I may or may not have mentioned that my running week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. As such, if a new year happens to not fall on a Monday then I start the following week.
So that first Monday of the year I was excited. After work I changed and was off to the gym where I did my shorter run on the treadmill and then did some strength training. Tuesday after work I geared up to run in the cold weather. I ran two miles north by all the high rises opting to avoid the path. The path is rather dark in the winter months and I am not comfortable running somewhere if I have difficulty seeing where I step. Anywho, the 4 mile run went well and then on Wednesday it was back to the gym.
Thursday I geared up for my run but about a mile in my knee was bothering me. It wasn’t really pain (at this point) but I could tell it was definitely tweaked somehow. Continue running and get to mile two… my turn around point. My knee is REALLY hurting me now. Full blown pain on the outside of my left knee. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. This is the knee that tends to flare up but this pain was totally different so I knew it couldn’t be a flare up.
Now I am faced with a decision. Running REALLY hurts but I am also two miles away from home. No cell phone and no bus pass and no money for a cab. I was dressed to RUN in cold weather… not walk. So I could walk home and freeze my tushy off or I could suck it up and run. I really had no other way to get home. So I ran. It was an excruciating 2 miles and by the time I got home I was limping my knee hurt so much.
I ice the knee regularly for about a week. It no longer hurts to walk so I decided to test my knee out with a run. I smartly choose to stay in the area and keep it short this time in case it starst to hurts to again.
A little over a mile into the run – Pain
I googled Knee pain and was bombarded by all these things about torn ligaments and that surgery would be needed. I am completely freaking out.
I am so beyond sad and disappointed. I met up with a friend that Friday evening to be cheered up. At one point he had both of his knees replaced and I had been telling him all of my symptoms. As soon as we met up he mentioned that he thought it was IT band and showed me “The Stick”
I had NO IDEA what an IT Band was. Never heard of it or the stick. He explained to me that it was not a serious injury and it could be managed… mostly with the stick.
I had already decided to make an appointment with a sports therapist. I choose a sports therapist off the bat because I knew the pain was caused from running. I had not fallen or been hit or even smacked my knee on anything. And I definitely didn’t do anything funny to it at the gym. So my conclusion was running was the cause of the injury. I also knew that I didn’t want to give up running. My past experience when I go to a doctor with knee pain always included the doctor telling me to no longer do X.
Not only was that usually horrible and incorrect advice for me but I wasn’t going to give up the new hobby that I fell in love with.
I should point out that every time a doctor told me not to do X I never listened. Instead I would find a way to manage the pain. Not in a grin and bear it kind of way but in a how can the pain be prevented kind of way. Over the years I have figured out that Ice is the curer of all pain… at least for me anyway…
So I had my doctor appointment the following Monday. I was nervous and I dreaded hearing that I wouldn’t be able to run anymore.
I was immediately impressed with the questions I was asked when I saw the doctor. Questions about my activity level – How often, how much, etc. Then Questions about what my goal is and if I still wanted to run. I performed a few “tests”… Meaning they took a look at the leg to determine the cause and how to fix it. I opted for an X-Ray as well because it had been several years since I got one and my father has arthritis and I wanted to make sure that I had no early signs of it. X-Ray came out all good and I was told it was my IT Band.
I have never been so happy to say “you were right” before… Once I left the appointment I text the friend that told me it was my IT Band that he was right. Then we joked about how happy I was to say “you were right” :-p
Not only did I have weak muscles but I also made a rookie mistake… Increased mileage too quickly. At the time, I thought I could essentially take two months off (Almost all of November and December) and still run 4 miles a day. WRONG!
Leave it to me to survive a year of training and running a half and get injured the SECOND YEAR.
So I did some physical therapy. It was only 5 sessions. Most of the exercises I already knew about but didn’t do that often. I had some muscle but I was definitely weaker on my left side. I also needed to do the advanced version of several of the exercises. My IT Band injury was predominately caused by increasing mileage too quickly. Grrrrr
I took a solid two weeks off from running while I focused more on strength training. When I started running again I started out VERY slow. Mostly, I was terrified of making my IT Band act up again. It was the beginning of March before I was able to run consistently without pain and for more than a mile. But at the same time, if I felt the slightest twinge I usually backed off and ended the run.
My trip to Texas for the RnR Dallas Half was coming up at the end of March and I had some decisions to make. I wanted to run the race but I knew it would be foolish. My longest run had been 4 miles and that was the week before the half. There was no way I could do this race without risking injury again.
I decided to still fly down to TX… after all I was also going to be able to visit my parents. My dad took me to the race expo so I could still get the T-shirt (which ended up being one expensive shirt) and to look around for a bit. I remember waking up race Morning itching to race. I was also bummed because I had been excited that both of my parents would be there to cheer me on. My parents support me but its rare that they are both in town for the same race.
This ended up being the first race that I ever bailed on…
I was disappointed that I couldn’t race but I knew it was the right decision. I still had plenty of other races on my schedule for the year. And I still had my goal of running the Marathon in October