Week 13: Half marathon training update

I think my sweet new Nike outfit helped with my 8-miler!

This past week was a great week of training runs for me. I really can’t express enough how HUGE of a difference changing my form has made. (If you didn’t check it out yet, take a look at my post about how I changed my running form and simple steps to improve yours as well!) I have to admit, I was a little skeptical of the claim that changing my form would completely solve my IT Band problems but it really has. I’ve had three runs since changing my form and (knock on wood!) I haven’t felt any IT band pain.

I started the week out on Monday with an easy 3-mile run. I finished the run in 27 minutes and felt pretty good during it. This run was before I got feedback from Ryan Knapp about my form so I tried correcting my form on my own based on articles I had read. I knew I needed to land on my mid-foot as opposed to my heel so I tried my best to do that. I felt IT Band pain around 1.5 miles but was able to avoid a massive flare-up by really focusing on my form.

Tuesday was a cross-training day for me so I woke up early to get that done. I did two “Tone It Up” videos- Sunset workout for 12 minutes and the thighs workout for 16 minutes (times two)- because I had heard so much about them. I’m working on another post about using them for cross-training so check back soon for that! I also added in some leg exercises I read about in the Runner’s World half marathon issue. Then I did my plank a day and 50 calf raises because they help with alignment.

Wednesday was a big day for me because I received Ryan’s feedback and tips for correcting my form on Tuesday night so I was able to put them into practice during my 5-mile midweek training run. Overall this run went really well and I finished in 45 minutes. I focused on three things in particular (as mentioned in a previous post):

  • Lifting from my core in order to mid-foot strike.
  • Gunslinging my arms
  • Running with lean from my ankles

I really focused during my run on making sure I was implementing all of these tips. For the most part I found it pretty easy to incorporate them even though it felt a little awkward at first. The only tip I found difficult to implement was not running with my arms too high up on my ribcage. I tasked myself with focusing on this more during my next run.

On Thursday I did some cross-training at the gym. I did about 3 miles on the elliptical and then a bunch of strengthening exercises to help me run stronger. I focused on a lot of leg exercises because my legs have been feeling a little tired lately. I also did some arm exercises and planks.

Friday was a complete rest day!

Saturday was the real test for my new form because it was my long run day. I had 10 miles on tap but it turned into 8 miles because my stomach wasn’t feeling well but I finished 8 miles in a speedy 1 hour and 5 minutes! I couldn’t believe how fast I ran this run, especially with an upset stomach! This was my first long run since experiencing the IT Band pain and I felt like during the whole run I kept waiting for the pain to appear but it NEVER CAME! I don’t want to speak to soon however because it could still resurface but so far so good!

On Sunday I had to help my sister move back into college but it involved lots of lifting and going up and down four flights of stairs so I’m going to count it as cross-training.

Overall this week was great and I’m feeling a lot better about the half-marathon at the end of the month. I’ll be looking forward to the rest of my runs this week and hope my form will start to feel a little more natural.

Monday- 3 mile easy run, 27 min. average pace- 9:55/mile

Tuesday- Cross-training, Tone It Up workouts (Sunset and thigh workouts), planks, calf raises, Runner’s World leg exercises

Wednesday- 5 mile run, 45 min. average pace- 9:56/miles

Thursday- 3 miles on the elliptical, cross-training

Friday- Rest

Saturday- Long run 8 miles, 1:05, average pace 8:05/mile

Sunday- Moving (cross-training)

How to correct your running form to prevent injury

A few weeks ago I started feeling a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee. It usually showed up about a mile into my runs and felt like someone had stuck a knife into the side of my knee. My knee would either lock up at this point, or, if I was able to push on and keep running, the pain would travel all the way up the outside of my thigh to my hip. I knew immediately this was an IT Band problem.

With a little more than a month left in my training for a half marathon on Sept. 30, and three weeks into marathon training for a race on Nov. 19, this was not going to fly. I needed a solution. Fast. After taking quite a few rest days, I felt ready to hit the road again for an easy, quick 2-mile run. Not so fast, my IT Band said and around 1.6 miles my knee locked up and I literally could not run anymore. I was devastated and took to Twitter, as I usually do, to ask my runner friends what was wrong.

After hearing from a bunch of people I was informed it was more important to find out what caused the problem before trying to fix it. One of my Twitter followers, Ryan Knapp, a triathlete and endurance running coach from Kansas City, suggested the problem may be my form. Ryan asked me to take a 30 second video of me running away from my camera and back to my camera. I then sent it to him through his website and he evaluated it.

He told me he could immediately tell I used to be a dancer because of my posture and he said he’s be able to help me. Here’s the video I sent to him:

(Don’t mind my Dad talking in the background…)

After reviewing my video, Ryan filmed his own video to explain to me what he saw in my running form and what I could do to fix it. He said overall, my form wasn’t terrible- I have good body position (meaning I’m not leaning to one side or the other) and I have very still shoulders. However, he told me I had three things I needed to work on- lifting from my core, swinging my arms correctly and lean more.

  • Lifting from my core- According to Ryan, the reason I was having the IT Band problems is because I was swinging my legs like a pendulum when I ran, causing my foot to land in front of me and subsequently causing me to heel-strike, a huge no, no in the running world. To fix this, Ryan said I need to focus on lifting from my core so my feet will land below me and be able to power up immediately after hitting the ground.
  • Arms- From what Ryan saw, I run with my arms kind of high up in respect to my ribcage and they go across my midline (the invisible line that runs down the center of your body). Ryan said this wastes a lot of energy and space. To fix this, he told me to “gunsling”- make sure my elbows go behind me and in front of me, somewhere down by my waist.
  • I run very erect- My running posture is very straight and according to Ryan, there should be a little bit of lean in a runner’s form. To do this, I want to lean from my ankles.

Here’s the video Ryan did for me:

Ryan said there were two simple exercises I can do to work on my form and get used to mid-foot and fore-foot striking.

  • Skip drills- This is where you literally skip down the street. According to Ryan, skipping helps the body (and feet) recognize what it’s like to push off from the fore-foot because it’s impossible to skip from the heel.
  • Jump Rope Drills- Simply pretend (or if you have a jump rope) like you’re jumping rope. This has the same effect as the skip drill but you’ll notice if you do this and then immediately stop, that’s the same effect as a heel strike, which is very bad. Jump rope drills will also help your body learn to mid-foot strike and fore-foot strike.

Yesterday morning I did these drills and put the tips into practice and I noticed a significant difference in my running. (Knock on wood*) I had hardly any IT pain and I ran an easy 5 miles in 45 minutes, pretty good time for me. I had to concentrate a lot more on my form throughout the run because the second I stopped paying attention I found myself going back to my old form. I talked to Ryan about this and he said, like with anything, it’ll take some getting used to. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!

If you’re interested in getting your form analyzed, feel free to contact Ryan either through Twitter or on his website.