Running a marathon can be challenging.  It requires a lot of physical power as well as mental power.  Lots of people have created different mental techniques to help runners through mental running barriers.  The mental techniques that I find useful are here and here.

One technique others have mentioned is to dedicate each mile you run to someone.  Think of that person and run your best for them.  When I reached mile 22 of the last marathon I ran, I had no good thoughts left.  When a passerby told me “You are almost there!  Keep it up!” I wanted to scream, “I AM NOWHERE NEAR THE END!”

The last marathon I ran was with a heel spur.  After learning of its presence 9 months earlier, I was forced to stop running.  I spent the better part of 9 months craving one thing:  Long distance running.

To train for my last marathon, I spent a lot of time stretching my foot, icing my foot, riding a stationary bike,trying different orthotics, resting.  Everything I tried is listed here.  I sat out of all my regular races for those 9 months.  I wanted to run the marathon, and saved my training and running for that race.

The marathon was worth the wait.  By mile 17 my foot HURT.  I got my first half in under 2 hours.  I did not stop and stretch throughout the race as I had planned.  I knew the clock was ticking so I trudged on.  At the end my sore right foot swelled and could only be used as a “toe paddle” to my left foot “boat.”  BUT, I was able to achieve what I had craved for so long.  I finished another marathon.  It was time to take what I learned and apply it to my training.

Training for a marathon with the heel spur (Take 2)

My Doctor told me “the spur is mine” for life.  If he were to do surgery it would be to repair the tendons that were being affected by the spur.  But “The spur is mine” (every time I say the words, I sing it to Michael Jackson’s song “The Girl is Mine”  Try it – it’s fun!).

All that means to me, is that we are going to have to work together.  So here is what “The spur of mine” and I do to train:

  1.  R.I.C.E.

    Every day.  I run 6 days a week.  After my run I rest, ice, compress (well, I wear my boot to sleep in) and elevate my foot.  At different times after my run, but I do each one.

  2. Workouts = Quality not Quantity

    In short, I make them count.  Previously, my training only focused on one thing: MILES!  I work to achieve the same number of miles, but now, I do speed workouts, hills, slow miles and long distance days.  And I never put 2 hard workouts back to back.  I have found that changing up my workouts has helped change my metabolism, and I unexpectedly lost weight – and my plantar fasciitis associated with “the spur of mine” loves that!

  3. Focus on FORM

    I have spent time looking at my form here and here.  When I was out collecting miles, I got very lazy in my form.  In the pictures I found of me running, I always planted on my heel.  I have learned to strike mid foot.  The higher I run (chest up and out), the easier it is to strike mid foot.

To run high I focus on core strength – really working my abs with planks and sit-ups.           I also do a lot of upper body workouts.  I find upper body strength helps keep me                     from “saggy draggy Robyn.”

My training is going well.  I do not experience any pain that I must stop from, and I did before.  I currently do not limp, as I did before.  I think I gave my foot the time it needed to heal and still allow me to run.  I need to do these three things to run, but if I can run, that is A-OK with me.

I developed a heel spur and was told my foot needed to heal.  I needed to stop running for some time.  Not only did I feel like I was losing all the training I had put in, but I wasn’t able to do the one thing I crave most: long distance running.  Now I am on track with “the spur of mine,” working together and training for the next marathon.  Hopefully I will have much happier thoughts the next time I reach mile 22!