Run More Awesome / Training / Triathlon

Running Science Experiments

I conducted a little science experiment last night, and I must say, the results are promising. As many of you know, I’ve had trouble with my left knee and a little condition called ITB tendonitis ever since my half marathon last November. That was 10 months ago. How depressing! In August, I turned 26, and I resolved to run a marathon in this my 26th year. After the triathlon, I gave myself a week off and a trip to Chicago and came back ready and raring to train.

Last Friday was my first scheduled long run of seven miles. On Saturday, I actually set off to do this run around 11 AM, but about two miles into the run, my knee started hurting. Crap! It was raining anyway, and my feet were wet, so I capped my run at five miles. About one week before the triathlon, I went out for a 6.5 mile run in the middle of the afternoon, and my knee started hurting after about two miles. I had to walk the last two miles back to my house.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Sarah, maybe you shouldn’t run farther than two miles at a time. Maybe you just can’t run long distances anymore.”

I say, “That’s baloney.” What I haven’t told you is that the week after the triathlon, I completed 3 five-mile runs without any pain whatsoever. As I’m running in the rain on Saturday, I go over and over the painful runs and the painless runs in my head and try to identify possible variables that might contribute to the knee pain. There were two: time of day and my water pack. My painful runs were during the middle of the day while my painless runs were after 8 PM. Hmm…

So Monday night I did a little test. I went out for seven miles at 7:30 sans water pack. Guess what? Minimal knee pain. Whereas my normal knee pain gets up to a 6 or 7 (on a 10-point scale), it only reached a 3 or so last night. Does this prove my hypothesis correct? We’ll see.

I’m going to take marathon training a week at a time this fall. I’m moving my long runs from Fridays/Saturdays to Monday nights and see if night-time running continues to work. I’m a bit concerned about my pace. The slower I go, the longer I can run; however, my run on Monday night had an average pace time two minutes slower than my normal pace (14:00 miles rather than 12:00 miles), which adds up to a very, very long 26.2 miles.

In science, an experiment’s results are only valid if they can be repeated, so I guess we’ll see if I can go 8 pain-free miles next Monday. I’ll keep you posted…