Setbacks and slow progress

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I’ve been preparing for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon next weekend, and yesterday at the end of my ten-mile run I noticed a pain on the side of my right foot. It got worse and worse until I finally completed the run, but afterwards I could feel it throbbing. The rest of the day I hobbled around, gulped down ibuprofen, and treated my foot with ice.

I’ve been pretty lucky with my health, so I can’t complain too much. Plus, one of my running partners seems to be dealing with a much bigger injury, and may not be able to race at all. Still, I’ve dealt with shin splints, and now it seems a different kind of pain that is resulting from the way my foot rotates. I’m tired of not being able to run as much as I want to!

I did some research, and what’s strange is that normally my right foot pronates (rotates in). I’ve got special shoes for it that also support my high arches. In this case, though, it seems that my right foot is supinating (rotating out). So either my Brooks are overcompensating for my pronation, or my right foot is usually the one that’s on a slope and is straining my ankles and leg/foot muscles, or there’s some other factor I’m not aware of since I’m not a podiatrist. I plan to go to a specialty sports store and get some new shoes and advice, since these shoes are unhelpfully worn down on one side of the foot.  In any case, even though the pain is minor, it’s frustrating and I’m hoping it goes away enough for me to run the race on Saturday.

However annoying these incidents may be, they’re a good reminder of how our bodies are so delicately wired and how it doesn’t take much to upset the balance. I read an interesting article in Runner’s World about the 10% rule–how when training for a long race, you should only increase your distance by ten percent per week. When I think of how recklessly I’ve trained, squeezing in an eight-mile run after a six-mile run to catch up for lost time, it’s no wonder that my body is struggling to keep up. Any additional strain, like bad shoes or poor technique, will only make it worse.

Read this quote from the article, which praises the 10 percent rule as an alternative to quickly piling on the miles:

Follow the 10PR… and your body gets stronger and fitter. If you’re running 10 miles a week now, and you want to increase your training, run 11 miles next week. And 12 the week after that. And 13 the week after that. This may look like agonizingly slow progress, but in just 8 to 10 weeks, you could be running 20 miles a week.

Continue on the same path, and you’ll be running 40 miles a week just four months after you started building up from 10. And 40 miles a week, believe me, is a lot of running. It can take you anywhere you want to go.

So to everyone who’s experienced setbacks on their journey to get in shape or run a certain distance, keep going. Try something different and take care of yourself. Don’t feel the pressure to do too much too quickly. And as I’ll remind myself on Saturday during the Brooklyn Half, take it slow. Let’s not torture ourselves any more than we have to.

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One thought on “Setbacks and slow progress

  1. My two cents: I think this “10% rule” applies to many other things too that require changing habits. To take a spiritual example, think of how much time we spend in prayer. If we try to go from no spiritual anything to praying and reading scripture 1 hour / day (as I have attempted to do in the past), we’ll burn out, feel frustrated, and quickly abandon the arduous new schedule in favor of our old ways. Instead, commit to praying 5 mins a day for a week, then increase it slowly by a few mins each week until you reach your target. There is still a possibility for failing, but there’s a much higher chance of success with this change in strategy in incorporating a spiritual daily routine.

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