Tag Archives: Knee Pain

No Running Lately

If you follow me on Strava, then you’ve probably noticed I haven’t run since February 10th. Yes, that was over 5 weeks ago! The reason why is twofold: I hurt myself, but I also was kind of over running… so it’s a welcomed (albeit forced) break. What happened, you ask? Great question! I sure do wish I had a good answer, but as with most running related injuries, I don’t. Here’s some background, though.

I was running about 20 miles per week for the last few months; nothing wild and crazy by any means, but enough to keep me in relatively decent running shape. I wasn’t doing any workouts or anything longer than 10 miles (which I think I did maybe three times). I’ve been lifting heavy weights once a week and trying to get in another strength training session (usually in the form of Pilates) and a day of yoga, but that was really it. Again, nothing wild and crazy. So on February 10th I set out for 8 miles since I was planning to run the NYC half on March 18th and wanted to make sure I had done at least one 10 mile run before then. The run was normal – dare I even say I felt good. The weather was ideal, and I ran those 8 miles in just under an 8 minute average – not blazing fast, but on the quicker ‘back to my old self’ side of things. But during the run I noticed some pressure in my knee — it felt almost like it needed a pop (like there was air in it). I didn’t think anything of it, but towards the end it started to bother me a little more. I finished my run, went and got coffee, and took an epsom salt bath thinking it was just a weird little ache that would go away. Oh was I wrong! As the day progressed it got more and more painful to the point where I couldn’t even squat down or get up without medial and lower knee pain. This was not good.

I knew based on the pain I was having going up and down stairs that running for the next few days was out of the cards. Again, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at first. But as the days progressed and the pain barely got better, I started to get worried. Did I tear something? Did I somehow break something in/around my knee? Doctor Google was, of course, not my friend. While I was frustrated, I also realized that I didn’t care that much. Sure, I wanted to run the NYC Half, but was I really that bummed about not having to force myself out of bed at 5am to run in the cold darkness? Not really. Maybe it’s because I’ve been injured more than I haven’t in the last 4 years, but I’m just so used to it now that it doesn’t wreck me like it used to. I’m also lucky that there are other fitness activities I can do when I’m hurt that I do enjoy. Thankfully spinning, yoga, and weight lifting (as long as I wasn’t squatting in those early days) was enough to give me my aerobic and anaerobic fix. Of course not running when you identify yourself as a runner stinks, but I’ve learned (pretty well I must say) to deal with it.

After about 4.5 weeks my knee pain was completely gone, but I was still too nervous to actually try a run. We’ve all been in those situations as injured runners where we think we’re okay to try a run again, we do it, and that run takes us back a few steps in our recovery process. Because there’s no hurry for me to ‘get back in it,’ I’m being overly cautious with my return. At this point I’m just over the 5 week mark since I hurt myself, and I’m thinking I will give myself at least another week before I try again. My PT who thinks it was a ligament strain said they usually take 4-6 weeks to heal… so why not just wait that long. I’ve also been dealing with some neuroma pain in my toe (thanks too tight rain boots!), so it’s not like I’ve been feeling monster anyway. I am signed up for the BAA 5k in April and I’d like to run that, even though I know it’s not going to be anywhere near the time I wanted… but oh well!

I had been thinking about trying to take a running break — a true running break when I don’t actually run at all for awhile — so this proved to be the forced opportunity to do so. I’m registered to run the NYC Marathon in November, and I really want to do it. I haven’t run a marathon since 2013 and haven’t made it through a training cycle uninjured since 2014. The only goals I have for the race are to actually get to the start line, and then once I do, get to the damn finish line (in one piece). I want to be able to start training without any lingering injuries or issues, and I know that taking a full break and starting back up slowly is my best chance to actually accomplish that. After I (hopefully) get through this round of marathon training, I’m going to take another hard look at my running and reevaluate if it’s something I really want to keep doing. Don’t get me wrong – I love running so much – but it’s just caused me more heartache and physical pain than I think it’s worth over the last 4 years. I mean, this isn’t my job and I want to be able to exercise and live without pain as I get older and beating myself up (for what?!) now isn’t worth it. That’s not to say I want to completely stop running, but I think I need to really consider not running any races over 13.1 miles for a long time (or ever). Lifting heavy, pouring sweat on a spin bike, and working my tiny muscles on the megaformer death machine till they shake give me a sense of accomplishment that while doesn’t rival running, is a close and maybe ‘good enough’ second place. And there’s always swimming.

So yeah, this post isn’t really anything new. Surprise, Danielle hasn’t been running because she hurt herself but still wants to try and run a marathon. That can be my memoir title. But I think I’ve finally turned a corner when it comes to forcing myself to do things that maybe just don’t work for me anymore. Or to try some new approaches. I’m feeling good considering I haven’t run in 5 weeks and don’t have a plan for when I’ll return, which quite frankly, is a pleasant surprise to myself. That being said I am planning on running the Newport 10k in May, and have a giveaway coming up! So if you want to run the Newport 10k with me in Jersey City in May stay tuned for a giveaway post later this week!!

