Running · Sports

Yellow Flag

With each marathon I train for, I learn something new about my body.


It’s not always fun.


I’m in my 10th week of training for the Buffalo Marathon. The first eight weeks went just dandy. I walked around between runs tired but satisfied, focused on doing the work required to, as they say, kick it up a notch.


One day last week, it snowed. I trotted into the foothills and it was gorgeous – I felt like I was running in a snowglobe. I got home damp-haired, ruddy-cheeked, and full of good spirits after my “springtime wonderland” jaunt. My right knee felt a little sore later that night, but I didn’t think much of it. Soreness happens.




I got up the next morning unable to walk without pain. Staircases elicited mild profanity. The discomfort lasted all day. I clung to the illogical-but-desperate hope that maybe when I started running that afternoon, adrenaline would take over and the pain would *poof!* recede.


Nope. I didn’t even make it out of my parking lot. Duly chastised, I shuffled to the fitness center to try the elliptical machine. The machine was broken. Awesome.


That evening, my thoughts floated in suspension. Panic was assuaged by stubborn hope: Maybe it’s just a 24-hour knee bug. I sought counsel from my brother/coach, who ordered a treatment blitzkrieg: Foam roller. Massage stick. IcyHot for quads. I did that, and took some ibuprofen. The next day I could – hooray! – walk without pain, but I repeated the treatments, and took another day off from running to be safe. I even tried to lower my gluten intake (!!!), which reportedly reduces inflammation and expedites tissue recovery.


On the third day, I went for a tentative run: Slow. Flat surface. Massaging before and after.


It didn’t hurt. My quads groused a bit from the stick ‘n roller rigors [have you ever seen foam roller burns?], but the knee stayed quiet.


Same thing the next day.  On Saturday I went for a veeery careful long run. And finished it!


I’ve run every day since then. Carefully.


I’m thankful because this could be much, much worse. I am also frustrated. Make that FRUSTRATED, because I should be running my best training miles right now, not toddling along at the speed of a nervous snail. Who knew I would ever miss speed workouts??


I could pause here to say maybe this is a lesson in the value of slowing down and savoring one’s surroundings. Except that would be utter garbage. I already know the value of slowing down. I love slowing down. Just not…in the middle…of training…for a MARATHON!


I believe this is a yellow flag. Yellow flags, in any sport, happen for a reason. If you don’t heed them, you pay the consequences. Doubly so when they’re waved by your own body. Yellow flags mean “You don’t have to stop entirely, but proceed with caution.”


So I’m proceeding with caution, and trying to stay positive. At least I can proceed, even if slowly. Truly, I’m thankful for that. I have new running shoes, which I’m extra-excited about because I’ve reunited with the Nike Air Pegasus. I even christened my foam roller in pink Sharpie to lessen the temptation to hack it to pieces with my good chopping knife.


We’ll see how this goes.


At least my feet are happy!

9 thoughts on “Yellow Flag

  1. LOVE the colour of those Nikes! And that you named your foam roller a “buddy”! I agree – yellow flags are flagged (pardon the pun) for a reason. I like that you have taken the time out to take care of the issue instead of bulldozing through the training program. That takes courage and reflects a SMART runner who listens to her body. Hope the yellow flag raises soon!

  2. I hope your knee is fully healed. It’s a good thing you’re learning how to listen to your body. I didn’t, last time I trained for a marathon, and my hip pushed me into submission. I had to take almost a year off running to get it back into shape. Yellow is a beautiful color. Keep watching for it!

  3. Good luck with the training. I’m about to turn it in gear for a half this fall. As we all know, sometimes are bodies are trying to tell us something. Glad you took precautions and slowed it down.

  4. So glad you are feeling better and through that! Good luck on the rest of your training!! It couldn’t hurt to find a good sports therapist to get checked out every once in a while. I could never get through training without mine!

  5. So glad you are feeling better and got through that! Good luck on the rest of your training!! It couldn’t hurt to find a good sports therapist to get checked out every once in a while. I could never get through training without mine!

  6. Love your trainees! Sounds like you’re doing all the right things. My running coach is also a sports rehab lecturer so I get any niggles looked at immediately. It’s always worth consulting an expert, if only for the peace of mind.

  7. Shannon. The older you get the more yellow flags or lights appear to tell you to slow down instead of rushing through that intersection.

    Coach Holloway

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