Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marathon Brain

Three weeks and two days to go. But who's counting?

Okay, I am. I'm counting sleeps and runs and kilometres and times that I have to talk myself off a ledge. And I haven't even started to taper yet. Now that's going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

I'm down to sixteen sleeps (plus as many naps as I can justify), eleven runs and as many freak outs as I bloody-well like. Apologies for the language but sometimes anxiety can remove all my verbal restraints and make me act like I've had a frontal lobotomy. Or maybe it's a combo of the accumulated training fatigue plus the anxiety - henceforth to be known as marathon brain.

My marathon brain has had me do some strange things this week. Last night I managed to cook the tip of my finger. On a really hot pan. Trying to turn a piece of fish over. To the point where the skin feels hard and crinkly. It doesn't hurt. It has no feeling in it so I think I've burnt a couple of nerve endings. Not my finest moment in the kitchen.

It's the middle finger on my left hand and when I've gone to show people they've taken offence at my unintentional rude gesture. But I unfortunately have a bit of a reputation within my running squad for using this exact gesture  - only at Coach Chris and only ever to his face because to do it behind his back would just be rude!

For those of you who are a little unsure of what I'm talking about here's a demonstration by my good friend Jack who, like me, has a problem telling his left from his right.

I've also been engaged in that on-going argument in my head. The topic of this week's debate is the need to get the kilometres done versus the need to mollycoddle some niggles which MIGHT turn into full blown injuries. 

It's not my ITB this time that's causing the mental stress. All the hip strengthening exercises that I've been doing less-than-diligently-but-enough-to-make-a-difference seem to have helped there and I haven't had a twinge from my knee for ages.

I've managed to get a new niggle - my left Achilles tendon. I've self-diagnosed it as mild Achilles tendinitis with the help of Google and my absent almost-physio son. It's been letting me know it wasn't totally happy for a little while now and I'd been treating it nicely - stretching, strengthening (but not too aggressively) and rolling it out - but then taking it on 37k runs to make sure it knew who was boss.

Then Tuesday we did our speed session on an incline and this made my Achilles really angry. It bitched and moaned to me all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Then complained for the first two kilometres of Thursday's 16k before settling down and enjoying the run. But afterwards it was back to complaining. and I started to wonder whether it was wise to run my last 37k on Saturday.

Actually my brain doesn't just stop at missing a run. It immediately goes to the worst-case scenario which usually involves death. I know - it's an art to be able to jump from slightly tender Achilles to death but it's one of my many talents. Sore Achilles becomes ruptured Achilles needing surgical repair and I either die from an atypical and obscure anaesthetic reaction or get a multi-resistant bacterial infection which results in multiple amputations that fail to stem the rampant infection and that leads on to septicaemia, organ failure and me dying a painful horrible death. Either way I don't get to run the marathon. Which I've paid good money for.

So to prevent the imminent Achilles rupture and my subsequent death I decided to take action. I took some ibuprofen (which I try to avoid except at 'that' time of the month), used a heat pack to relax my calf and then I rolled it, did my eccentric calf raises, stretched then iced. And this morning I got out of bed gingerly, expecting the worse and already planning a tasteful but fun funeral (Is it inappropriate to ask that the toilets be locked for my funeral so that any mourner needing to use the 'facilities' has to go discreetly behind a bush? I personally think that would be a fitting tribute.) To my delight my Achilles felt okay. No twinges, just a little tightness which was no worse than the other leg.

So I guess I won't be ditching tomorrow's 37k. And I'm weirdly pleased that I don't have to. It's the first one that I haven't dreaded with every fibre of my being. I've done two already so I know I can make the distance - even though neither of those ones exactly filled me with confidence. Last week's was downright hideous. It was hot and humid and I started to feel sick around 29k. But I got it done! 

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be down around 12C (instead of the 20C that we started at last Saturday) so that's got to make it feel a little easier. And knowing it's the last of these really long runs certainly puts my head in a better space. And that's got to be good because my marathon brain only has the capacity to cope with good stuff at the moment - like unicorns and rainbows.


  1. The good stuff... well if you can run 37km in a training run then 42 in a race is going to be really easy. I run my marathon this weekend, 2 sleeps, and only 1 run (have already run this morning.) Now I was going to say the longest training run I've done is only 30km, but then we did run a 39km trail race last weekend! (proberly not the best way to start a taper week!!!) So you are going to be a lot more ready then I am.

    It's all rainbows... OK not here as it's still raining to much for the sun to pop out a bit to make those rainbows... I'll have to settle for a Unicorns, or for us here in Africa can I call on the Zebra!!!

  2. I think you are ready for your marathon. Your thoughts: I would have them too for such a big event. Come race day: you'll be fine! Keep having confidence in yourself.

  3. Hypochondriac!! Try some ice. For both your fingertip (it may be too late for that now) and the Achilles (not too late). The weather will only get better from here on out - I think you will kill the marathon, not the other way round!

  4. Excited for you! I'd say stay off the inclines with that achilles. Maybe topical magnesium would help? I used it when I strained my calf and it was a life saver. If it makes you feel any better we are burn sisters. I torched my thumb on steam from a crappy kettle. Holy wow is it ugly.

  5. SO glad to hear death is not imminent! ; )

    I've actually had some achilles issues off and on all summer. I've found that using the foam roller on my calf muscles post-run has made the most difference. But I will admit, that like you, I worry about rupture in the back of my mind! We're not spring chickens, you know, and I have heard too many stories of people our age rupturing!

    Hope the long run goes well.

  6. We're still fairly springy!!! I've had an ongoing Achilles problem for a long time - I just keep running and so far no rupture!!! It stays swollen 100% of the time, though - oh, well!!!
    I hope that the temperature is better for your long run this weekend and you don't get sick - and please don't die!!!
    Only 3 weeks and the madness will stop (at least for awhile!).

  7. You will be ready for the race day, Char ... If I were you I would have the same thoughts.

    With regards to your fingertip and the Achilles tendon, haven't you tried ice-therapy yet?

    I hope the weather conditions will be prefect for your long run this weekend :)

    Have a nice weekend!

    Post script: I've just meet a couple from Brisbane who were going to visit Rome

  8. Oh dear. Sorry about the AT. Dogged me for a long two cents:

    ICE ICE ICE. Right after running! Sooner the better!

    Not frozen peas on the skin either...get a plastic basic or bucket big enough for your foot and put ice water in it.the water makes the cold conduct to your tendon much much better. Dunk whole foot in (water high enough to go up your tendon some) until you can't take it, let it rest a while, back in that a few times. This keeps things from getting worse!

    The area that is usually triggered in your calf (causing too much tension on AT) is not one you can do well with the roller: it's the area right above the tendon where things are blending into the Soleus muscle. Grab it with your fingers and pinch it and tug it (learned this from the Sock Doc). my area there was hard as a ROCK.

    If you get up in the night and your calfs are so tight that your AT hurts walking barefoot, have some slippers with heel lift...

    Stretechs never helped me and have the potential to hurt.

    Chi running would help. Are you a runner that does a huge toe push off? I was...not any more!

    HTH! Everybody is different.....hang in there until the race!

  9. Oh forgot to mention: I met a guy at the 10k race from Austria that will be at the Melborne Marathon too..he said there were 55K people registered!!! That beats out Berlin and the other majors I think!

    I think you're fast enough that you'll be out of the crowds 8)

  10. So pleased that its gone away, make sure you take care of it so my black dress can stay in the cupboard!

  11. Wow! I am impressed with all your videos and stuff in your post. Where do you find what you need? Hope the 37 K was great!

  12. Here's the video from the "Sock Doc" about how to deal with AT:


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you.