Since I broke my three toes on Christmas, I’ve been struggling to get back into a running rhythm. Anyone who has broken toes can tell you just how painful this injury can be. I thought I had it under control as I pushed through on the elliptical in my boot and running on the treadmill with super wide shoes. I laughed in the face of this injury and anxiously awaited warmer weather to get back outside. Sometimes though, life has other plans.
Following my first outdoor runs, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be so easy. I felt like the months of easy treadmill runs did little to maintain my conditioning. I felt like my foot and ankle were in a constant state of pain. I felt like it was two steps forward, three steps back. I felt like my head was spinning with the bullshit stories I tell myself. Finally, I felt like I had to pull up my bootstraps and get this fixed. My plans were in need of a major revision.
First, I needed to address the pain in my ankle because that is super scary to me. I do not ever want to have that surgery again. I think I knew the trigger for the ankle pain. Over the winter, I was trying to switch over to zero drop shoes and believe this was putting unnecessary pressure on my peroneal tendon. The shoes seemed to work fine on the slow runs on the treadmill, but outside training was just not the same. I’m now back in my trusted Hoka shoes and hoping I didn’t do any damage to the tendon.
Next, my toes are still causing some pain in my foot. This concerns me greatly and I’m hoping there’s no nerve damage. I’m trying to incorporate the yoga toes pose back into my cool down protocols, as well as foam rolling religiously and hoping this will help. If not, I definitely need to get an MRI in the coming weeks.
Finally, I definitely needed to revise my pre training plan to build up my strength for running. I’ve been trying to get off some extra pounds gained during the long winter break. Not too bad, just need to get about 10-15 off for my optimum running weight. This week I’m down 5 pounds using the Weight Watchers app to track my eating. Again, not a fan of plans but chose this one because I can eat real food that I cook. I don’t agree with the severe limiting of healthy fats, but I’m incorporating what I know is right for my body with the plan and so far it’s keeping me honest about my food choices.
I’m using the Couch to 5K app to warm up my body and am on week 2 of the plan. The pain in my ankle is still there at night, but I do feel like it’s subsiding. As I do the couch to 5K plan (similar to the one I just finished, Run for Weight Loss, but less intense) I reflect on the walk/run strategy. For now, I think this may be just the perfect revision to my running training.
Run/walk programs are an effective training method that can help increase fitness. The stigma attached to it is that it’s not “real running”. This stigma overlooks the fact that when alternating running with walking, you decrease the amount of impact on your body and potentially decrease risk of injury. Further, using this strategy you recover quicker from your workouts as your body has built in recovery breaks. It is also a form of interval training and can increase caloric burn during your workouts.
Running as we know is a high impact sport. The continuous use of any muscle used the same way (running long in my case), increases muscle fatigue more rapidly. Continuing to run with fatigued muscles, will greatly increase the chance of injury. Knowing this it makes total sense to me to use a run/walk program to build my fitness for the marathon. During the walk portion of run/walk, your body has a chance to recover – both heart rate and muscular recovery. Walking using different muscle groups than running and allows for some muscular recovery during these sessions.
Run/walk interval training is easy to implement. Basically you run for a designated portion of time, followed by walk period, then repeat the cycle a certain amount of times. The free couch to 5K app tells you when to run or walk. I find myself looking forward to those beeps during my runs now. I was worried I’d have trouble running after a walk period, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I look forward to the run beep knowing it’s only for a short period of time. Mentally this method is motivating and the time flies by. My pace is even slightly faster over the long runs as when fatigued my pace tends to slow down to a crawl, often slower than a walk pace.
I’m excited to see if this method helps me get back on track without pain, or injury. Are there any run/walk converts out there that want to share their story? I’d love to feature your story here in an upcoming blog. Let me know and please feel free to leave a comment below. Looking forward to hearing your stories.
Great read to learn more about this method of training: