Training For a Marathon

Training For a Marathon


Dr. Trevor McArthur

Chiropractor and Amateur Runner

Earlier this year, my childhood friend Zac convinced me to sign up for my second ever marathon. We ran a marathon together a few years ago, but both had the itch to do another one. The race is scheduled for November 26th in Seattle, where we are expecting cool temperatures and no doubt some rain or snow to make it more interesting. Now with this being my second marathon, I was aware how difficult the training was going to be and how much my body might hurt but I signed up anyways. Fortunately for me, I work at a clinic filled with a variety of health care providers. Each have their own specialty and treatment approach to help an amateur runner with his aches and pains along the way. I wanted to outline a bit of my training journey and who helped me at the clinic.

Problem #1: Knee Pain

I was having some weird right knee pain that started near the end of the summer in 2021. There was no major ligament damage to the knee, but I was having pain over my kneecap while running. Having a pretty good knowledge of managing knee pain myself, I spent the winter strengthening the knee using a variety of different exercises. I was feeling pretty good about my rehab, so this spring I got out my running clothes nice and early and set out on a run. Much to my disappointment, my knee felt no better. 1.5km into my run, my knee started to hurt again, this time almost worse than it was last year. At this point, I figured I needed some new eyes to take a look at the knee, so I scheduled an appointment with our physiotherapist at Creekside, Chris Jahnig. Chris put me through a thorough assessment of the knee, ruling out any ligamentous or meniscal causes of knee pain. He then took me to the gym and we got to work. Chris wanted to find out if we could aggravate the knee, which might seem like an odd first step, but up until now I could not reproduce the knee pain unless I was running, so we needed to figure this out. We put our heads together and found a position that would recreate the pain I was feeling, Chris then gave me a way to strengthen the knee in that position. The rest was up to me. Four weeks off from running and being consistent with my new exercise and I was ready to try running again. 1.5km in, no knee pain. 3 km, still no knee pain. 5km and still no knee pain! I was ecstatic! I have kept up with the exercises ever since, but the knee has not impacted my training ever since.

Problem #2: Foot Pain

I have been experimenting with different shoes throughout my training period. Each one with their own pros and cons. Finding the perfect running shoe seems to be a bit of a golden goose for me. One of the shoes I was trying was a new style for me. Now, conventional wisdom says that when you are trying out new shoes, you should start with some short runs first and progress your way to longer runs. You know what comes next, I jumped right into a long run with my shiny new shoes. And like clockwork, the day after I started having midfoot pain. I’ve had plantar fasciitis before but this felt different. I took a couple of days off running to let it calm down but this didn’t seem to be helping. I casually mentioned this to our Pedorthist at the clinic, Murray Wood. Within seconds, he says, “Well you’ve jammed up your midfoot, get into all of the foot mobility stuff I’ve taught you.” So I took Murray’s advice and used my toe spreaders, did my foot stretching and got my lacrosse ball out to do some rolling. After about 30 seconds of rolling on the lacrosse ball I heard a nice loud click that came from my foot. I stood up, foot pain was completely gone and hasn’t come back since. I have also learned my lesson about testing out new shoes. There is a reason we call Murray, “the foot guy.”

Problem #3: Sore Muscles!

Running this much undoubtedly leads to some sore muscles. Some weeks are better than others, but some weeks you might see me walking around the clinic like I’ve got two wooden legs. That’s how I know it is time to get in for a massage with one our wonderful RMT’s. They have kept me walking and moving like a normal human being throughout this training cycle. Anyone who has gotten a massage at our clinic knows how hard it can be to get in for a massage but luckily, we have just added 3 new members to this team!

Problem #4: Everything Else Hurt at Some Point

Throughout this training period it seemed like each week something new was sore or stiff. Some days it was my hips, some days it was my lower back, take your pick. Luckily for me, I have the benefit of being married to a chiropractor. My lovely wife, Dr. Tiffanee McArthur got to listen to me complain about all of these things. Not only did she listen, but she was able to treat me for a lot of these different concerns which I am very grateful for.

So, what did I learn (or relearn) through all of this?

  1. Sometimes you need a new set of eyes on a problem in order to get past a plateau.
  2. Having a good team to support you is crucial.
  3. You can reduce your risk of injury or manage current injuries through alterations in your training load.

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