Ouch, ouch, and then I dropped to my knees and crawled to answer the phone on a Sunday morning in December 2005. What is up with my feet and why can’t I bear weight on them first thing in the morning without deep, intense pain? I am one month out from my first marathon, the P.F. Changs Arizona Rock-n-Roll Marathon and don’t have time to deal with any setbacks. On January 15 2016, I completed the marathon. It was such an incredible experience. I swear I saw my entire life pass before me during the 26.2 miles. Although I was happy with the accomplishment, my performance on that day was not reflective of my training. I pretty much bonked at mile 15. I wasn’t experiencing cramping as many of my fellow recreational marathon runners have expressed to me when reflecting on their race experiences, but I was just physically and emotionally exhausted. I clearly remember running past a cemetery on the race route, somewhere between miles 20-23 and thinking in that moment, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to be on the other side of the grass.
Somehow, I pulled it out and wobbled my way to the finish line and qualified for the Boston Marathon on my first marathon by 44 seconds. Holy smokes, what an experience! The entire training program, the relationships I made, and the race day memories. I can’t forget the nagging experience of my feet hurting for a few more weeks after the marathon too. So what was up with my feet? I finally visited a podiatrist in my office building and he ordered x-rays of my feet. Lo and behold I had stress fractures in both feet, yikes! Yes folks, that is right, not one, but both feet. To be more precise, I had fractures in both navicular bones.
In the 2007 documentary, Spirit of the Marathon, Dick Beardsley makes this statement regarding running a marathon, “when you cross that finish line, no matter how slow, how fast, it will change your life forever”. It absolutely did change my life forever. Maybe not to the same extent as others, but I finished my first marathon training and race with questions and I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I received answers to my questions, including why the heck did I get stress fractures in my feet?! For that reason, my life was changed forever. A couple of years after my first marathon I obtained a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). A few years later, I pursued a Masters of Science Degree in Kinesiology, the study of movement. My entire focus while in the program was on intrinsic and extrinsic factors related to running related injuries and the fine line between training too little, too much, and just enough to enhance performance and decrease injury possibilities. I have been fortunate to work with a number of recreational marathon runners that have hit performance plateaus, recurrent injuries, or just have received poor training advice through friends, books, popular press, or even worse; uneducated “coaches”. In my experience with runners that seek to improve their run training and racing, there is a reoccurring comment about training books available. They are either too technical for the average person to understand or dry. With that in mind and the urging of others around me, I have decided to include a blog on my website to educate runners and help fuel the fire of those yearning to improve their marathon performance. This blog is my labor of love for helping others and will touch on physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, and nutrition to clearly understand how runners can enhance their run performance and reduce running injury incidence in an effort to meet each individuals inherent potential as a distance runner.