5 min read  ●  Mar 11, 2024

Running a marathon in 6 months - Part 2

Update after ten weeks of training for a marathon: my first physiotherapy session, adjustments to my training plan, and first 10km running event.

Hello again, friends! Another five weeks of training for a marathon flew by, which means I’m almost halfway through – 10 out of 24 weeks, done. The two highlights that marked the past five weeks were my first-ever physiotherapy session and my inaugural running event.

Read Part 1

Going to physiotherapy

Worry not, despite running’s bad reputation, I’ve been able to avoid injuries so far.

In the first blog post, I mentioned that I’ve been struggling with foot numbness while running, and decided to seek help from a physiotherapist, so I paid a visit to Gerardo Studio, which was recommended by several friends (including another physiotherapist). I didn’t know what to expect because most people I know only visit physiotherapists to treat an injury. I was also a bit apprehensive because I wanted someone to help solve the problem, not avoid it – and I’ve had some interactions with medical professionals whose approach was the latest. Thankfully, that wasn’t the outcome this time.

As I was partially expecting, Gerardo told me that the likely culprit for the numbness is a compressed nerve and prescribed stretching/mobility exercises to alleviate that pressure. He didn’t tell me I should stop running, but he did recommend dialing back on running for a while, as averaging 21km per week is too much volume for someone who started running recently.

This felt like a setback to my goal, but I’m aware that an injury would be a far more serious setback, so I followed his advice. I’ve temporarily replaced one of my low-intensity runs with a low-intensity mobility+strength training session (focused on run-specific exercises and other skills I want to practice) or simply enjoyed the extra rest day. Another alternative would be to replace that session with an equivalent non-running cardio session, like swimming or biking, but working on my mobility and other skills is a higher priority for me at this point.

There have been some improvements on the numbness situation: in some runs, it doesn’t happen at all, and when it does it’s usually less intense – only happening in one foot, or not reaching the point where I lose all sensation.

My first running event

In February, I participated in my first running event – a 10km race in Coimbra. My goal for this run was to have the best time possible, not to run the best time possible.

I wanted to go through and enjoy the experience of participating in a running event without pressure to perform well and the goal was achieved, 100%. I didn’t take audio cues and I don’t have a watch, so the whole time I had no idea what pace I was doing. The weather was delightful, and a lot of my friends were participating too, which made the whole day very enjoyable. While I typically run solo during workouts, the fact that so many of my friends are into running gives me a great sense of community and lot of motivation.

Here are some takeaways from the event.

I have a silly smile on all the photos from the event, no one will believe me anymore when I say I don't like running.
I have a silly smile on all the photos from the event, no one will believe me anymore when I say I don't like running.

Things that went well:

Things that could have gone better:

None of these are particularly important for a 10km no-pressure run, just things for me to keep in mind for more demanding events.

After the run, with my boyfriend and some of my friends who participated
After the run, with my boyfriend and some of my friends who participated.

Recap from 5 more weeks of training

Over the past five weeks, my longest run was 17.5km and I ran an average of 23.9km, which is only a small increase compared with the previous five-week period since I reduced the number of runs per week. My speed hasn’t improved significantly; however, I’ve noticed that runs are starting to feel easier – especially the day after lower body strength sessions, which always felt like hell.

There has been improvement in how my legs are handling the running load – I’m experiencing less soreness and no major discomfort on longer runs; plus, my leg muscles are stiffer and there’s a modest increase in the size of my calves. My cardiorespiratory endurance remains one of the most limiting factors at this point. While I’m gradually getting more comfortable with feeling short of breath, managing discomfort in my heart is still a struggle. So, interval training is not as scary as it used to seem, but keeping high-effort zones for longer periods is hard, both physically and mentally. I also began incorporating uphill segments into my routes sparingly, whereas, in the first weeks, I only ran downhill or straight routes.

I plan to stick with the current training split for a few more weeks before gradually reintroducing a third weekly running session, evaluating how that feels and always adjusting as needed.