It’s the Last .2 That Gets You

IT USED TO BE THE ONLY MEANING I KNEW FOR “MARATHON” WAS WHEN FOLLOWED BY “DUNGEON CRAWL”. A year ago I never would have believed that I was capable of actually running 26.2 miles. Even 6 months ago, when I started this journey to lose weight and get fit, I still would have told you that you were nuts if you thought I could run a mile, never mind finish a race. But after running a 5K, a four-miler, and now an 8K, I’m completely sold on running. So much so that I just signed up for the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon in January.

Originally, my plan was to run the WDW Princess Half-Marathon in February. Marcy was on-board with doing it too, and we had some other friends that were planning on going down for the race as well. No plan, however, survives contact with the enemy. In this case, the enemy is a rather severe injury to Marcy’s knee. Add to that that our friends who were going to run the race no longer are because the timing doesn’t work out well. That means that the reasons for choosing that particular race aren’t valid anymore, and that itch to participate in the 20th anniversary run of the WDW Marathon made me think about changing races.

On the plus side, my running has been going so much better than I ever could have expected. My long runs are up over 6 miles now, and that’s even with problems with my form. Where I was being very cautious with my goal race, I realize now that I was being far too conservative. There are plenty of marathon training programs to choose from for beginners, and most range from 18 to 26 weeks. Sure, I’m not running Boston anytime too soon, but it seems entirely reasonable that I can manage an 11 minute pace (or better).

I still have a lot of work in front of me. The particular training plan that I’ve picked is the FIRST plan from the Furman Institute of Running. It runs for 18 weeks, and consists of only 3 runs each week with cross-training on at least 2 of the other days. The runs are a little harder than some other plans, mostly on the pacing for the long runs, and it involves a lot of speed work. But only 3 days a week goes well with my other complication, which is that I currently have a small issue with my right knee that has me starting physical therapy.

The knee problem is a combination of a little PTFS, and a little bit of tight IT bands. Thankfully, it’s not structural and it appears to be caused by my own poor form. Despite the Chi Running workshop, I’m still not getting a good lean. That means that I’m running upright and I’m overstriding, causing my right foot to come down hard on my heel. It also looks like the Vibram shoes were contributing a bit (so those have gone on the shelf), and I need a little more support than the Newtons offered. It was time for new shoes anyways, because I never thought that I would say that I’ve got over a couple hundred miles on those Newtons and it’s time for another pair of shoes.

I’ve got a little time to sort out the knee before I start on marathon training, and the good folks at Fast Track Physical Therapy have set up a plan to strengthen and stretch my muscles appropriately. It’s still up to me to correct my lean, though, and that’s just going to take a lot of focus. I know it’s hard for me to get right, but I also know what the exercises are from Chi Running. Like anything else important, I just need to work on it. At least doing a 6.5 mile run out on the street this past Saturday morning went much better than my midday runs on the treadmill have been going. Maybe the treadmill is another conspirator.

No matter. I’m commited. Or maybe I should be. Time will tell.

Todd Palino


I'm a dad, a small business owner, a systems engineer, a developer, and any number of other things.

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