I’ve now entered the hallowed phase of marathon training known as “obsessing over possible injury.”
And like most runners flirting this unspeakable affliction, I remained blissfully ignorant the past week, believing the knee pain I felt during the last 6-7 km of my 28.5 km run last weekend would just go away on its own.
I was so wrong.
Yesterday, as I set out on a beautiful afternoon on what should have been a perfect half-marathon long, slow distance, the niggling knee pain I had felt all week flared up with a vengeance.
I was less than 5 km into the run and I felt a tugging around the outside of my right knee. But I am a stubborn person (is there any other way to get through marathon training?) and decided I was going to push through this run with pain or without it.
It was minor at first, and I got through the first half with no major issues. Then, as I gradually got closer to home, I couldn’t make it through each 10 minute running section without a mini walk break. I would stop and stretch, but it almost felt like my leg was throbbing, all the way up to my hip.
With less than 2 km to go, I wanted to pick up speed and just get home. But I couldn’t. It hurt so bad, I stopped to walk and burst out in tears. I felt utter defeat and as the scenarios of this possible injury played out in my head – sitting out next weekend’s 20-miler, and what that would mean for getting through a May 29 marathon.
I got home and flopped on the couch, completely spent. I managed to toss together a protein smoothie, which I shared with my toddler son as he crawled all over my tired body. I felt like a banana peel left out on the highway. When he got frustrated that the thick smoothie wouldn’t suck up the straw, I got him his own spoon and we both gobbed dollops into our mouths.
Eventually I pulled myself together but I was down, and I rarely feel down after a run.
Here is what I realized:
I screwed up. I have not been cross training/strength training enough (or hardly at all). I have excuses, like fitting in the miles is tough enough as a working mom – how do I get to the gym on top of that? But that doesn’t matter, because training for a marathon is a big deal and until now I haven’t felt that gravity.
Here is what else: I need to take some time off running. Maybe a few days, maybe two weeks. I am only one month out from marathon day. So I may not run a 20-miler, which means I’ll have to trust that my 29.5 km long run will get me to the finish line.
And then there’s this: I might not be able to run this marathon at all. (But let’s not even consider this option right now).
For now, I am using ice, anti-inflammatories and the foam roller to massage sore areas. From my initial internet research and talking to friends, I think I have a case of runner’s knee, and likely IT band syndrome.
I have made an appointment with a physiotherapist, which may seem unnecessary but I really want the best advice on how to heal this while still holding on to hope of running 42.2 km in four weeks.