How to Improve Your Marathon by 38 Minutes (after a serious injury)

Have you ever suffered from a running injury? I sure have – in fact, for 6 years I was constantly hurt!

Running after injury

I came down with almost every injury in the book:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Low back pain (SI joint alignment problems)
  • IT band syndrome
  • Quad strains, arch strains, ankle tendinitis…

For a long time, I was depressed and frustrated with this seemingly never-ending cycle of injuries. As soon as I got healthy, something else started to hurt. Negative thoughts and questions constantly ran through my mind:

Could I ever run healthy?

Was I going to experience pain every time I tried to train for a big race?

Do I just have to push through every injury because it’s a normal part of running?

And it took a serious case of ITBS that side-lined me for SIX MONTHS for me to finally break my injury cycle.

The process of figuring out what works (and what doesn’t) took me years. I invested thousands of dollars in research, workshops, functional movement screens, physical therapy, and interviews with running experts.

The result? I finally cracked the code of injury prevention and my running took off: I set a monster personal best in the marathon, ran more mileage than ever before, and have only had one injury since 2009!

But more importantly, I took this system of injury prevention and treatment and applied it to the runners I coach.

The results continue to blow me away. I realized I wasn’t a special snowflake – other runners experience the same injury struggles and my injury approach worked for them too.

Today we’re going to look at Aimee’s experience with multiple injuries and how she turned it all around to run a monster 38-minute personal best in the marathon.

Meet Aimee: a “TIP”

Aimee used to be what I call a TIP – a typical injured person. When she started running, she didn’t understand proper technique and thought injuries were a normal part of running – and the only way to get over them was to keep running and push through the pain.

Her experiences are unfortunately all too familiar to me:

I was constantly battling shin splints and plantar fasciitis and naively thought injuries were just part of running. I convinced myself that swimming made me more prone to being hurt because my body was never put through the physical impact of running.

Two weeks before my first marathon, I had shin splints worse than I had for years. Despite this, the marathon went pretty well, but after the race I had terrible plantar fasciitis and had trouble walking for weeks, in addition to shin splints that never went away.

In hindsight, I was also much more sore than what might be considered typical post-marathon soreness.

But her struggles didn’t stop there. Just a couple months after her marathon, she was completing a long run and developed the worst running pain she had ever experienced.

After seeing her primary care doctor and a physical therapist, they confirmed it was IT Band Syndrome. Their advice? “Stop running until it feels better.”

UGH. Doctors who aren’t runners give the worst advice. Moreover, Aimee said no doctor was able to help or provide guidance and she was quickly losing hope that she’d ever get better.

See, “rest” is rarely a helpful treatment strategy. Why? It doesn’t address the underlying cause of the injury.

Sure, you might feel better after a few weeks of no running. But when you start running, the actual injury trigger will probably still be there. That’s why you’re MUCH more likely to suffer the same injury again if you’ve already had it in the past.

What I personally find so distasteful of the “just rest” advice that’s so common among doctors who have no idea how to treat overuse injuries is that it puts you on the sidelines. It makes you helpless: a passive observer in the healing process when in fact, you should be proactive about your rehabilitation every single day.

Aimee agreed:

ITBS seemed to be a running-ending injury and that made me feel really helpless when I was first trying to fix the injury. I was quickly losing hope that I would ever get better and I didn’t have the confidence in myself to help heal my body.

So how did Aimee fare with her injuries?

“My body felt better and my injuries were fading…”

Even though she told me she was stubborn and ran through her ITBS (which we both don’t recommend), Aimee found hope with the Full Access Injury Prevention for Runners program.

After months of feeling sorry for myself, I stumbled across Strength Running. The more I read, the more intrigued I became with the program. Strength work targeting specific areas for ITBS made sense, so I committed and bought the program.

My goal was to get healthy and run a marathon in early 2015. Jason’s program helped me change my viewpoint and realize that the only thing that will help me grow stronger is hard work and determination.

After Aimee invested in Injury Prevention for Runners she realized a lot about her running and what she was doing wrong. She told me her main problems were proper form and runner-specific strength – two crucial pillars in my injury prevention system.

Instead of thinking she could “just go for a run,” she learned how to better structure her workouts. And instead of thinking static stretching was enough (oh dear God, no!), she changed her habits.

In just a few short weeks, Aimee’s running turned itself around:

During the program, I changed my running form AND my outlook on the sport. My body felt better, my injuries were fading, and I began to think of running more as a lifestyle rather than a hobby.

I had to change my perspective on running and the program helped guide the way.

Even after coaching swimmers for over ten years (and knowing that form is critical in the pool), Aimee soon realized just how important running form is for staying healthy.

Of course, results don’t happen overnight. She struggled with finding extra time for the “extras” that are necessary to run injury-free. But now, she can’t imagine running without them.

She told me that now she feels so much better and “truly ready to run.” Aimee also realized that she needed to make this new routine a habit.

And now that it is, she looks forward to not only the run itself but the runner-specific strength exercises and dynamic flexibility routines.

Aimee’s Big Marathon PR

After using the Injury Prevention for Runners program to get healthy, Aimee set her sights on the marathon. After her first marathon in 4:10, she was determined not to experience the same pain and injuries.Aimee Marathon PR

So Aimee used a training plan from the program (there’s a library of 12 training plans to help you stay healthy and run faster) and immediately felt great.

