19 September 2010

21 days to go - slipping away

Mon: OFF
Tues: 45mins (av 5:30 min/km)
Wed: 60mins (av pace 5:15 min/km) - pain, pain, pain
Thu: OFF
Fri: 40mins (av 5:38 min/km)
Sat: 28k easy (av 5:05 min/km) - glute pain, over-compensate
Sun: OFF
Total 55k for the week

Not happy with how things are going at the moment - both physically and psychologically.

Went to see a sports doc early this week and after spending a couple of hours of various tests (treadmill video analysis, x-ray for stress fracture etc), he confirmed my & Epi's suspicion that the problem was anterior tibialis extensor tendonitis (left leg). As mentioned in my blog a month ago, I was having tight calf issues which affected some of my workouts, but did not cause any pain so I just ran through it. As a guy who is so damn lazy to stretch and prefer to rely on sports massage once every 1-2 weeks, I had one period where I trained hard for a full month without massage/stretching. The tight calf caused muscle imbalance and altered my biomechanics. Instead of the heel/mid-foot landing flat on the ground, the tight calf caused it to land half-tilted. As I unconsciously ran this way and continued to train hard, the tibia and extensor tendon got damaged and the pain goes all the way from ankle joint to the lateral shin since the tendon is inter-connected. The doc thinks probably it will take a few weeks of reduced running to fully heal and I might have to look at orthotics or alter my running gait to prevent it happening again.

After incorporating anti-inflammatories, massage, and ankle strengthening exercises this week, the pain seems to improve slightly by the end of the week. I decided to give myself an 'exam' in the form of long run. If I can last something around 32k, then I' rate myself  a good chance to make it to the starting line. At the end, I stopped the run at 28k which included breaks every 5k to give the leg some relief. Although, the anterior tibialis and extensor tendon issues were tolerable, but my right glute got very sore since it had to over-compensate my troubled left leg. I decided to stop due to tiredness (very warm morning) and the painful glutes.

Psychologically, I feel like Alice in a wreck land. With 5 weeks to go, I was all systems go and my body was ready to tackle 3 weeks of high mileage and sharpening workouts, followed by a 2 weeks taper. The injury changes everything and now I am looking at a premature 5 weeks taper. It is just so damn frustrating to look at my training log this week and being unable to do any runs faster than 5:00 pace. To make things worse, my last long run further than 30k was done 7 weeks ago, so unless things improve dramatically and somehow I can magically do 30k+ run in the next week or so, I would go to the start lime without any long runs in the last 2 months or so.

What's next? I just found out that although 10k and HM slots are full, but those who entered the marathon during the early bird/normal registration period can still downgrade. However, it seems there are conflicting deadline dates. In the Melbourne Marathon newsletter, it says that the last day to change event is 22 Sep (this Wednesday). On the flip side, the website says that changes are still allowed even until the race week. Will call the organizer to confirm.

Downgrading to the HM is an attractive option since 1) it allows me to manage and nurse the injury, 2) even with low mileage, I think I still have a chance to run a decent time, 3) no requirement to taper until the last few days (possibly means 2.5 weeks of hard training); and 4) easy to recover and I can still train/race until year end.

On the flip side, marathon is truly something special and sub-3 is like a sub-4 mile for a guy like me who picked up running in his 30s. Prior to the injury, I'd say my training was much better than my previous prep for Gold Coast and Seoul which yielded 3.04 and 3.03 respectively. So, sub-3 was certainly a chance, especially if the weather conditions, pacing, and fueling on the day are perfect. But now, I feel that chance is slipping away. I expect my finishing time to be volatile. On a good day, I possibly still can run 3.15 and under. On a bad day or in a situation where my legs can't hold up, I might be looking at 3.30-4.00 hour marathon. At this juncture, I am in no mood to do a marathon for sight-seeing unless if it is held in the Himalayas or Santorini.

In ideal world, I would like to delay my decision as late as possible, say until the race week in order to allow myself a chance to run the marathon. If they confirm the deadline is this Wednesday, more likely than not, I will downgrade to half mary barring any miracles. There is no marathon race planned until Gold Coast 2011 - which is 9 months away.

It is just amazing what marathon training can do for you. With 5 weeks to go, I was strong as bull, then bang !! - shit happened. I then virtually lost 2 weeks worth of training time. And now there are only 3 weeks left and the worse thing is that I might not train much at all :(


Epi said...

That sucks Sling.

I hope they let you hold off the decision for a while just in case it settles enough to let you have a good shot at it

Scott Brown said...

Very frustrating for sure sling but you are a young man, and have years of races in you yet. You'll be back for a decent crack at sub 3before too long!

by7 said...

very disappointing and frustrating....

but IMO, you should put an end to the idea of running in Melbourne...
you are doing more and more harm to your leg and delaying your recovery...

I know that for runner "there is only running"... but hang the shoes for a couple of weeks and use a bicycle instead...
with the bike you can do the same workouts as running and keep fit with no load to the leg.
It is much better to bike hard for the next 15 days than crawling at snail pace on a run

No point to be so negative... if you take 15 days off from running, you lose only a bit of fitness (provided u keep hard on X training...). No need to wait for Gold Coast next here !

there are so many nice marathons around in Winter which are just a short trip from Singapore:
- Macau
- Xiamen (early january... very flat)
- Japan (many)
- Seoul Korea in march

Sling Runner said...

Thnaks by7.

Unfortunately we have holiday trips planned in December and February, so I won't be able to do a marathon until 2Q.

trailblazer777 said...

Thats a solid long run, and a good maintenance week. i think if you could get past the injury somehow you are still a show for a sub 3. Unfortunately due to maybe the extremely large number of Half entrants, looks like decison time is now. Its a tough call, sometimes who dares wins. Maybe its worth the risk, you can always DNF or spectate if it doesnt come good on the day, if injury is going to derail the marathon, wouldn't it derail the Half too? or maybe not.

As others said, plenty more chances for the sub 3 later maybe...
Be sad if you are not there for the 42, but switch to the Half maybe the wisest decision, all the best whichever way you go.

trailblazer777 said...

I agree with By7 that cycling might be a better option for awhile, and delaying recovery by making injury worse might not be worth it...if it was me I'd be keen to talk to a good physio about the consequences of running on 10/10/10, and mapping out a proper recovery via cycling and whatever is useful in the coming weeks...that said hope we see you in Melbourne and hope you are able to race, but if you don't we totally understand why. Its just one race, there is many more to come...

Ewen said...

Sorry to hear this Sling. I guess it's a 50/50 call at this stage. Hope you get to hold off until later re switching to the half. If it's possible (you are pain free) to race the full, then go for it if there's no possibility of a marathon until next year. It'll be good experience for pacing etc, and you might run a PB, even if not sub-3.