Why I Got Injured

My Injury

It's now been a week since my failed attempt to BQ at the Ogden Marathon on May 4, 2002. I wanted to run a 3:35 (8:12 pace), the BQ time for men in the 55-59 age group (I'm 57), but between mile 13 and 14, I felt a sudden sharp pain the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the calf muscle. I continued running, some miles fast and some miles slow, for the next 8 miles until the pain made it absolutely impossible for me to run. So at mile 22, while still on pace to BQ and still feeling strong and fit in every way except the excruciatingly painful lower calf muscle, I threw in the towel and walk-jogged the rest of the way in, to finish in 3:53:09 (my official chip time).

Injuries Don't Just Happen

As I've hobble around the last few days, trying to recover from my injury (a muscle tear in the right calf, not a ruptured Achilles tendon as I first feared), I've been thinking of all the reasons why I felt so strong and fit and yet got injured. Here is a list of things I did wrong that might have led to my injury. I publish them here so you can avoid a similar fate.

Rule #1: Don't make changes in your shoes within the last month or two before the marathon.

Rule #2: If your marathon training causes an injury, cut back training immediately and treat the injury aggressively.

Rule #3: It's better to cut back on your training and hope that the previous or subsequent training is sufficient rather than keep training hard and hope that the injury won't end up bothering you.

Rule #4: Warm up by doing normal running, not by doing jumping jacks.

Rule #5: Start the marathon at your projected marathon pace. If you feel good toward the end of the marathon, pick up the pace then.

Rule #6: Warm up before the start of the marathon.

Rule #7 (Someone sent this one to me): Don't get old.

Comments on these six rules would be greatly appreciated.

--Scott Zimmerman (scott@zimtech.org)