Source: Authenticity in Relationships
Sigh. I’ve been dodging writing this blog for a while.
My last run, a few weeks ago, was a longer one. I had planned on an 18 mile run, from Ashburn, VA out past Leesburg (9 miles out and 9 miles back, along the WO&D trail). It all started well. My pace felt good, and I wasn’t very sore at all. It sure was cold though, but the running kept me warm, so I didn’t notice much.
On the way back, probably around mile 15 – I started to feel it. It was a slow throb in my right hip. I tried to push through it some, but it wouldn’t go away. I stopped for a moment to stretch it out (as my physical therapist had instructed), but when I went to go back to running I didn’t make it very far before the pain was back, and this time pretty unbearable. It got to the point that lifting my leg to run was too painful to do.
I ended up walking the last two miles of the trail back to my car. By the end of the two mile walk it hurt to even walk.
This wasn’t my first injury from long distance running, it was more like my 5th. I’ve been working with a physical therapist for more than two months now, and it’s not making much of a difference, and I’ve made a decision.
I’m going to switch to the half marathon.
That sucks just reading it. I hate to admit defeat – but at the same time, it’s for the best in the long run. The same way you have to know when to retreat from a losing Risk battle, before you over commit forces you cannot afford to lose, I feel it’s my time to call this one a race. If I continue with thinking I can complete a marathon when my body is telling me in no uncertain terms that I cannot – I might end up with a permanent injury.
So, I’ll be running the half-marathon in DC instead of the full, and I’m going to be happy about it. It’s still a whole lot of effort put in, and I’m proud of my progress – regardless of my stupid body’s rules on what it will and will not accept.
My last post was on the 11th of January, and it was after I had hurt my knee. More accurately, I had hurt my quadrilateral muscles at the place where they attached to my knee. This was after I had run 12 miles for the first time.
Since then, I’ve been going to a physical therapist, It’s been really helpful to have some guidance on the types and amounts of stretches and strengthening exercises. I started them the Tuesday after the 12 miler where I aggravated them in the first place, and skipped all my runs for the remainder of the week, and we pushed our Saturday big run until Sunday..but I still missed it come Sunday. My leg still just wasn’t up to snuff. I tried to run again on Monday, and only got a half an hour out when I knew I had to stop, or else.
I had thoughts of dashing the marathon.
I really didn’t want to give up though. Twice a day since then, I’ve been doing my exercises, and have seen the Physical Therapist 4 other times (with two more scheduled). On the 19th, I went out with Chris to run, having the blessing of my PT and the feeling like I could go and do it…and I DID! I ran 14 miles on January 19th, which surpasses the 13.1 mark for a 1/2 marathon! My knee felt really good, and I was happy to have made it out.
I thought with my stretches that I’d be able to run my regular monday/wednesday/thursday/saturday schedule the following week. This was not to be however. My knee strikes again! after the 14, I couldn’t muster the will to run through the pain (and I didn’t want to really damage an already achy knee). Additionally, come Wednesday, it snowed heavily here. The paths were icy and slick, and we decided to not run and risk injury (especially in the dark wee hours of the morning). It persisted even on Saturday, but I needed to get back out there.
I ended up going to Claude Moore Park, where they have an indoor running track, full gym, and pool. My PT had mentioned that running in a pool could keep me training when I couldn’t handle the impact with my knee, so to Claude Moore Park I went on Saturday the 26th. I thought to eschew the pool until I needed to, so I went to the elevated indoor track, stretched for a good half hour before hand, and began. I had intended to run 16 miles, but ended with 13.3 miles in, having run for about 2 hours. Boredom had done me in, in the end – the Fellowship of the Ring was completed, and I had neglected to bring the Two Towers to continue the quest. Music was ok for a while, but every lap I saw the clock on the wall, not moving. It was pretty demotivating. After the 2 hours of running, I gave up the goose and did another 20mins of stretching. I had a banana, and a blueberry protein shake (which both felt amazing).
This morning Chris and I ran 8 miles. The backs of my legs and knees felt pretty tight, but it wasn’t unbearable and I was able to keep running for the finish. My goal this weekend, in keeping in line with my schedule, is to run 18 miles this weekend. That’s a fair clip farther than the 14 we ran, and we never ran the 16 we were supposed to hit. I think it’s worth doing though, especially as we wind down towards the marathon. Those long training runs are going to be essential training for our mental state of being. We need to know we can run that far before we get to the marathon. They say its a mental game, and I’m starting to believe that it will be, but that’s only if the physical game allows us to get there.
I went to see a physical therapist, to evaluate my knee and get some tips for making it better, and to receive some advice on when I should go running again. After an initial evaluation, I was told that I basically have slight tendonitis in the patella (kneecap), where my quads attach, and stretching will help, as well as strengthening exercises. She prescribed the following stretches and strengthening exercises (for both legs, to keep them evenly worked out). These exercises are intended to strengthen the quads to the point where they can handle the amount of running I’m throwing at them.
