My 1/2 marathon story and a few tips

How I started running

About a year ago, I started to run to achieve a better level of cardio fitness.  I had been a semi-avid P90x person for about 5 yrs, but there are only so many crawly plyo pushups one can do without looking for a few other alternatives.

Running had always seemed SO BORING to me.  The main runs I would do were on the treadmill.  To me the only thing more boring than running on a treadmill is probably pulling a slot machine in Vegas.   This all gradually changed for me once I started running outside at lunchtime with a few friends.  Not only was the change of environment stimulating, but I found it to be a great full body workout.  The after effects for me at work were also a huge benefit as I had a much better mental focus for the rest of the day.  Apart from this, my sister had started to run as well, and she was starting to run long distances and compete in 1/2 marathons and I just couldn’t let her have all the fun.

My 1/2 Marathon Experiment

So this year I decided to train for a 1/2 marathon too.  I had a few motivations : I wanted to push through some personal barriers, I wanted to experience better cardio fitness, and I loved the zen like feeling that running brings.  The early training leading up to the marathon was not too bad for me.  I was doing anything between 2-6 mile runs with little to no recovery required the next day.  This was mainly due to the fact that I did p90x3 workouts daily and they kept me in decent shape.  This all changed once I went past the 7 mile barrier and beyond.  I started noticing little things like foot soreness, some mild knee pain and some general overall aches.  As a few months passed and I was continuing the training I developed something called runners knee.

Unfortunately it got worse as my 1/2 marathon approached.   While I did not experience outright pain, I experienced extreme tightness on my inner left knee.  I took it easy the week prior to the race, but unfortunately on race day my situation wasn’t too much better.  I had tried all sorts of remedies without much success … icing, tape, yoga, rest, advil but none of these really seemed to address the issue.  so on race day, I ended up gutting it out and finished the race, but my time suffered and I was very sore.

The Aftermath and how Foam Rolling is AWESOME

So I took it easy for literally a month after this race, but what was concerning to me was that my knee was not getting better.  I had searched the internet for recommendations regarding a sore inner knee, but nothing I found was really a cure all.  Most sites said rest , maybe some physical therapy.  Some recommended some workouts to strenghten quads and the hips (which I had already been doing), but nothing seemed to be addressing the issue until I came upon a few sites that discussed foam rolling.

I had discounted this technique at first because I didnt think rolling my muscles with some foam would do much of anything, but I watched a youtube video discussing the merits of foam rolling and how it can break down adhesions that build up over time on your muscles.  This explanation made some sense to me, so after watching a couple of how-tos I decided to give it a try.  Results you ask?  Well to my astonishment, the very next day the stiffness was greatly reduced.  I tried not to get too excited about it since I had been dealing with this for a few months, but I consistently did the rolling over the next few days.  After about 4 days my stiffness was probably 90% gone!  What a miracle!

After this whole experience, I decided to educate myself on proper running form (thanks youtube).  I discovered there were a couple of small things that needed to be changed.  Note here that small changes have HUGE impacts due to the repetitive nature of running.  My downhill form was horrible as I was doing the exact wrong thing by leaning backwards putting way too much pressure on the knee joints and tiring out my quads.  I had also been running too upright which is also not quite proper. The recommended method is to have a slight forward lean in your posture.  A few other key items were getting my step rate up to 170-180 steps / min and keeping my head up.  After concentrating on these concepts, I decided to give it a go and do a rather strenuous jog today.  With these slight improvements I set a personal best in my 5 mile, and so far so good, I have no pain!   Hope this blog was interesting to anyone who is looking to get into running.  Go out there and have some fun!