It’s been a little over a month since my last post.. and that was a post about Disney, which I did in January. So really, the first quarter of the year, I haven’t been around… boo. It’s not that I don’t have anything interesting to say or that I have done.. it’s just, well.. several things have kinda been in limbo.. and I’ve been waiting for a good time to talk about them. Hmm.. guess I’ve waited long enough.
Today’s topic: Injury.
Yeah.. the “I” word. It sucks. I feel like I’m always recovering from something. I don’t think I’ve run without worrying about an injury since 2012. The knee pain I fought during the Dopey Challenge has pretty much healed itself (as I figured it would based on previous experience,) but the other knee pain, the stabbing-me-in-the-kneecap pain I’m still dealing with. I didn’t run really for about a month after Dopey.. and then I tried a little here and there. But I kept feeling the stabbing pain. I also noticed it was getting worse as I continued to do cardio kickboxing and Bodypump classes. Mostly, I could feel it when I did high impact jumping, jogging in place, and lunges. So I decided to back off. I stopped going to my gym classes, and stuck to yoga, walking (which doesn’t hurt) and seated weight machines.
Another month goes by, and I have a 5K staring me in the face. I had signed up for the B3 challenge again this year after not being able to complete it last year due to injury. March 16 was the first of 3 races that make up the challenge. Wearing a knee brace I was able to get through the race finishing in just under 31 minutes. A time I was pretty pleased with considering the circumstances. I had pain in the beginning of the race, but after warming up, the pain faded and was more in the background. I have a feeling adrenaline fed into that a bit too.
I attended an injury clinic at our local running store and got to meet a PT who seemed to know what was wrong with me. So I made an appointment and attended a formal session. I was told I have some muscle imbalances that can be corrected so that my knee can glide in the femoral groove better and the pain would subside. I did some exercises they gave me and came to a follow up with some positive results. (The pain hadn’t changed really, but he said he could feel a difference in my strength.) At that time he encouraged me to keep trying to run and work on my foot strike a bit (since I noticed that when I run more on my toes and lift my legs higher, it helps the pain go away.) I ran a couple times outside for 2- 3 miles and it didn’t feel too bad. I also noticed that the pain lessened in frequency and intensity when I wore more cushioned shoes. BUT on the treadmill, it hurts pretty bad. And going down hill sucks (uphill feels wonderful!) So, I went to see an orthopaedist.
They took x-rays at the Dr’s office. I told him about what I was experiencing and he basically said the same thing the other two PT’s had told me.. my knee is not tracking smoothly into the groove, and the friction is causing irritation and pain. My x-rays for the most part looked ok, but there was some cartilage wear under my knee cap.. and the tiny beginnings of a spur forming. The formal diagnosis- petellofemoral stress syndrome.. aka Runner’s Knee. A very common running injury. So, he ordered me some PT, and said that I shouldn’t run until I’ve gone to at least 10-12 sessions. BLAH.
I signed up for an intro PT session and a follow up session starting next week with the sports medicine group my orthopaedist is part of. I feel bad because I like the PT I was working with a few times before, but my insurance doesn’t cover that practice.. and with all the PT I’m supposed to do, I want to make sure my insurance covers it.
I’m kinda bummed. I had to sit out last spring due to injury. I was hoping my injuries from Dopey would heal by the time the nice weather rolled around, but this one is lingering. I bought a new pair of cushioned shoes in my last ditch effort to try and run an upcoming 10K, which happens to be the second race in the B3 challenge. This past Saturday I set out, hoping to make it through 4-5 miles. I ran the first one pretty good with little pain, but once I stopped to walk a minute, the pain came back, and I could barely run in 2 minute spurts without feeling it. I made it through 3 miles, but it took me 41 minutes. And I’m not sure I could have gone through another 1-2 miles, let alone do another 3. So.. I’m officially accepting defeat. I’m not going to run the race. I’m going to listen to the Dr and do my PT and take however long it takes to heal so I can come back and run pain free and strong.
I grabbed one of my running books that had a chapter on injury. In the chapter, they describe how tough an injury can be for a runner, basically because the athlete’s brain is biochemically wired to need that stimulation and reward (endorphins.) I’m no stranger to injury, and I know how tough it can be to just want to feel the air in your lungs and the wind in your face. Through running and fitness, I have built an identity for myself. When I can not be that identity, I feel lost, frustrated, lazy, bloated, and depressed. But the book had some tips on how to cope. Namely- treat your recovery like part of your training. Go to PT, work out a plan, stick to it. A runner’s mind is goal oriented. If they can’t run, they need a new goal to focus on. PT always trumps other workouts.. and focus on the end game of being strong and pain free.
SO PT is my plan and pain free is my goal. Wish me luck! I’ll try to come back here with more updates on that.. and I have some other non-running stuff to write about so I’ll get on that soon!