Your hamstring muscle runs along the back of your upper leg. To stretch your hamstring muscles:
- Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or a door frame.
- Raise your left leg and rest your left heel against the wall. Keep your left knee slightly bent.
- Gently straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh.
- Hold for about 20 seconds.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- As your flexibility increases, maximize the stretch by gradually scooting yourself closer to the wall or door frame.
- Repeat this for each leg 3 times.
Iliotibial Band Stretch
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a band of tissue that runs along the outside of your hip, thigh and knee. To stretch your ITB:
- Stand near a wall or a piece of sturdy exercise equipment for support.
- Cross your left leg over your right leg at the ankle.
- Extend your left arm overhead, reaching toward your right side. You’ll feel a stretch along your left hip.
- Hold for about 20 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Do each leg 3 times.
Wall Stretch (Weight bearing Gastrocnemius and soleus muscles)
This stretch primarily addresses tension and lack of range of motion in the gastrocnemius muscle (outer calf), soleus muscle (inner calf), achilles tendon, posterior tibial tendon and the plantar fascia.
- This stretch is best performed in a doorway, although any other flat surface will work. Always perform this stretch while wearing supportive footwear.
- Stand in the doorway, arms’ length away. Place one forefoot up against the door jam with the heel seated firmly on the floor.
- Grab the door fame at waist level and pull your hip toward the door frame. Tension should develop anywhere from the back of the knee down through the calf, achilles, heel and into the long arch.
- Hold for 20 seconds
- repeat for each leg, 3 times.
Lying Quad Stretch
- Lie on the edge of a table or bed.
- let one half of your body lean off
- While holding on to something to keep you on the table/bed, grab the ankle of the leg hanging off (or use a band to pull it).
- Allow a deep stretch to happen, while pulling the ankle towards the butt.
I was also prescribed some preliminary strengthening exercises (isometrics).
Short Arc Quads.
- Place a towel roll under your knee.
- Kick your leg up working to straighten the knee.
- Complete 2 sets of 10 reps each leg.
Straight Leg Raise (Flexion)
- Tighten your thigh. Once you have the thigh muscle tight, raise the entire leg so your foot raises 10 inches.
- Lower the leg and relax the thigh muscle. It is important to relax the thigh between repetitions so that you get good at illuming your thigh muscle on and off .
- Complete 2 sets of 10 reps, each leg.
In the images above, the exercise I’m doing is the bottom example.
- Hold your trunk tight and keep your back straight
- Lie on your side and support your head
- Cross your top leg in front of you
- Keep your bottom leg straight
- Raise your bottom leg so your foot is level with (or slightly higher than) the opposite hip
- Lower the leg so your foot touches the floor
Quad sets (with Flexion)
- Sit with a rolled hand towel under the knee
- exert as much force as you can downward with the knee onto the towel.
- Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions, holding each for 3 seconds, for each leg.
If you feel like getting into running, these are some great stretches and exercises to prepare your muscles and ligaments for the task. I wish I had a list of these when I started.
Enjoy, and happy running!
My left knee is pretty messed up. The day of our 12 mile run, it was achey, but not unbearable. The next day however (even with appropriate stretching, nutrition, and manual removal of lactic acid buildup), my knee was more than just achey. It hurt to bend it, particularly when lifting as well (think stairs and walking).
The run was on Sunday, and it’s Wednesday now, and I’m still hurting. Not as much, but it’s still there. I bought a knee brace and have been wearing it. It helps. I also have a hot gel pack to let the pain soak away with. I had to miss a training run this morning, which sucks…and i’m worried that I’ll miss the 14 miler this weekend. It isn’t a huge deal if I have to, I’m not married to the idea, I just would rather run it than not (or rather, I’d like to be healthy enough to run it than not).
I scheduled an evaluation appointment at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, to begin physical therapy on my knee. Hopefully they’ll have some good tips or answers for me with this part of the journey.
My thoughtful wife Jessica sent me an article, with some highlights too. Here they are.
Strengthen The Quadriceps.
Leg curls using a weight machine is a good way to do this, but make sure you start out with light weights until your strength increases. Another exercise is simply knee bends. Here you hold onto a table or something similar for support and gradually bend the knees until the thighs are almost horizontal. Then straighten up and repeat. Using the front of your feet makes this more effective, and do not go beyond the horizontal, which just puts extra strain on the knee joints.
Wear Stability Shoes If You Pronate
Check with your local running store (or physiotherapist) if you suspect that you have a foot strike problem. Then buy the appropriate shoes to correct this. I also like to wear cushioning shoes for marathon training, but this is a personal choice and might not suit everyone.
Avoid Sloping Running Surfaces
If you frequently run on paved roads, try to pick a flatter area where possible. Even the sidewalk is preferable although it is often a harder surface. Running tracks in gyms are usually banked, so try to avoid these as much as possible.
