run Chicago, but if I am not healthy, I won’t be able to run the race at all, so … TAKE IT SLOW.

It’s frustrating, after three great months of training, that I can’t just keep going, keep hammering miles and workouts. That’s not where I am right now, though. Things are starting to feel better, but if I’m not smart about it, the shit is really going to hit the fan and I won’t even be lining up in Grant Park on Oct. 13.

The solution to all of this is to try not to think about those lofty goals I set for myself. Yes, I still want to run 3:40 but is that realistic? I don’t know. Will I finally be able to erase that 3:47 off the chalkboard in my bedroom, which has been written on that chalkboard as my marathon goal for more than five years? I don’t know.

What I do know, is I can’t worry about that right now. I can’t let those numbers cloud my judgment and make me rush into stuff I’m not ready for. I remind myself of those three awesome months of training before I broke myself. I tell msyelf I haven’t lost all of that fitness. I remind myself that if I make this injury worse, instead of letting it heal, I can forget chasing any goals, I won’t be racing at all on Oct. 13.

I’m trying to convince myself that in order to have the opportunity to chase my big dreams in Chicago, I need to be smart and make it to Chicago. That training plan will be my guide, but I won’t be married to it. I’ll listen to my body, the aches and the pains, and try not to push myself to the point of break down.

I’ll remind myself to TAKE IT SLOW.

Slowly getting back on track

My plan for training for the Chicago Marathon didn’t look anything like this.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 6.35.24 PM

I figured at this point in training, with 11 1/2 weeks before the race, I’d be regularly running more than 40 miles a week, working my way up to 50 miles a week, and running double digits every Sunday.

Well, that isn’t exactly happening right now. That strained hip flexor which flared up my adductor/hamstring put a crimp in those plans.

The good news is, I’m on the mend and slowly starting to build back up. I had a run assessment at physical therapy last Wednesday and was told to start running again. Every other day to start, take it slow, don’t run very far, and see how it feels.

Thankfully, it is starting to feel better. My hip is still sore and my adductor still gets tired, but I’ve been consistent with my stretching and rolling, and it is helping. I had a sports massage Monday, which also helped. I ran 5 miles Tuesday and felt pretty comfortable, then ran with the FleetFeet marathon class on Wednesday, doing a six moderate hill reps in the middle of a 4-mile run. I was worried that was a mistake – too much too soon – but I feel OK today, so I’m not fretting.

5304a023-ce24-4231-bb8b-f430e1e449a2I still have a long way to go, I’m definitely not out of the woods yet, but this is progress. I know ramping up my mileage and jumping back into speed work too quickly will put me back on the shelf and I don’t have time for that, so I’m taking it slow. I rode the elliptical today instead of running and will probably take another full rest day this week (Saturday is supposed to be surface of the sun hot, so it might be a good morning to spend at the movie theatre).

What does this mean for my goals for Chicago? I have no idea. The way I figure it, I have 11 1/2 weeks to figure that out. Can I get healthy and fit enough to run that 3:40 or 3:47 I was planning on? I have no idea. At this point, I need to make sure I can get to the starting line in one piece, able to run the race. I’ll figure out a goal when I start running more.

Every time I think about where I’m at and where I want to be, I keep reminding myself that before this hiccup I had four months of pretty decent training and I have two months to get my shit back together. As long as I don’t lose all that fitness I built from February to May, and as long as I can get healthy enough to get back to decent marathon training in August and September, I should be OK.

I have a lot of work ahead of me, but that is what I wanted. That is what I signed up for. It’s no time to be lazy, no time to slack off. I’m not giving up on my lofty goals for Chicago just because I broke myself and needed a few weeks top put myself back together.

A moment of doubt


4th of July, training to slay the beast, but rolling and stretching and doing PT and NOT RUNNING.

Last week I said I wasn’t freaking out about being injured or how it is going to impact my training for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve reminded myself not to freak out because of all the reasons I stated last week.

On Wednesday, I had a bit of a meltdown.

I had my second physical therapy session Wednesday morning. I went in thinking I would get the OK to do a little running over the next few days, so I could start working my way back to training. After an hour of soft tissue massage, stretching, core work, rolling, all that jazz, I was told to not rush into running. I could try this weekend, once, but I need to take it easy and let this thing calm down a bit. In other words, don’t be a dumbass and make this worse by running.

I spent the rest of the day spiraling into a well of doubt and despair. Driving around Portland running errands, walking the Eastern Prom while everyone else in my running class was crushing a workout, I was telling myself a story I didn’t want to hear, asking questions I didn’t want to answer.

• When am I going to feel better again?

• When will I get to run again?

• Am I going to have enough time to get fit enough to reach my goal at Chicago.

• Am I even going to be able to run Chicago?

The answer to those questions, that’s the story I was telling myself.

• Probably never.

• Not pain free, buddy.

• No.

• Doubtful.

I know, I know. This is not the right frame of mind to be in. This is an obstacle and I have to find a way to deal with it and be better because of it, but that is not where my head was at Wednesday.

