The weather was looking quite good this morning, so I decided to do a slightly belated Birthday Half-Marathon – well, it’s only two days late and I’m still on holiday, so I reckon it still counts.
I’d scheduled this run into my training program for two reasons: firstly, I thought it would be a good way to spend my Birthday/ day off; and secondly, I wanted to make sure I could cope with the distance for the Brighton Half Marathon in February.
Of course, I had some goals for this run too. I wanted to see if I could improve my time of 2:28:02 from the Jeff Galloway Virtual 13.1 that I ran in December, but I also wanted to see if I could get under 2:25:00 – a bit of a long shot, I know, but it’s good to have something challenging to aim for.
I figured that I would have to average around 6:50 – 6:55 per kilometre to be in with a chance and was pretty much on track for the first half of the run.
I used my usual route (only slightly altered so that I could start and finish by the public toilets), heading East along Hove lawns to Brighton Marina and along the Undercliff Path towards Saltdean, and then back again. I had considered taking the hilly option on the road above the cliffs, but decided against it as the weather is still very changeable at the moment.
Once I reached the wall at Saltdean (an actual wall, where the path stops, not the runners wall that makes your legs turn to lead and your brain to mush) I turned around and started making my way back. The wind was strong enough to give a bit of resistance but nothing to cause too many problems and, when I checked the Garmin at half way I was pleased to see that I was on track to achieve my goal time of 02:25:00.
And then it happened. At 12 kilometres I felt that familiar shooting pain in my left knee. It wasn’t the full on kitchen knife to the outer knee cap pain that I had before; it didn’t go that deep and lasted for less than a second. But it was the same pain, a warning shot, and I knew that I would be in trouble if I didn’t back off.
So, for the next few kilometres I eased off and allowed my pace to drop until I felt that I was out of the danger zone. I wasn’t happy about it and made a mental note to myself to remember to do my ITB stretches every day between now and the Brighton Half, but I kept going and reminded myself that it’s better to slow down now than to create an injury I would be sure to regret later.
At around 16K, however, I realised that I could still be in with a chance of achieving 02:25:00 if I could pick up the pace again and keep it just under 7:00 minutes per kilometre. So I allowed myself to push a little harder on the running sections and reminded myself to walk a bit faster on the walk breaks. But it wasn’t enough. My pace dropped again and, as I approached the final kilometre, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
But then something else happened. Something good this time. I realised that, even at the reduced pace that I was currently running, not only would I be under 2:30:00, but I could still get a PB! This gave me a much needed boost, so I picked up the pace (still mindful of my ITB of course) and pushed for home, finishing in 02:27:18.
Although I was delighted to achieve a new PB, I also realised that PBs aren’t everything. The important thing is to finish the run without injury and, looking back, I realise that I’m pretty lucky that I got a warning signal before my ITB seized up on me.
So, from now on, I promise that I will find time to do my stretches every day, whether I think I need to or not. Prevention is better than a cure, right?
How’s your running going? What injury prevention measures do you take as part of your training program? Please share your thoughts in the comments.