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One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: Keeping Injuries at Bay


MRTT in the [coffee]house - thank goodness for BRFs!
Cleveland Moms Run This Town in the [coffee]house - thank heavens for running friends!
As they prepare for the Wineglass Marathon on October 4 using the AMR #FindYourStrong Marathon Challenge, Heather and Marianne, two long-distance BRFs taking on their first marathon, are sharing their experiences--and miles--weekly. Find all their posts here


First, let's talk about how this recovery week didn't feel like one. For one thing, I've been suffering from a whole lotta "first mile syndrome" (thanks, Martini for giving that a name!) It may just be random suckage, but I also suspect I'm still working out some kinks in my nutrition. For another thing, our radar all week pretty much looked like this:

That was Saturday's run, when I wrapped my cell phone in Saran Wrap before putting it into its waterproof case. Pro tip: you can still operate your touch screen through plastic wrap! By Sunday (this week's scheduled long run day) I was thrilled to have the badass, hilarious company of my MRTT (Moms Run This Town) gals alongside me as I slogged through yet another day of rain.

On other matters, there’s been a lot of discussion on the #FindYourStrong Strava and Facebook groups about strength training lately. How much, how often, how am I supposed to fit all this in?

Admittedly, this whole marathon training program thing has messed with my routine a bit. When I’m not running 30 miles a week, I usually try to squeeze in two bouts of strength. These days, I’m happy to get in one – but I do make sure I get it in.

See, eight years ago I ended up in some barefoot running shoes. Back then I was a social runner, and despite working for a major running company, I honestly didn’t know much about my own feet. As an over-pronater, barefoot shoes probably weren’t the best choice for me in the first place, and I definitely should have been more cautious building up my miles in them. But I wasn’t. And on mile 8 of a 12-mile cruise around Sauvie Island in Portland, I felt a sharp stab in the arch of my right foot, followed by pins and needles up and down my leg. Readers familiar with the Sauvie Island loop know that it can be an isolated route and has no shortcuts. I limped through the remaining 4 miles and took a few days off, but kept running. (Of course I did!)

Many months, several specialists, and a [relatively useless] pair of expensive orthotics later, I finally saw a physical therapist who figured it out. And broke the news that I had a whole bunch of cute little micro-tears in my arch along with a pile of scar tissue.

Certainly, running in improper footwear was at least partially to blame for the injury that kept me from running distances for several years. But I think it was also due to my lack of strength training at the time. The physical therapist that I saw gave me some exercises that to this day I incorporate into my weekly strength routine.

Below is the routine that I try to get in every week. Now that I know the routine by heart, I can knock it out in about 25 minutes. I usually do it on a cross-training morning while watching the early local news; my 3.5-year-old munches toast and scolds me whenever I block his view of the car commercials.

Even though my mileage varies, being consistent with this routine for the last three years has really worked for me. Each set consists of 12 reps of each exercise. I then do each set 3 times. (So, 12 squat-and-lifts; 12 push-ups; 12 rainbow planks; then repeat that 2 more times before moving on to the next group of exercises.)


- Squat and lift (I use a 10-lb weight. Squat, then clench those abs, stand straight, and extend the weight up and out)
- Push-ups
- Rainbow plank (from a standard plank position, twist at the waist to touch one hip to the ground, then twist the opposite direction to touch the other hip down. That's one.)

Strength training is always more fun with a buddy
Strength training is always more fun with a buddy

- One-legged squats (12 each side, and raise your knee when you straighten up for a little extra balancing action)
- Rows (I use 10 lbs)
- Flies (use a lighter weight here - for me, that's 5 lbs)
- Inchworms with Theraband (With the band around your ankles as shown, stand with feet shoulder width apart. Step your left foot straight out to the left, then step your right foot to the left so your feet are back to shoulder-width. Do 12 each direction.)
- Step-backs with Theraband (Just like the Inchworms, but here you step back with each foot. Do 12 on each side.)
- Walking lunges (12 on each side. I'm demonstrating how to lunge around preschoolers in the upper right picture. )

- Sumo squat with bicep curl (I've got 10 lbs in each hand.)
- One-Legged Calf raises (12 each leg. I usually cheat a little and touch one finger to a hip-level surface to help with balance.)
- Triceps Dips
- Ab twist (12 each side; I hold a 10-lb weight when I rotate.)
- Heroes (Lie flat on your back with legs outstretched and arms above your head. In one fluid motion, curl up to a seated position with arms outstretched. Reverse the motion to lie back down and repeat 12 times.)
- Locusts (Lie flat on your stomach with legs outstretched and arms at your sides. In one movement, left your legs, arms, and torso off the ground - hold for a count of 3, then rest on the ground. Repeat 12 times.)