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Running Update: Setbacks & Moving Forward

Running was going really well for me during the late fall and early winter. I PR’d two races (5 miler and 5k) and was crushing workouts and loving the run. I was running 6 days in a row with a long run, a tempo/workout run, and 4 “easier” days of running all together. It was a big adjustment to the type of “training” I’ve done in the past, but it was already producing results, and I felt great. I was being diligent about my pre-run warm-ups, and was actually doing post-run prehab, albeit not as frequently as I should have. I let time get in the way of things, and found myself coming in from a run, hopping right in the shower or getting started on dinner, and then going about my business and forgetting to do the routine that was scheduled. Well, that naturally resulted in a little bit of an overuse injury – dreaded ITBS.

I noticed a twinge when I would go from sitting down to standing up after a 10 mile run on December 21st. I didn’t think much of it, and continued the next week as normally scheduled. Looking back, I should have spent some extra time foam rolling and doing some strength work, but I didn’t. By the time I got to Christmas Eve, as I finished up an epic tempo run, I felt that dreaded tightness on the outside of my right knee. It’s a feeling I know all too well, as I’ve experienced it during almost every marathon I’ve run around mile 21. It wasn’t painful, but I knew exactly what it was. Since it was slight, I was hopeful that it wasn’t much of anything, and Christmas morning’s 4 mile run would be fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Christmas morning’s run was painful, and I knew the ITBS I thought I had was, in fact, ITBS… and that it wasn’t going to just go away. The run on 12/25 was the beginning of a month of on and off runs, most peppered with knee pain. The pain would start about a mile and a half in, and come and go depending on my stride. Sometimes it was brutally painful, and other times it was manageable. But I’m happy to report that after a month of rest and rehab, I’m back on the streets and running! I think it’s so important for runners to take the time to do a warm-up before they start a run, and to also do some type of post-run prehab routine. There are a few things in particular that I found to be extremely helpful as I battled ITBS, and I wanted to share them with you!

  •  Strength Running’s ITB Rehab Routine – If there’s one thing I’ve learned with the injuries I’ve sustained over my short running career so far, it’s that having strong hips, glutes, and core can be the difference between pain free and fast running, and sitting on the couch whining about how you can’t run. This routine focuses on strengthening the glutes and hips, which is where the ITB starts. All you need is a resistance band and about 5 minutes post-run. I did this daily during the month of January, and now do it 2-3 times a week.
  • Mrtyl Routine – This also focuses on the general glute and hip area, and doesn’t require any equipment. I also do this about 2 times a week.
  • Core work: Strength Running’s Standard Core Routine & Dr. Lesko’s Dozen Routine – Let me tell you, having a flat stomach does not mean you have a strong core (not that my stomach is flat). I always thought my core was decent, since I swam for so many years and a lot of power comes from your core, but I’m learning that is not true. Both of these routines are more than just crunches, and they work your entire core. The supine leg lifts in the Standard Core routine are killer, and I dread that part of the workout every single time… but I know they help, and I’m looking forward to the day where I can get through it without shaking uncontrollably and not counting down every second of the minute.
  • Foam Rolling – it’s awkward and it hurts, but it works. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and for awhile, I just didn’t do it. I bought a foam roller about 2 years ago when I had tight hips, but I just couldn’t get into a regular routine. I learned quickly, though, that the foam roller is really helpful – whether you have an injury or not. I try to spend about 5 minutes everyday foam rolling my hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves. If nothing else, it helps build my upper body strength as I’m trying to hold myself up while using the roller.

I’ve been running again consistently for two full weeks and am just starting my third. I have my fingers crossed that this little bout of ITBS is behind me, and I can carry on with training as scheduled for the month of February. How do I feel about finally being back in action? See below.

Hooray for pain free running!

Hooray for pain free running!

That being said, I don’t think the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16th is going to be a PR attempt. Unless training over the next few weeks goes fantastically (and it warms up and stops snowing and being icy), I don’t think I’ll have my fitness back up to where it was in December. So, my plan is to run the Shamrock Half as a workout, and run a goal half in April instead. There are quite a few around me, so after weighing my options and chatting with my coach, I decided on the Asbury Park Half on 4/26! This is the day before the New Jersey Marathon, so I’ll be able to cheer for everyone running the half or full on Sunday! Since it’s down the shore it should be relatively flat – I just hope it isn’t a windy day. I’m also planning to work a few other short local races into my schedule, but I haven’t committed to anything yet (as you can see from my Races page).

Tell me…
Have you ever dealt with ITBS? 
What’s your favorite runner specific strength routine?

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