I have finally stopped my dithering and signed up for two up coming events, the Kielder Marathon on Sunday 7th of October, and the 38 mile Jedbrugh Three Peaks Ultramarathon three weeks later on the Sunday 28th of October.
Why the dithering? The Plantar fasciitis in both feet and right knee pain that arose at the beginning of August still hasn't cleared up. These injuries are slowly getting better, but slowly isn't ideal when you have races coming up. For the last month I've stepped off the intensity and distance in training, and added daily foot massage and stretching to help the healing process. This has helped but progress is slow making it difficult to know exactly when the injuries will be fully healed.
Plantar fasciitis is known to be an injury that can take time to heal so I'm certainly not alone with these troubles, and I have to be realistic in my expectation of them being fully healed in the next three weeks - i.e. I'd be very lucky for them to be fully healed. This leaves me pragmatic question - will my injuries be healed enough to know I'm not taking a big risk of exacerbating an injury in running in an event?
For the last six weeks I've been balancing the reward of doing events vs risking further injury. I ran the Killin 10k with my feet tapped up and did a PB and got away without making the injuries worse. However, I had planned to run the Aberfledy Marathon following Saturday and as the week progressed the Plantar Fascia's didn't improve as hopped, and right on the Thursday before the I did a 4 mile marathon paced test run and my feet just didn't feel good enough to handle 26 miles on the road so I canned entering the event. This was hard to do as I knew given my training and 10k PB I was shape to set a big PB for the marathon. The Shakespeare quote "Discretion is the better part of Valour", and the "Live to fight another day" phrase were using coming to terms with missing out on a PB.
So Fight Another Day (or two) I will, the 7th and 28th October it will be!
Now I've entered I can stop worrying about whether I'll be fit or not and just get on with preparation for doing both events and making sure I'm in the best shape I can be for each event. If I were just focussing on the Jedburgh Ultra I'd be planning to do a final marathon distanced run three weeks before so the Kielder marathon fits perfectly for this. The proximity of another big race after the Kielder marathon will also change my mental state for the marathon - it'll be as much a last big training run as a race, so I'll have it in mind not to push to hard or take too many risks. I tend to get overly anxious before big races and struggle to sleep, so taking some pressure off may well help my performance and subsequent recovery.
My plan is focus of getting myself fit for the Kielder Marathon, and not worry about specific training for the Jedburgh Ultra - as long as I complete the Marathon in good shape then I'll be all set for the Ultra. My primary concern with getting "fit" for the marathon will be primarily about healing my Planta Fascia and my right knee, and secondly about maintaining the aerobic fitness that I built up during first half of the year.
I've been tracking my efficiency (calories per mile) on training runs using my HR monitor through the year and know that my fitness has slipped around 5% over the last month. I think this is combination of having a bit of cold over the last few weeks and backing off on the weekly mileage (down from mid 40 mile's per week to mid 25's). I would dearly love to be able to get my efficiency back up to where it was in time for the Kielder Marathon, but this can't come at the cost of not healing my injuries.
This leads one on to the question of how best to train and aid injury recovery. Do I add cross training, if so what type is best for Planta Fascii and Knee injuries? Do daily short runs or longer runs with days of rest in between? Do I curtail specific types of such long runs, fast runs and hill runs? Do I add particular stretching or strengthening exercises?
I don't have any answers yet, feel free to make suggestions :-)
My current approach is to do modest test runs of different types to see how my body responds during the run and the subsequent recovery in hours and days after. Whether my injuries get better or worse or just stay the same will hopefully give me a guide to what I can safely do.
While I am a bit anxious about injuries I know I'll be it pretty good shape, in fact even if nothing changes from today I'll the best shape I will ever have been on entering a Marathon. I could do an easy jog around Kielder Water and beat my time of 3:55 set last year, and beating my PB of 3:32 set back at Edinburgh Marathon in spring of 2010 should be well within reach. I'll do a follow up post to provide some estimates on what time I might be able to do...
For now I'll not worry about details and allow myself to get a little excited about just getting out there and running, Kielder Marathon and Jedburgh 3 Peaks Ultra here I come!! ;-)