I am not going to lie, the last 10 miles or so of the Chickamauga Marathon last month were torture. Extreme knee pain. How ironic that what felt like a 10 mile death march was being played out on a civil war battlefield. After several weeks to sort of analyze the situation, the only thing I can really blame is my lack of commitment to the training plan. My muscles felt great post-race, the only thing holding me back was my knee and somewhat my hip. Basically, the pain was in one knee and mostly limited to going up or down stairs. I think it was probably classic runner’s knee, you know, going too far too soon in the plan without gradually building up the mileage.
A little less than two weeks after the marathon, I had my Thanksgiving half. I knew I didn’t want to cancel the race but had a lack of confidence in my ability to run full force since I was still experiencing knee pain. During the Chickamauga, I noticed more people than usual using a run-walk program. I know this because it was a no headphones race and all I could hear were the chirps of the various timers going off. Well, I could hear than and the dulcet tones of the only songs running through my head (John Denver’s Country Roads and Thank god I’m a Country Boy – I have no idea why as that is not my normal playlist, feel free to mock me).
The idea of doing the Thanksgiving Half Galloway style really appealed to me. I do not judge people who walk a marathon, get it done however you need to do it. You finished the same 26.2 I did, kudos to you. I am, however, hard on myself and judge myself for walking more than a water stop. Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole half, I had to let go of that issue within myself. I can’t say I completely OK with walking but it definitely made a difference in finishing versus not finishing that race.
The premise of Galloway at a high level is that you are giving your body rest breaks before you actually need it. Theoretically, when you get to those later miles while runners typically might slow down you are still filling good and can maintain your normal pace. The training plan on the Walt Disney website for the Goofy Challenge calls for 2 runs midweek (which I run as opposed to run/walk) and a long run (or two) on the weekend. For the Thanksgiving half, I ended up running a 6:1 ratio. Six minutes of running, one minute of walking. Of course, it took me three miles to realize that I didn’t have the timer set correctly on my Garmin but once I got going, it worked great. In the end it added about 10 minutes to my overall finish time. The difference being, I felt decent when I finished. I probably would have felt great had my knee not been bothering me going into the race.
The Saturday following the Thanksgiving Half, I was able to run 23 miles using Galloway from start to finish. I never felt any knee pain during that run and felt pretty good at the end. Had it been an actual marathon, I am pretty sure I could have pushed out three more miles. At this point, my knee feels 100% better and I am leaning towards running the 5k and Half during the Goofy and then using Galloway for the full. I cannot tell you how shocked I was at my ability to churn out those 23 miles. There is definitely something to methodology. Most likely, I will revert back to my normal running pattern for future races. For now, this works and I am so happy that I got over my self imposed running only rule and gave the Galloway method a try!
On sort of a post note, I have read that runner's knee can be helped by doing some strengthening exercises to include the abductor muscle. I have been working more on strength training the past few weeks in addition to sticking with the running plan in order to help the issue.