I have talked myself down a bit in the hours since that meltdown. I’ve talked with some friends and my coaches, and I realize that all is not lost. There is no reason to donate all my running shoes or cancel my flight and hotel for Chicago.

It’s just frustrating, after such a good build in February, March, April and May, to be on the shelf. I was well on the road to running that 3:47 I’ve been chasing for so long and that 3:40 I really think I’m capable of. Are those goals still realistic now that I haven’t run for nine days? Well, I don’t know.

What I do know is I can’t get those nine days back. I can’t travel back in time and not be injured. This is where I am right now, so I need to deal with it and do whatever I can to try to get ready for Chicago. If it works out and I run a killer race, awesome, but I can’t control that either. What I can control is stretch and roll every day, do my physical therapy every day, and listen to the medical professionals who are trying to get me right and keep me right.

And I can control not letting this send me slinking off to a dark room to hide out and drown my sorrows in green tea (sober life is the best life) and potato chips.

Something to prove to myself


Finishing up my warmup, just before my workout last Wednesday, which didn’t feel good and started the ball rolling on trying to start feeling better. 

Before I start, let me assure the three or four of you how read this (but more so I’m trying to assure myself), I’m not yet completely freaking out (don’t freak out, Scootah, everything is going to be all right in the end).

That being said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in my own head a little bit right now. That hiccup I wrote about last week – a strained hip flexor which is causing some other issues in my right leg – has kept me running from since I aborted my run 5 miles in on Sunday. I had a few OK runs before that, but mostly, running did not feel good for more than a week before that jog Sunday morning.

I say I’m not freaking out, because, like I said last time, I have more than 15 weeks left until the Chicago Marathon and I had four pretty good months of build up until I had to shut it down. I was in a pretty good spot before getting injured and I will have time to build off that once I’m healthy and able to start training (that comes after I’m able to start running) again.

But I’m in my head a little bit because I’m little disappointed in myself. I wrote a while back about how I almost gave up on the marathon after Sugarloaf. I decided not give up on that distance because I didn’t want Sugarloaf to be my lasting memory of the marathon.

If you asked me, however, why it was so important for me to run another marathon, the most honest answer I could give is that I want to prove to myself I can do all the necessary work to get ready for a marathon.

The Chicago will be my fourth marathon and the fifth I have “trained” for. I put trained in quotation marks because I didn’t really train for my first. I trained for a half marathon, then did one 3-hour long run after the half and called it good (I ran 4:47 for a reason). I made it through training for Chicago 2014 just fine, though I only trained for that race for like 13 weeks and I took a break to move to Portland. I planned to run the Maine Marathon in 2015, but jacked up my hamstring and my adductor (which is part of my problem right now), and had to bag it. I made it through training for Maine in 2016 just fine and ran my best marathon to date. The build for Sugarloaf was going better than I could have hoped until I re-aggravated that adductor/hamstring. I spent a few weeks riding the exercise bike, still tried to run the race I was originally training to run, and fell flat on my face.

You see a trend there? Yeah, me too. Two of three marathon builds before this one, I wound up injured and either bagged the race or drove the struggle-buss for 10-plus miles.

Both times I got injured because I did something dumb to get injured (a faster-than 5K workout in the middle of a 9-mile run, for example) and didn’t do enough of the other work (which is also dumb) to stay healthy. My goal this time around was to avoid being stupid and do all the hard work necessary to make it to the finish line healthy, strong, and ready to kick the shit out of 26.2 miles. I’m not saying I can’t make it to the starting line on Oct. 13 healthy and ready to kick ass, but I’m clearly injured right now and that is the result of doing something dumb (trying to jump to a stand doing pushups is how I believe I injured my hip flexor) and not doing enough stretching, rolling and strength work to keep my body in one piece.


Thursday morning I spent an hour at the gym doing all the stuff I don’t do enough and end up injured.

There is a chance for redemption here. My race isn’t so close that I’ll run out of time to get healthy. I should have enough time to get over this pain, get back on the roads, and train enough to run a decent marathon.

It’s also a kick in the ass to do the stuff I always say I’m going to do and never do. Right now, I can’t really do anything else and I’m paying to go to physical therapy, which should be motivation enough to STOP FUCKING SLACKING.

So, I’ll try to keep the freaking out to a minimum. I’ll try to get out of my head and stop beating myself up. I can’t fix what I’ve already done, I can only try to be better moving forward.

I still have time to prove to myself I can do the work to run a decent marathon, so it’s time to stop dwelling on the dumb stuff, be smarter, and do the damn work.

My first hiccup

IMG_3566.jpgIt wasn’t 12 miles at marathon pace, or the 40-minute progression run, or the fast finish long run, or even the 50 steady state minutes that threw the first wrench into my training for the Chicago Marathon. Nope, it was a set of 20 pushups.