I never experienced more than a twinge of IT band pain and forgot all about ever having plantar fasciitis and shin splints – my legs felt great.

My goals going into the marathon evolved because I felt stronger and more determined to do well as I went through the training. At first, I wanted to finish the race healthy with a PR. As my training went on and I was feeling good, I decided to set a reach goal of seeing how close I could get to my Boston Marathon qualifying time.

I’m happy to report that I reached all of these goals – I crushed my first marathon time by a whopping 38 minutes and qualified for Boston.

My marathon recovery was dramatically faster than my first, with soreness subsiding by day 3 post-race. I’m looking forward to my future training runs and hopefully running Boston in 2016!

Aimee ran her second marathon in 3:32 – an incredible 38 minute marathon PR after suffering from a string of serious overuse injuries.

Can you imagine how much you could improve if you stayed healthy? Could you qualify for Boston and run this fast if you figured out what “smart” training looks like?

Why Aimee Was Successful

Before taking control of her running, Aimee did what many runners do: they run sporadic workouts, aren’t entirely sure what strength exercises to do, and don’t use much variety in their training. She told me:

Looking back, I’m actually surprised that I didn’t quit running out of boredom. Before using the injury prevention program, I used to run the same speed almost all of the time, with maybe a fartlek workout every other week.

Now I look forward to the variety of workouts. It’s fun and encouraging to see my times improve and feel stronger – strides are also a blast!

You can learn several specific lessons from Aimee’s transformation:

1. If you need help, get help. There’s nothing worse than “not knowing what you don’t know.” If you’re not sure what workouts to run, how to get healthy, the best way to increase your mileage, or how to finally stay injury-free – there’s a program for that!

2. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It took Aimee time to get healthy, finally get over her injuries, and begin the slow process of training for her second marathon. Don’t expect overnight results or a magic cure-all.

As Aimee told me:

Stick with it. Results won’t happen overnight. Sometimes it will be frustrating and there will be setbacks. Stay positive, treat yourself well, and you will reach your desired outcome!

3. Don’t ask “what if it doesn’t work.” Instead, ask “what if it DOES work?” Aimee was naturally hesitant about an online running program. She told me she had concerns and doubts, but she committed anyway.

She noticed that the program has helped thousands of runners. She saw that it’s by a certified running coach with a proven track record. So she invested in her running – and her results speak for themselves

Inspiration on Steroids

Inspiration is the only area where I condone performance-enhancing  substances 🙂

One reason that Aimee took the plunge and invested in Injury Prevention for Runners was that I offered free enrollment to the Strength Running Boot Camp – a 28-day course to help make running a consistent habit that sticks.

So for the next 3 days, I’m doing something I’ve never done before: I’m giving you the same support system as Aimee with free membership to the Boot Camp course.

Here’s what to do:

  • Buy ANY LEVEL of the program here and forward me your receipt
  • I’ll enroll you in the Boot Camp at no charge
  • The deadline for this limited-time offer is Friday at midnight Pacific
  • Done – it’s easy!

You’ll get daily lessons on motivation, consistency, injury prevention, and how to plan smarter training. You’ll also get the full Injury Prevention for Runners program with the exact injury treatment systems and training plans that propelled Aimee’s running to new heights.

Aimee didn’t just experience healthy running, higher strength and fitness levels. She now has a BQ marathon time and a proven training system that she can keep for life.

How many more personal bests will she run by using this program? How many weeks of wasted time being injured will she avoid? What huge accomplishments will she have because of this program?

It’s hard to tell – but as long as she applies the coaching lessons, strength workouts, and expert guidance she’ll be far ahead of her peers who just try to figure it out on their own.

If you’re on the fence about the program, Aimee has this to say:

I 100% recommend this program to anyone wanting to improve their running technique, train for a race, or get back into running after an injury.

I still can’t believe how much stronger I feel less than a year after the worst running injury I ever experienced. I’m excited to find out what else I’m capable of accomplishing! I have nothing but extreme gratitude to Jason and Injury Prevention for Runners.

Take a look at just some of the results runners like you have experienced. Email me if you have questions (support@strengthrunning.com). If this isn’t right for you, no worries!

But if you’re on the fence, learn more about the program details here.

A big congrats to Aimee is definitely in order for her transformation and marathon success. Job VERY well done!! Feel free to ask any questions or leave a note of congratulations in the comments below.

Was this post helpful?

Then you'll love the free email lessons I've never released here on the blog. Enter your email and you'll get:

  • The exact strength exercises that prevent injuries
  • Workouts that boost your speed (even for beginners)
  • Pacing strategies, coaching Q&A, and more

Comments

  1. Great to read, especially since I’m battling my own very bad back injury at the moment. It seems as if there is no end, even though I’ve got proper physio help at the moment, I just suffered a major, major, major set back that just makes me want to cry, not only because I don’t know how tot sit/walk/stand/sleep without pain, but also because getting back to running will take a lot longer now…..

    It’s so easy to give up and mope… it takes a lot of energy to stay positive and just keep going, especially because it just hurts SO MUCH.. So thanks for the read. I hope I can get as positive as Aimee.

  2. I also have back injury like Gaby. The pain is really bad, but I am going to stay positive and overcome this issue. Thanks for the great tips. Staying positive is the key here.

Trackbacks

  1. […] How to improve your marathon after an injury (case study) […]