Impaired Running

Impaired running and injury alert – stay healthy! We want to see you on race day! Marathon and Half Marathon runners you are entering the impaired running and injury danger zone! I know that because every year about this time we start to get emails from runners to let us know they won’t be running because they blew a knee, twisted an ankle, pulled a hamstring, popped a hip or injured themselves in some other show stopping way.

High Mileage – High Danger

Eighteen miles seems to be a tipping point for marathon runners and 10 miles for half runners, they are the danger zones that result in impaired running. We become increasingly tired the longer we run. Pay attention to form. We dehydrate. Consistent water intake is critical  –  2 oz. every 2 miles. Our muscles run out of fuel. Replenish nutrition supplies – a gel every 45 minutes. We pound our joints longer and harder. Our bodies need more recovery time. We over stress ligaments and muscles. Stretching becomes increasingly important. All these things work together to impair us.

Form is Important

Keep an eye on your form to avoid becoming impaired. Don’t obsess but pay attention. Back straight, even breaths, rotate your hips back and forth, point your knees and toes forward and relax your muscles it will help prevent face plants, twisted ankles and other injuries. Remember to run added distance at least 1 minute slower than your average pace. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to crank up your speed and exertion during that extra final mile or two. It’s a plan for disaster. Run slower not faster on those added miles.

Nutrition & Water

Mismanaging or not managing nutrition and water will impair your running. Our bodies store 2 hours of energy in our muscles. That’s why gels or energy drinks are so important. They replenish the sugars and carbohydrates, i.e   the fuel our muscles need to keep going. A word of caution use either gels with water or energy drinks – not both. Don’t use gels with energy drinks. It’s too much sugar. You need the water to flush toxins from your muscles and to deliver oxygen and nutrition to them.


If you don’t know what happens as we stress our bodies it’s worth doing some research. Over stressing causes micro-tears in our muscles and micro-fractures in areas like our shins. It’s normal and nothing to worry about unless you overdo it. It’s why protein is so important for recovery. Our bodies use protein to rebuild and strengthen the damage we do as we train. Recovery also requires a good night’s sleep and plenty of time between runs.

The Run

Last weekend I did 20. This weekend 12. Next weekend 20. Then taper time. My marathon is two weeks before yours. Pace was good, swig of water every 2 miles, downed a gel every 45 minutes. The first 18 were really good. Mile 19 took focus and mile 20 was a killer. Oh my goodness. It took every bit of reserved willpower to keep moving. Ultra-marathoners have a cautionary mantra – “beware the chair”. An ultra-marathoner shared it while telling a story about how he sat down at mile 85. He couldn’t get back up.  I shifted that to “beware the walk”. I was afraid if I started walking I’d never start running again. It was ugly but I got through it.

I know my next 20 miler won’t give me near as much trouble and I’ll be considerably more prepared for 26.2.

Impaired Running Alert

I’m on the cusp of an injury so I’m being very careful. My mid-week runs are 5, 8 and 5. After the first 5 my left knee started popping. That ain’t good. I skipped the 8 to rest the knee. Popping stopped. Another 5 and it popped all day. I’ll be very careful when I do the 12 because I want to run that marathon. Experience tells me if I push this knee thing there’s a very good chance I’ll really mess it up. Backing down, so I make it to the starting line works for me. It’s better to finish slow than not at all. I might mess the knee up during the marathon but I’ll get the medal. Then I’ll let it recover and strengthen up before the next one. Yeah, we’re crazy. But it’s what we do!

Final Notes

The Bird-in-Hand Half tends to cap out. If you want a Road Apple Award you should think about registering for the BIH Half soon. if you have a friend who hasn’t registered for our race yet why not forward this blog and invite them to register before fees go up on March 1st.

Stay Healthy!

See you in April,

Run On!

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