For nearly 5 miles of Grandma’s Marathon earlier this month, everything felt good. No hamstring issues, my knee seemed locked in place and my hip felt tight.
Those mental notes buoyed my confidence, especially since all three areas had given me so many problems in the months leading up to the race. Then as I came to the mile 5 marker, there was a slight twinge. It was time for a little self-talk.
For the next 2 1/2 miles, there were small reminders that my best efforts could be sidelined by a muscle that wanted to go rogue.
As the temps climbed, and I sought shade on the left side of the road, I had an idea: what if I were to use the road’s camber to my advantage to keep my right leg stretched out? Running on the right side, it would force it to travel slightly further on each foot plant.
The trade off was that I’d spend more time in the sun.
It might seem like such a minor adjustment, but it worked. Once I committed to running on the right side of the road – except for tangents – I didn’t have leg issues the rest of the way. Subtle experiments and adjustments can work, and when you’re running 26.2 miles, you’ll take anything that helps make that task easier.
It turns out I finished the race feeling strong – and since then I’ve begun feeling healthier as the injuries slowly fade away. Over the next few weeks, I’m planning to just have fun running before gradually ramping up mileage for the next challenge: returning to the Twin Cities Marathon after a three-year absence.