About a week ago, I was doing pushups during a break at work. When I was done, while still in the plank position, I lifted my right foot toward my right hand, trying to hop into a standing position when … ouch, that didn’t quite feel right. There was a tug in my right hip. A quick, sharp pain.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, because that quick pain went right away. Over the next few days, I felt a dull ache in there from time to time, but nothing that alarmed me all that much.

Then Friday morning, I went out for an hour run with 6-8×2 minutes on/off mixed in. My left knee was sore because it is always sore, but then my adductor on my right leg felt super fatigued and my hip started to hurt just a bit. After six reps, I called it a day.

Saturday I jogged for a little bit and felt OK, but my hip felt tight after. Sunday I jogged for an hour and 40 minutes and more of the same. Monday was more of the same for 40 minutes. Tuesday was a rest day and Wednesday was that 50 minute steady state run. Warming up, my hip was kind of sore, not quite feel right. During my run, my leg felt tired.

I tested it out this morning and still just don’t feel quite right, so I finally decided that instead of pushing myself into a hole I can get out of, I needed to go get this thing checked out.

The initial diagnosis is a strained hip flexor. Nothing is broken or torn (at least that is the thinking right now), and that is obviously good news. Also, I was told it was OK to run if it didn’t cause me too much discomfort. If anything, the doc said to lay off the intensity for a bit, but she wants me to keep running (if I can without it causing pain) so that I can have some fitness for when I’m ready to ramp the intensity up again in preparation for Chicago. I’m also going to start physical therapy, which is great because I love PT and it will hopefully get me over this shit. The doctor did say the PT may have a different idea on whether I should run or not.

I’m not freaking out (yet) about this, for a couple of reasons. First, I have built a pretty good base and Chicago is still more than 16 weeks away. A couple of down weeks should derail me too badly. Second, I’m going to be doing extra work to get this hip healthy and maybe help out a few other areas (my achey knee) as well.

Marathon training is hard and I figured there would be a few hiccups along the way. I didn’t expect to jack up my hip doing pushups but I’m old, broken, and clumsy, so … shit will happen. It’s time to be smart, take care of myself and not do anything dumb (like run that half marathon I’m signed up for on Saturday). There is plenty of time to put myself back together and get in shape for Chicago.

I’ll be more careful when I do pushups from now on.

Minus-18 weeks to Chicago


Sunday morning I spent an hour and 40 minutes running around the Atlantic Ocean, working on my fitness and feeling gratitude.

There is a countdown clock on the home page of the Chicago Marathon’s website, which I could check to see how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left until race day.


I don’t need to look.

img_3910I’m well aware that the Chicago Marathon is 122 days, 20 hours, 55 minutes and 30 seconds (as I write this) away. I’m a little obsessed with those numbers and I’m starting to think that is a bad thing.

Obviously, I’m well aware of when the marathon is. It’s the one important race on my schedule, the one race I care about the most, the one thing I’ve geared all of my training for since I found out I was picked in the lottery in December. Clearly, I want it to be a good day and it is important I get myself into a good spot to have a good day. I have a big goal (smashing that 3:47 goal I’ve had for almost six years and running 3:40), but more than anything, I want to prove to myself I can do the work necessary to run a marathon and not fall apart.

But I’m worried about it becoming too important. I don’t want to miss the joy of the journey to Chicago and make myself miserable this summer, worrying about workouts and mileage and every niggle that makes me a little bit uncomfortable. I don’t want this year and that day that is 122 days, 20 hours, 53 minutes and 52 seconds away to be ruined if I don’t have the best possible race. Because, frankly, there is a pretty good chance I don’t have the best possible race. A lot of that is out of my control, if I’m completely honest with myself.

So today as I stand here looking out the window, writing this post and mentally preparing myself for a workout (40 minute progression run, which should be super fun) this evening, I will also remind myself to enjoy the journey. Don’t obsess over how much time I have left to get ready for the race, how prepared I actually am for the race, and how much the months, weeks, days and hours worth of work left freaks me out a little bit (OK, more than a little bit).


Saturday morning I had some easy miles on the schedule, so I took a ride to East End Beach and enjoyed the scene because it’s important to enjoy the process a little bit.

I probably sound like a broken record, but it is important that I remind myself (I write these blogs more for myself than any one of the five people who might read this anyway) to have some fun, take each workout and each run on its own, and not to be overwhelmed by the process. To be successful, I need to focus on the process of doing what I have to do on that day, and not worry about what is going to happen in 122 days, 20 hours, 48 minutes and 3 seconds. That day is why I am doing all of this work, but if I let that one day become the end all be all, I’m surely going to be disappointed, no matter what happens.

Work hard today, enjoy today, work hard tomorrow, enjoy tomorrow. It’s as simple as that.

October 13 with be here soon enough, I don’t want to let the months, weeks, days, hours and seconds leading up to it be a miserable experience and I don’t want to let it slip by without relishing in what I’m doing, what I’m trying to accomplish, what I am accomplishing when I put in the work.

I’ll freak out enough on race day, no need to spend the next 122 days, 20 hours, 43 minutes and 2 seconds freaking out.