Happy birthday to Rachel run. We're both pro-wellness and smiling. Coincidence?
Happy birthday to Rachel! We're both pro-wellness and we're both smiling. Coincidence? I think not.

First, I agree with Heather. Strength training has helped me run better, faster, longer, and with less discomfort. I think it is partly why I am successfully through 4 weeks of training having hit every required workout and even some optional ones.

I'm going talk about the other tools in my self-care kit. Writing about about it, I have to admit, feels indulgent because it highlights that wellness is a wee bit of a budget item. (Although, in my defense, my budget for things like clothes and shoes is pretty small.)

I also recognize that I have two advantages when it comes to time management. First, I have one child and she is in daycare 5 days. Second, I am an academic so my available work hours in summer are pretty much 24/7 with the exception of the occasional scheduled meeting. It’s easy for me to start working at 5am and get in an hour before I head out to run. Then I can use that hour later for one of the following.

  1. Massage: I get one once a month partly for the physical benefit and partly because my person of choice encourages me to think about what the tension in my body is related to in my life.  I’ve gotten insights from these that didn’t pop up in traditional therapy. And sometimes a tender spot or two shows me where I need to put in some extra foam rolling time.
  2. Chiropractor: Lucky for me, my health insurance covers a few dozen visits a year. These adjustments, exercises to take home, and warnings before things turn ugly have kept me injury free for several years. I have learned it is good to get in as soon as I start to feel off, even if I know there will be some discomfort to get things back in shape.
  3. Reflexology:  This is my newest addition. I started based on recommendations from our local Maplewood/South Orange message board and due to paranoia that it was my feet that would be my undoing during training. So far, my feet are tense but not injured. I plan to keep it as such.
  4. Yoga: I try for one class a week. I’m lucky to have a studio very close by that offers a variety of classes and even hosted two Yoga for Runners workshops.  My ideal self throws in some of the poses from the worksheets from these classes after every run. My actual self averages every fifth run or so.
  5.  Sleep: If I want to eat well, run well, parent well, or work well, I need 7 hours. Sometimes 8. It is no coincidence that “well” rhymes with “yell” which is what I am prone to do if tired. On tough days, I am known to put Joyce to bed and then crawl in myself and turn out the lights before it is fully dark outside. I love mornings, especially when I am up before everyone else. And yes, that means I now get up when I sometimes used to go to bed in my 20's.Anything we're missing that works for you? Tell us readers, what we can do to keep feeling ready to add more and more miles?

6 responses to “One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: Keeping Injuries at Bay

  1. Love your reference to ideal self and real self! You ask what we can do to feel ready to add more and more miles-I know I need to merge those two selfs (selves?) more consistently but also to be gracious and forgiving when I recognize that they are indeed two separate entities that don’t always cooperate in helping me carry out my training. In other words, I need to learn to cut myself a little slack and not compare myself to others or berate myself when real self doesn’t measure up to ideal self. Thanks for sharing what you find helpful! I need all the help I can get!

  2. Heather and Marianne, thanks so much! Heather, this strength workout is PERFECT and great for all the stabilizers I need for mountain backpacking, too…my inner thighs are feeling it this week:) Marianne, I LOVE these tools, too, and find them, not a luxury, but a necessity for keeping our bodies and spirits active for the rest of our lives! It’s easy to put these things (like massage, yoga, and even sleep) on the back burner when we’re young and active, but it catches up. I used to work in the healthcare field and as a yoga teacher I’ve seen the longterm impacts on athletes who don’t add these elements into their routine. I like to think of it as an investment in the future;) Great work ladies!

  3. Thanks, ladies! Another great post! I love the strength workout, a Heather; I’m going to give it a try.

  4. Thanks, ladies, for some good info. And Heather, the pictures are a big help to me to understand what the exercise is! I may try them… thanks. And continued good luck to you both with the training 🙂

  5. You ladies are doing great! So impressed! Yoga once a week really helps me a lot…. I try very hard to get one strength training in a week, which is almost always in the form of doing a DVD, and I hate doing DVD’s….but it is convenient and time-saving, so sigh… I love the yoga class I go to, so maybe if I found a group strength class that I enjoyed, I wouldn’t dread that strength training so much or skip it as I often do!

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