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Road to the Marathon: Annie’s Marathon Training, Part I

foam rolling

Join us as we follow Annie Nussbaum, Perioperative Medicine Service Manager in the Department of Medicine at HSS and first time marathon runner, through her training for the TCS New York City Marathon. This is the first installment of a series documenting her journey.

I started running a little over 6 years ago, when I begrudgingly agreed to do the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in D.C. with some friends. At that time, I’d never run more than 3 miles. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the training and how accomplished I felt each time I ran farther than I’d ever run before. Since then, I ran a few half-marathons, including most recently, the NYC Half Marathon this past March. I felt really great during that race and was on such a high afterwards that I entered the New York Road Runners marathon lottery, never expecting to get a spot. Needless to say, I was shocked when I got the email last spring telling me I was in!

Since I was already in shape from the half, my plan was to keep up my fitness and then start the 18-week Hal Higdon training program. Well, things didn’t go according to plan. Towards the end of May, I started feeling a lot of tightness in my right calf and ankle, particularly when I woke up each morning. At first, it was just annoying when I ran, but as it started hurting more, I realized I was likely having a flare up of Achilles tendonitis.

After a lot of internet research, I decided rest, combined with stretching and foam rolling, was the only way it was going to get better. I also started wearing an ace bandage to bed so my foot could stay somewhat upright overnight, which helped with the morning tightness. I ended up taking off about 6 weeks, doing short runs occasionally to see how it was doing. It was slowly improving, and even though it would usually feel better once I got into the run, I was still unsure if I was healthy enough to undertake all the training I’d need for the marathon. Taking that time off was really hard, partly because I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get back in shape for marathon training, but more so because I missed running!

I decided to go to Dr. Jordan Metzl, a Primary Sports Medicine Physician at HSS, for his opinion. Fortunately, he told me that I could ease back into running without making things worse. He suggested some running shoe inserts instead of the orthotics I have always worn due to my flat feet. He told me that I had to start strength training and I’ve been doing his Iron Strength workouts on the cross-training days of my marathon training plan. I also started wearing calf compression sleeves. Even though there’s no research showing a proven benefit to the sleeves, I’ve found them to be helpful. I wear them when I run and for a few hours after my longer runs to help my calves recover.

Now with the marathon less than 2 months away, my ankle is feeling pretty good, but I can’t give up my stretching and training routine. I have a lot of running in the weeks ahead!

Annie Nussbaum is the Perioperative Medicine Service Manager in the Department of Medicine at Hospital for Special Surgery. Originally from Washington, D.C., she has lived in New York since 2008. She is currently training for her first marathon. When she’s not running, she enjoys yoga, traveling, and reading.

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