Marathon in One Week and I Can’t Run Two Miles

Calf Strain

Damn. My hope is to run California International Marathon in Sacramento next weekend in less than three hours and fifteen minutes, which, as a forty year-old man, would be a Boston Marathon qualifying time. I’ve been training for months, have plane tickets and hotel room booked, have a shuttle booked to take me from the hotel to the starting line, my daughters, sixteen years apart in age at twenty-two and six, are planning to run the 2.62 mile run together. Should be an incredible weekend. Except for the fact that I seem to have a very serious calf strain and couldn’t run more than two miles this morning.

Training has been going well. I have been following the “Run Less Run Faster” program this year. After a 1:35 half marathon in the spring I tried out their 10K program over the summer and loved it, ending with a 40:37 10K in August. I rolled my ankle in that race which put me behind on my marathon training but I’ve nailed the workouts the last couple of months, from the track workouts to one twenty-miler.

But something happened in one of my track workouts a couple weeks back and my calf cried for pain. Calf strain. Happens. I know the only real fix is rest. If only the marathon would wait for me. I’d be ready in a few weeks.

If you had an injury such as this one my advice to you would be firm: “If you can run without pain, go for it. When the pain starts, stop.” I’m trying to heed my own advice. I had a 5 x 1000m track workout planned for Wednesday. The pain appeared after 3K. I stopped. Today was a six mile tempo run. After two miles, boom, there’s the calf pain. I walked home.

I’ve been here before. If you’ve ever been here you know. It’s fucking depressing. Lots of time put in. Physical and mental investment. And you know you’ll heal. It’s just timing. Argh.

My plan at the moment:

  1. 1.5 hour walk on Sunday instead of the 10 mile marathon-pace run I was planning
  2. Visit the physical therapist on Monday for light therapy, electro-stim, whatever she recommends (I go to Meredith Soelberg in Santa Monica who is incredibly thoughtful and knowledgeable)
  3. Keep stretching, doing the CrossFit warmup to keep basic fitness without irritating the calf
  4. Dial back calories slightly since I’m going to be less active over the next week
  5. Let go of the time goal, aim to finish
  6. Be ok dropping out of the race if the pain is intense. I have another race (Ragnar Florida) January 4th and there’s no point in seriously injuring myself just to finish CIM. If I DNF (“did not finish”) this race I will find another marathon for 2013. I’m not letting go of the Boston Qualifying goal. It will all come together at some point.

Anyone else have a better plan? Compression socks? Kinesio-Tape? All advice and commiseration is welcome.