The fine line between Greatness and Injury {My experience running my first 100 mile week}

katie spokane river 50k

I definitely do not pretend to know everything, or anything really..

All i have is my experience and the stories that others have shared with me along the way. Combined, this makes up my knowledge, but as a runner and a student of life, i am always seeking more. I want to learn and be open to grow and improve, and I am fiercely determined to do my best.

A few weeks back I ran my biggest week ever, my first 100 mile week, the week before that was my first 90 mile week, and I was feeling unstoppable. The feeling that I got from running that much every day, constantly was insane. I loved it, it fueled my passion for running in the mountains every day and I was blind to what was coming or was happening I guess. 

So what happened, just in case you did not follow our VLOGS or cannot recall the details, let me recap. During the 100 mile week, yes I was feeling unstoppable, however looking back at it all now I clearly see it in a new light. It wasthursday and we just started to do our weekly tempo runs again now that the snow was gone and we could actually run at a decent speed. 2 Miles into the warm up I was feeling great, and now it was time for the 3 mile tempo part. About 1 mile into the tempo my calves began to cramp and there was a short and intense pain in the left one and minor pain in the right, I was mid tempo and it didn't seem serious so I kept running, and it slowly left. I thought… hum that was strange… but then it happened again on the last mile of my second 3 mile tempo section of that run… and I thought now this must be something more serious. I took it easy the rest of the run and cooled down really well. (Looking back this was my first sign that I was over-training,) but I was too ambitious/stoborn/excited/passionate to see it as it was and make the call to slow down on the training. 

I stretched and rolled my calves like hell, at night all day and I would even stop during my runs to stretch them but I did not ease off the miles… Gwen warned me and told me that I should take it easy if I was feeling like this could become worse, he said that it’s not a big deal if I do not hit 100 miles this week, I will have another chance down the road, and its not worth risking an injury that could put me out for weeks… 

Due to my determination to complete my first 100 mile week, wanting to keep up with gwen, and perhaps a little bit of denial..

I did not listen and I kept going. I finished the week, reached my goal and felt very very good about it. 

The next week was 90 miles and i took it slow and stretched, skipped any hard workouts (no tempo run and my long-run was super easy paced) and by the end of the week the pain in my calves was gone. The next week was 70 miles and I was feeling good again so I thought I could push hard during my tempo, and maybe complete my first good tempo of the season.. I did, and my tempo went amazing, I was so fast and felt so good, my best tempo ever actually.

 feeling my right quad... 

feeling my right quad... 

Then it hit.. the next day I had a strange pain in my right quad and hip-flexor. but I kept running.. it was just a little one, and it seemed to only hurt on downhills.. By Saturday it had gotten to the point where I was slightly limping on a downhill in mile 2 of our 8 mile run and my heart rate was at 180 (and I was not breathing hard and it was a downhill), so I decided to take it seriously. 

We had a 50k in one week and I knew it was getting to be crunch time. 

I walked home, pissed, sad and frustrated. I didn’t understand why or how this was happening, it was during a 70 mile week.. 

The next morning I skipped the run and walked to see if it felt better. no.

The next day, and still pain and still a high heart rate, even walking. I knew these were BOLD signs of over-training, and it was exactly what Gwen had been warning me of all this time.. but I didn't listen to him.. I wanted to keep up with him and train with him! (I think this ability to push hard through pain is good but bad if I do not learn how to manage it)

 Our Sandpoint Running crew before the race!

Our Sandpoint Running crew before the race!

I decided to run flat miles really easy all week until the race, but when I got down to a flat trail and began to just jog slowly, my heart rate was all ready at 170-180, and I had to walk a half mile in just to get it below 150.. then jogged for another 1/2 mile before the same thing happened.. this was so weird, my heart rate would not stay down even though I felt like it was super easy and I barely felt my leg! The pain in my leg confused the hell out of me, it just felt like a bruise on the outside of my quad.. I didn't know this pain, and how bad could a bruise be anyway? 
 the start of the race!

the start of the race!

Gwen told me thisheart rate thing was bad and I needed to rest, he warned me that high heart rate is a clear sign of over training.. but I still didn't want to just not run.. I walked the rest of the week until the 50K and even the night before I did not know if I would run it or not.