Be Wary Of Speed Work
Although speedwork is often called for in more advanced marathon programs, it can be a major contributor to knee problems. If you decide to do this as part of your training, go for the longer (slower) intervals rather than the short bursts of fast running. Most of us can run a successful marathon without including any formal speedwork in our training.
Take It Easy On The Hills
Hill work is a great way to improve your leg strength and aerobic capacity, and should be part of your marathon training. However too aggressive an approach, and going too fast on the downhill, can be very detrimental to your knees. This is where the ‘listen to your body’ advice comes in. If you have been strengthening your quads, and you are wearing the right footwear you are probably OK. Just ease off the moment you start to feel any discomfort.
I’m going to focus on the PT and strengthening my quads. Hopefully I’ll be up to running, and not limping around my house before too long.
The run of the 6th of January was my 49th training run, the last run of the 15th week! (Week 15: Dec. 29th-Jan. 6th)
49 runs in, 15 weeks down, 10 weeks to go and I’ll be running the Saturday Rock N’ Roll Marathon in Washington, DC.
Week 15 Statistics!
- 8:55 /mile
- 6.51 miles
Notable week 15 information:
- We ran 12 miles on Sunday…technically it was the the first run of week 16, but we really just pushed our Saturday run to Sunday…bygones. We took the W&OD trail for the first time, which is a trail in Virginia nestled in the right of way of the former W&OD railroad tracks. It’s straight and level, and goes on for MILES.
- The run was good, and I wasn’t having any problems at all, until around mile 10. At this point, my leg was starting to dully ache, and my knee was as well. Plus, you could see down the trail for miles, and I could see the overpass that marked the ending of our route. It was torture to see it so far away, and never feeling like it got any closer. Those last miles were like standing and intently watching a pot boiling when you’re starving.
- Along the trail, EVILLY, there is a restaurant called Carolina Brother’s Pit Barbeque. I’ve never wanted barbeque so badly as I did when passing this joint. I’ve put it to Chris, I’d like to park next to the place next time, and start on the trial FROM there, so we can end there and pig out (no pork puns intended). Plus, next week it’ll be 14 miles, which means we’ll complete, for the first time, a half marathon! Well, more than half actually, half is 13.1, but whatever.
- My wonderful wife had cooked a delicious fish for lunch, and it was served with a salad and some gluten free pierogies, and it was all delicious.
- I had the power gel for the big run, and it was OK. Much more liquid than the last, but still mostly shitty. Chris had these gummy things with gel inside, much better and easier to eat. I’m going to have to get a pack I think.
- As has been my usual, while running I was listening to the Lord of the Rings, unabridged, on my iPhone. The fellowship of the rings is deep in Moria, and the drums have been sounded. They’re surrounded, and the words written by Ori in Balin’s book are looking doubly grim.
The run of the 29th of December was my 45th training run, the last run of the 14th week! (Week 14: Dec. 23rd-Dec. 29th)
45 runs in, 14 weeks down, 11 weeks to go and I’ll be running the Saturday Rock N’ Roll Marathon in Washington, DC.
Week 14 Statistics!
- 9:24 /mile
- 7.52 miles
Notable week 14 information:
- The Saturday big run this week was 11 miles. That’s from my house in Lowes Island, down Algonkian all the way to Route 7, and back. Seems like such a long time….
- Chris and I went to Potomac River Running. I went specifically for new gloves (I had cheap Champion brand gloves from Target). I give them 0/5 stars. First, they were supposed to be useable for touch screens. That capability went away in the first week, for some reason. Second, they busted the seams in short order, that was about week 3. This was with NO holding things, just running in the wind. BOOOO. I bought a pair of Saucony gloves, with mitten covers, and the thumb and forefinger pull back to enable you to use touchscreens. I plan on these lasting much longer.
- I also bought a balaclava, anticipating biting winds and colder temperatures as we roll deeper into winter. We talked to them about what to wear for cold temps, and we’ve been doing what we’re supposed to do; layers, layers, and more layers.
- I had a big strawberry whey protein shake when I got home, and it tasted really great! I was happy that I wouldn’t have to choke down a whole jar of stuff I didn’t like.
- I’ve tried out some gels for some calories on the longer runs. at around 6 miles I pulled out a Montana Huckleberry Hammer Gel. It did the trick, and I definitely got a boost out of it – and not in a bad, or jittery way. I just noticed that I had some energy. The problem was, it had a consistency of thick toothpaste, and it stuck on my lips when I missed (a reality while running and trying to eat). It tasted well enough though…but I think next time I might try the Cliff Shot Bloks.
- It started to hail around mile 6, and settled into fluffy snow around mile 8. It wasn’t cold, or if it was I was too warm from running to notice. I did notice the piece of hail bounce off my eyeball though, that SUCKED.
- Frodo finally reached Rivendell, having faced the Nazgul at Bruinen, and survived with the help of the Elf Lord Glorfindel. Fabulous reading.