Feedback on a Runner’s Progress

Shaina has learned something from her training for her Boston Marathon run. Here is her update:

In my mom’s first blog post about my marathon training she mentioned that I would be taking a few steps, getting some feedback and deciding what to do next. She mentioned this in regard to my fundraising commitment, but I have already experienced this with my running. I didn’t think this would happen. I am a runner; it is what I do. I thought I knew everything!

I set out my first week of training with high hopes. I was going to start fast, right off the bat, and run faster and longer! I soon realized this was not going to happen. My very first training run I set out to run 4 miles. This should be no big deal for me. I generally run between 3-5 miles, 4-5 times a week. After 2 miles I had to stop because of extreme pain in my knee. I dejectedly walked home, thoughts already racing through my head. I decided to take a few days off. I had run a lot the week prior and thought maybe my body needed some rest. A few days later I went out to run again. I was excited and hopeful. Usually after a few days off my body is excited to be running again and rejuvenated. I went for my run, hoping to do 4 miles and the same thing happened again, around 2 miles extreme pain. I tried to push through it and at 3 realized I could not possibly finish my run.

For the first time, I felt only a fraction of what I imagine how my mom feels every day. My body was not operating the way it was supposed to. I had never in my life experienced any pain while running (other than the normal “wow I really want to stop”). Suddenly after 2 miles I was feeling extreme pain and I had developed a limp that lasted all day. My mind was racing… how am I going to run 26.2 miles when I can’t even finish 3? How am I going to continue fundraising if I am not sure I will be able to complete the race? What is going on!

Of course most of these thoughts were somewhat dramatic and irrational, but running is my “thing”. I use it to calm down, to stay focused, and to de-stress. When I can’t run all bets are off!

Luckily, I took some advice from my lovely mother and asked for help. I didn’t wait until things had completely spiraled out of control, but I asked for help pretty soon after I realized something was not right.

I am lucky enough to be running the marathon with a team of fundraisers. I am running for the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Team Stork. Team Stork has partnered with an organization called Charity Teams, which assists charities with their athletic fundraising opportunities. I called Susan Hurley (Founder of Charity Teams) and said “Susan! I’m freaking out! First I had shin splits, now I have a lot of pain in my knee, I can’t run, I don’t know what to do, I am so frustrated”.

Susan, who is one of the most genuinely enthusiastic people I have ever met said, “Shaina, it’s okay it’s still early. Call my PT. Call Rebecca Brown; she is wonderful. Tell her you are one of my runners and she will help you out.”

So I did. I sent Rebecca an almost pathetically desperate email summarizing my symptoms. Rebecca responded in a way that I had not expected but was so helpful. She said “ Oh Shaina, how frustrating”.

Thank you Rebecca!! This is exactly what I needed to hear. Most times, people try to offer their one off solutions when you are having a problem. “Oh it’s okay… Don’t worry…. You will be fine.” Rebecca acknowledged how I was feeling, finally allowing me to not feel like a crazy person and then gave me some advice. After a week or so, I was still feeling pain and wasn’t experiencing any improvements. Rebecca again, acknowledged how I was feeling, and set up an appointment for me to come in.

I have now met with Rebecca twice and have seen major improvements. I ran 6 miles relatively pain free over the weekend and have been able to do my weekly maintenance miles. Rebecca explained to me everything that was going on. She calmed my fears without patronizing me; she answered every single one of my questions. We have modified my training plan, and I haven’t been running as much as I thought that I would.

Regardless of the fact that I am running less, I feel so much more prepared going into my marathon training. I was too excited when I started. I wanted to run faster, longer and hillier runs all at the same time. My body said “No, thank you”. Now I know I really need to pace myself, and listen to my body. I know that I am capable of running a marathon but I need to go about it in the right way. I need to take my time, allow my body to rest in between runs, and slowly incorporate speed and hills into my training.

At my recent appointment with Rebecca, I told her I was almost glad that this had happened. I learned an extremely valuable lesson and I learned at a good time in my training. My training won’t suffer and I will be able to go into the more difficult parts knowing what my body can handle and what it needs in order to be successful.

So in the theme of my mom’s blog, ask for help! Don’t be afraid to adapt what you are doing, it might even end up being the better way.

If you missed my mom’s blog post, she announced that I would be running the Boston Marathon in support of BWH Team Stork. The Stork Fund raises money to support healthier moms and babies. This charity is a unique one to the Boston Marathon. You can see more details about the cause on my fundraising page:

Please consider donating to my cause. I have committed to raising $5,000 by April 15, 2013. My smaller goal is to have raised $2,500 of this by January 9. This is an aggressive goal but with the help of others, I know I can do it. Donations can be made here: Thank you!

There are a few lessons I wanted to extract in case you didn’t see them immediately:

  1. Rebecca, the PT, sympathized first. She didn’t try to problem-solve until she saw Shaina. She didn’t pity. She didn’t pep-talk. She provided support until she saw Shaina. I think PTs learn this in PT school. The rest of us need to.
  2. When you have a Big Problem, the first thing to do is breathe. Or, whatever you do to not panic. This is one of the things we teach in PSL. Everyone does this differently. And, everyone can learn their approach to centering.
  3. Go slow to go faster. I do this all the time. If you rush things at the beginning, you don’t have the foundation to go faster. This happens in projects, in relationships, in athletic endeavors, in everything in life.

I’m not happy Shaina is working through an injury. But I recognize that injuries occur and I am happy she is working through it intelligently. And, that she asked for help from people who could provide the best possible help. Take a step, get a little feedback. Works in running, in life, in just about everything.


1 thought on “Feedback on a Runner’s Progress”

  1. Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

    Your daughter has learned some valuable lessons. Thanks for sharing them. As a runner who is quiteolder than your daughter, I thought it was age that caused my aches and pains (I’ve been running through a sore achilles for nearly two months, now)….but I relearned one lesson recently: if something new starts hurting, it might be that your shoes, your gait, your posture or something has changed. It is far easier to fix these problems if you catch them early and don’t just tough it out. Now, I should’ve known that, but I assumed the problem was with me, not something external to me like shoes) and so didn’t even discuss my shoes with those coaches and folks who keep me running. Silly me! Even though the pain was manageable, and there were some days that I was relatively pain free, I let myself slip into chronically not feeling on top of it. That was a big mistake. I keep learning….and running for the joy and the challenge of it. May your daughter have a great marathon!

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