I was on the starting line and I decided to go for it , the strange bruise pain was there but not worse… I told myself that if it felt worse than it did earlier in the week I would stop. The adrenaline worked its magic and I felt great, I was cruising and right up there with the leading pack of women and men, and I didn't feel any pain at all! I was so excited and I decided I could race this 50k and go for the win! 15 miles in I still felt good, I had kept my heart rate under 160 which was my plan so I was cruising.  It was not until 23 miles in that shit hit the fan. I hit my low point when I was solo on the course, no one in front of me and no one behind, nothing to distract me from myself, my leg injury and reality set in. I could now feel my quad and my knee started to feel strange every now and then.. I didn't know what to do.. there was only 7 miles left, surely I could make it if I take it easy.. And so I slowed down a little bit.. knowing that this race was not my big goal, I have two 100 milers this summer that I need to complete, I need to be healthy for.. and so I really didn't know what to do. Should I stop now, even though this pain is not bad pain, its not like a major pain. Damn it I wish I had the experience to know what was the best call to make.. but I don’t, i am still new to this sport and learning. This was only the second 50k I had ever ran..

Before I knew it I was at an aid station where they told me the 1st place female was only 2 minutes ahead of me, and suddenly I had energy and felt great.. I was going to catch this girl and I had 6 miles to do it. So I took off, telling myself over and over that I would catch her and I would pass her, and I would win. This was the story that dominated my head for the next 3 miles, my heart rate was at 185 but I could keep this pace for sure! 

3 miles till the finish, with 28 miles completed the final stretch was something that must be done, and then I saw her- climbing a hill. I caught her, and I was going to pass her at the top of this hill, I would pass her and carry the lead to the finish line.. I was going to win!!! 

That plan did not work. As soon as I caught her she realized that I was a female and that I was coming after her 1st place spot. She was very kind and then once we climbed the hill she took off with speed like she had just been jogging the last 28 miles! I did everything I could to keep up with her, I held my position in 2nd but she was slowly getting away. I would catch up so she was just 50 meters ahead but I could not close it any more, I was giving all I had and it was not enough to win. My legs hurt, everything hurt, my knee started to hurt, my quad hurt, but nothing seemed to hurt any more than anything else..

 I can see the finish line!

I can see the finish line!

I kept pushing and came rolling into the finish line, 2nd place, only seconds behind her. 

Collapsing to the ground I was dizzy and nauseous. I lay there and hope that my legs will be ok, I beat my PR by 10 minutes and I was really close to my goal. I was very happy with my finish and I did everything I knew how to do in that moment.

 Total exhaustion.. 

Total exhaustion.. 



gwen on the podium spokane river 50k

The next day was bad. A new pain had sprung up, a sharp pain running over my knee cap, and my entire quad and hip flexor was in pain.

Looking into this injury and consulting good friends I realize that it was my IT band, and the pain I was feeling the weeks before was IT tightness. 

One of the most common overuse injuries in runners is IT band issues and knee issues resulting from that, and this is what I did to myself. My persistence, ignorance and stubbornness kept me from seeing the big picture and now I am out for a while.

I have been resting for 7 days now and it is a struggle each and every day to stay positive and keep my mind out of the gutter. I know that i need rest and that the pain will go away with time. I know that If I give it rest, the rest that I needed 3 weeks ago, that I will be able to run soon and complete my big goals this summer.

Our VLOG from the race!

But this is not easy. You guys know. You know that the line between greatness and injury is small. I am on a journey to seek personal grown and personal greatness. I accomplish my goals, and I am determined to grow and become a better runner. That is why I am very happy to talk to other runners and learn, grow, admit my mistakes and see them for what they are. I am new to running and I am not pretending to know it all or to have all this experience. I do not, and that is not me. Yes I am a coach and yes I get injured too, but that is what makes me me.

Gwen is a better running coach than me, and surely there are far better coaches and runners than gwen and I. Gwen and I work as a team when we coach our athletes, and together I think we make a strong team, not because we have all the answers and experience- but because we are not afraid to ask for help and admit that we may not know it all or have all the answers. But we can assure you that we will do everything in our power to find those answers out.

I was inspired by something that I heard Simon Sinek say recently in an interview and it resonates very well with me, he said:

“when someone comes telling you they are an expert in something, run away- because anyone who thinks they are an expert has stopped growing and allowing new information in”. 

I am forever a student of life, I will continue to learn and grow and I will never know all the answers or be the expert in anything- that would be boring anyway. I am forever learning and exploring life, and that is what I love about it.


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