Running a Marathon Injured
Earlier this year (yes, I know I’m blogging out of order), I was set to do the Blood, Sweat, and Beers night trail marathon with Desert Dash. I opted for the night marathon because spring is my busiest time at work. This way, I could get in a workday then run a marathon. It helps keep me balanced.
A few weeks before the marathon, I was feeling really good fitness-wise. Then, all the sudden I felt pain during a run in my lower back/glute area. I looked into and it turned out I had a piriformis injury. Lousy timing.
I speculated that this injury may have come about from a quick transition from a very active lifestyle to a busy time at work, sitting in an office for 13 hours+ per day. I started foam rolling and doing self-massage with a lacrosse ball. I even purchased a standing desk to avoid sitting so much! The hard part about working so much during business hours was that I struggled to find time to get an appointment with someone for a professional massage, active release technique (ART), or FST.
The injury slowly got better, but I am not a very patient person. I heard it could take weeks to fully heal. I took a full week off then trudged through some lousy training the week after. ART (once I was able to get in) really helped. The marathon was fasting approaching and I had to make a decision.
As a stubborn person (and you probably surmised from the title of this post), I decided to run the marathon. Yeah, it was a stupid choice but it was my choice.
The evening of the race turned out to be a beautiful one to run, the atmosphere was fun and friendly. There weren’t many of us running the night marathon. Some of us were fresh and others had run the day marathon and wanted to do a double (props to them!). As I started, I knew my piriformis wasn’t 100% but I hoped any discomfort would remain tolerable. The frustrating thing was that usually I love to pound the downhills, but I couldn’t because the piriformis helps stabilize you when the foot plants on a step. Oh well, I kept telling myself that being out there was better than being stuck in the office.
At the start of the race, I felt really good, but after about four miles, I knew my piriformis would be an issue. Fortunately, the pain remained tolerable. I ran up a tough group of switchbacks and felt really good. It was nice to be strong on the uphills. I just couldn’t make up time on the downhills. My body just wouldn’t let me. That was okay. I knew I would be limited and I was happy how things were going at that point. Then throughout the race, I got a side stitch. That was frustrating to add on top of the current situation. Then, my stomach started acting up. Then, I got a side stitch on the OTHER side. Sheesh. I thought it’d be nice if I only had to deal with the piriformis.
I rolled into an aid station about mile 23 and I think I was pretty grumpy by that time. A friend came up to check on me and ask me questions. I think I just mumbled some answers and his wife pulled him back a bit and kindly said, “Give him space.” I laugh about that now. I think I was within myself at that point. I was inside my own personal pain cave getting through this tough trail marathon.
I ended up finishing. Finishing was an accomplishment in itself for me that day. I ended up taking 2nd place out of the small field of runners.
Yes, it was still better than a day at the office.
Update: I got through the piriformis issue shortly after that. I’ve been feeling great and hopefully it doesn’t come back. I look forward to dealing this race again next year (healthy)!