Ball and Chain – Half-Marathon Training

This is week 3 since I traded my New Balance 890 running shoes for an Aircast boot on my right foot to heal a stress reaction. After investing 435 miles over 10 weeks to train for the Fairfield half-marathon, and with the Northeast weather finally warming up and Spring in full bloom, the mental and emotional pain to shut down my training and reset my goal to a fall half-marathon has become unbearable. It feels like I have a ball-and-chain not only around my foot, but around my soul. My two sons continue to train and race during their outdoor track season, and I am relegated to the sidelines to watch and cheer.

I am using the downtime to heal, strengthen and reflect. Coach Jay Johnson has written several excellent articles about the importance of building a strong chassis to support the aerobic engine, and that the aerobic engine adapts faster to stress and stimulation than the chassis (hence more risk of runners incurring injuries if the chassis can’t support a strong aerobic engine). Coach Johnson (and others) have also shared their experience and advice about how to strengthen the chassis, and so I have adopted exercises from his Core H, General Strength and Mobility and Lunge Matrix workouts.

When I set my half-marathon goal, I was excited about learning, analyzing and adjusting my training. Enjoying life’s activities (in my opinion) is about learning, adapting and improving. I am reflecting about the root cause of my stress reaction (my hypothesis in Reset) and what I should do different once I heal. Distilling Coach Johnson’s and others’ advice, I have to allow more time for my chassis to adapt to the stress and stimulation from increasing training volume and intensity. My aerobic engine may be able to support an increase in volume and training, but my chassis may not, and without adequate adjustment and recovery, I may experience another breakdown.

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