TheBoldAge’s Steve Foreman continues his Marathon series, or the first bump in the road

Too far, too soon (and the need to stretch)

Published by Steve Foreman on Dec 15, 2021

Marathon training is underway, and all was going well, 11km became 11 miles, no problem, so far so good. Then I read online that it was recommended that I should be able to run 10 miles by Christmas, this would then make training in the new year a piece of cake, relatively speaking. So, I ran 11 miles without issue, not gradually building up my distance, I just went for it! Then the following weekend, I thought I would do it again. Let me say now that I’m not great at listening to my body, if I have a target in mind I try and achieve it all costs. So off I ran and after a few miles I had a slight pain in my knee, but I was going to run 11 miles, so I choose to ignore it and carry on. The pain got steadily worse and then when I was at the furthest point from my house, the pain became unbearable, and I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. Stupidly, I also never run with my phone, so I couldn’t call anyone to come and rescue me. Given my lack of options I chose to run through the pain, all the way home.

Over the next few days, the knee pain did not subside, so I went for a sports massage on my legs and back to try and improve things. At the start of the massage, I was asked that dreaded question, ‘how much stretching do you perform before and after your run?’ Hmmmm, ‘non?’ I know that I should, but this is a fine example of do as I say, not as I do. I never stretch and have never had any issues, but clearly as the distance has increased my body is not happy. All the muscles around my knee were deemed to be very tight, hamstrings tight, calf tight, you get the idea. So, I am now stretching, every day, to try and improve my flexibility and therefore my knee pain.

There are obviously a couple of major learning points for me, from this latest run. Firstly, it is important to be able to contact someone in case of an emergency, or at the very least tell someone your route, so they have some idea where you might be if you don’t return in a timely manner. Secondly, as all the training plans suggest, build up the distance gradually, not in huge jumps. It is recommended that the distance should be increased by no more than 10% each time. Most importantly, listen to your body. It is good to push yourself but not as far as to injure yourself and potentially put your training schedule back weeks.

Finally, don’t skip your stretching. Tight and stiff muscles can limit our normal range of movement and can also be a major contributing factor to muscle and joint pain, a loss of performance and a greater risk of injury. I have learnt the hard way and will now be religiously stretching after every single run.

I hope to start running again this weekend, a gentle 5km will be my first run. I will then build up slowly, gradually increasing the distance each week. I have a marathon to run in April and cannot afford weeks not being able to train due to injury. Lesson learnt!

I’m running the marathon to raise money for my local cancer charity who have been amazing during my cancer journey. If you’d like to support me, I have a Just Giving page which you can find [here](