No, not me. The verdict is still out on me. I'm talking about a world-class athlete, possibly the world's best athlete, who recently decided to have a go at the NYC marathon with less than adequate training. That's right. I'm talking about Lance Armstrong.
I discovered recently a poorly publicized fact that the “shin splint” problem that nagged him during his training and in the marathon is really a stress fracture. He must now avoid impact-related training for 6-12 weeks as it heals.
Lance may have the most well-developed aerobic system in the world but he committed a classic new runner mistake. He did not train to prepare his musculoskeletal system for the pounding it took during marathon training and actually running the marathon. This is why it is almost univerally advised that a new runner run for a year or more before attempting a marathon.
I always say to other noobs, like me, on the RW forums that "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." What I mean is, like Lance, just because you can go out and run 20 miles or do a hard Yasso workout or a tough hill workout, doesn't mean you should. The pounding that you take when you run is immense. And on top of that, like me, many new runners are overweight, increasing the stress on joints, muscles, tendons, cartilage.
If I were reading this post, I'd say, "Well, Vic, you sure don't practice what you preach. YOU just started running in March and YOU're running a marathon. What's up with that?" Well, that would be correct. What I am doing is NOT the smartest thing and probably over-ambitious. Looking back to June/July, I and others would have probably predicted that I would have ended up in as bad a shape as Lance if not worse.
I have, however, done things a lot differently from Lance. I think the one most important thing is that I have not been afraid or ashamed to run slowly. Sure it helps that my aerobic system isn't well-developed and I probably couldn't run fast if I wanted but I always run within myself. Lance probably made a mistake by committing to the sub-3 hour goal. Also, I listen to my body and back off at any sign of trouble. Lance's shin splints were nagging him throughout his training. I know that Lance is a world-class athlete with the whole world watching him. He has sponsors, interviews, magazine covers, and a whole lot of other pressure. Fortunately, I have the luxury of stepping back from the marathon whenever I choose. There's no shame for me in stepping back to the half and living to run a full another day. (No, June, I'm not switching to the half!).
I think Lance, like many new runners, set himself up for this. Was it worth it? Probably!!! Will he heal? I'm sure. Does he have regrets? I doubt it. But I think it's a good lesson for new runners.