Dealing with running injuries – cancelling my Amsterdam marathon

I haven´t posted anything new over the past month because I have been very busy. It is an exciting time as I am busy with my graduation and applying for a full-time job at the same time. During this busy time I was supposed to run the Amsterdam marathon on the 22th of October. But I decided not participate due to several injuries. They started occurring just before the 30km of Amsterdam Noord around August.

I did not run smooth anymore. My legs felt heavy and tired of all the running (I trained approximately 3 times a week for 6 months and had been running between 10km-19km every Monday).  I had a pain in my right hip and it felt like I was falling through it. Like it was very weak and not supporting while running. My old left leg achilles injury started coming back and I had a pain in the back of my left knee everytime I put my feet on the ground. I knew I couldn´t continue like this after I finished the Dam tot Damloop with quite some pain. I knew I had more than just sore legs…

I went to Maurits Kool, a physiotherapist who was helping my fellow marathon buddy with his injuries. He could tell at the intake meeting that my legs (especially my left leg) were not that strong. My left hamstring and buttock were quite weak as he did not expect that for a person who ran 30 km a month ago. He also felt that almost all my muscles in my left leg were enormously stiff.

Running injury analyses 3

Clearly going much deeper with my right hip compared to the other

Running injury analyses 2

The conclusion was that normal muscle pattern were not used properly and big muscles like my buttocks were not using their main function. Therefore other muscles were taking over the pressure and were overloaded. I had to start strengthening my hamstrings and buttocks with some exercises while he massaged me twice a week. And damn those massages hurt…

3 weeks before the marathon in I was still mentally prepared, biking 3 times a week for 50-80 km and swimming twice a week. But running 3 km and I had to quit because I was in so much pain. I was in topshape in terms  of condition but the load on my muscles would be way too much. Sometimes the best decision is to take a step back, so I decided to not run the marathon.

Bike training while injured

One of my bike workouts. Also taking a 20 minute coffee break at my friends works in Schagen

Marathon training schedule

My training ended right there. Looking back it might have been a little bit too intense. I did not follow the exact kilometers every training and never ran more than 19km in training due to the injuries.

Training for over a half year running 3 times a week…But deep down inside I knew it was the best decision. On 1 january 2013 I told myself to run a half marathon this year, that goal had been completed so this would just be a extra accomplishment but maybe still a bit too far away. I got the idea while I was in England being very fit after the half marathon. But a marathon is way different. I noticed that after the 30 km, it is just a whole different level. I think I still could´ve finished it, but if I compete in a race, I want to get the best result possible for me personally that day. Competing would just turn into a long 42 km slog and worsen my injuries more.

I feel much better at the moment. Running much smoother and feeling lighter in my legs. I joined a fitness gym where I will follow a training schedule for the coming weeks to build up strength and improve my coordination for the right muscle patterns. Including squads and other leg strengthening exercises.

This all has been a learning experience and I am back on track. Swimming, running and strength training should get me back on track after the off-season. Goals for 2014 will follow soon!

This article has been written by Erik Brandsma, a triathlete from the Netherlands with a dream to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona-Hawaii.