So, I finished the 12. And I the body I finished wasn’t what I thought but would be, I expected to be a little broken. I thought that I would likely have some sort of back pain (sometimes during a marathon I do feel u lower back pull). I expected stairs to be MASSIVE problem in my life. I had wondered if my piriformis would be a pain in the behind (if you get the pun you get it, if you don’t get the pun you should have now learned where the piriformis is) I did wonder if there would be an ITB or hip and knee issues as had affected me when I trained for my first ever marathon. But none of the above happened. In fact, when I finished I felt pretty awesome. I was tired, and emotional, but physically. I didn’t feel so bad. And I was relieved; given my line of work I needed to show I practiced what I preach. A broken Claire would have meant seriously questioning my career.
Initially I wondered if it was just an endorphin rush that was causing me to feel so good, and in a day or so it would pass, and the aches and pains would kick in. It’s now been over twelve days since I finished, and still I feel ok. I expected to need remedial treatments to make me feel better, but it seems that it was all the work at the front end that has served me most. In this case “train hard, run easy” is a phrase I can use with the utmost honesty.
That said, from day three to eight, I was wrecked. Those of you who followed on Instagram and Facebook will have seen the fall out of the tumble I took on day three, some of you may even have been “lucky” enough to have had images of my oozing whatsapped direct to them (You. Are. Welcome). This fall left a gaping hole in my knee, a large skinned area, a scrapped shin, a bruised and cut shoulder, and a right knee that swelled and made it agony to run. That wasn’t great. Neither were all the insect bites around my ankles. Blisters appeared between my toes, due to the heat. These feet that have never had suffered blisters suddenly had blisters, within blisters. Seriously. And between the toes, what even is that?! But by day 7 I was healing, pain killers where unnecessary, the blisters had healed for being treated and dressed nightly, issues with my legs, thankfully, had been confined to the superficial.
So, how did I train and complete the ”12” to avoid injury?
Hours upon hours and hours on my feet. I’m not messing, I started a run streak in 2016, at this point I am on day 603 days of running every day. Some days (maybe ten or so) I managed only a mile due to illness, or time, or stupidly long work days, but for the most part I ran 3miles minimum. I learned to run on tired legs, I learned when to go for it, and when to dial the pace back. I remembered that as pointless run streaking can be, I needed a damn good reason to stop
Rest days are rest days – yes, I ran daily, but also, I knew when to dial the pace back, like right back. Remember, a 11min mile is the same distance as a sub 7min mile. Literally some days the focus was a marathon, not a sprint. The task in hand was to complete the marathons each day, not race them, not set PBs, literally get from point A to B and be in the condition to do all again the next day, and the day after.
Pilates and core work are a must! I teach Pilates at least 5hrs a week, I stretch, I bend and work my core all the time. I know that I am very lucky to be able to do this during my work day and not everyone can find the time to do this – but you don’t need a full workout, 15 mins is good, 10 mins is good… just doing something is good.
I drank water all the time, all the time. All. The. Time. Amongst other things, dehydration will make your body tired, don’t ever let dehydration stop you. It’s simple, drink before you are thirsty, drink little and often. And not just water, get some electrolytes in there.
I ate and ate and ate. And when I didn’t feel like eating I didn’t. I ate on the run, literally stopped at the side of the road and had a burger one day. Carbs, protein, veg (nothing spicy I should stress). Good meals that filled me while I recovered of an evening and actual real food on the road.
Baths, with salt if you can, ease those muscles and it feels good too. One of the most relaxing ways to recover.
Stretching, where you and when you can stretch! I fell on day 3 of my challenge and the injuries I sustained made stretching as I normally would very painful, so I must confess I didn’t do as much as I could have done, but thankfully the little that I did do was enough.
I looked at the big picture. It wasn’t to go out and beast every day. I am firm believer that you should finish stronger than you started. The first few days of the “12” were hard as I got into the rhythm of things, but do I think I could have gone out on day thirteen and run another, maybe I could.
I listened to my body, never underestimate your own gut and instinct when it comes to you and how you should act or treat your body. Ever. And listen to what it tells you, know what your pains are. Some you can walk through, some you can run through, some you just need to stop.