My knee hurts

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.

The tide was out at Lorneville when I hit my turnaround point.

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.


Published by

April C

Writer, editor and mom in Saint John, NB.

5 thoughts on “My knee hurts”

  1. Nothing beats rest, but your PT can help speed your recovery. Acupuncture with electrodes (seriously) helped me come back from an IT band injury stronger, and I learned that a little plunger can be as good or better for the fascia than a roller (is a bit uncomfortable at first but it pulls up and around rather than smushing). You’ll make the right game time decision – good luck with this, April!

  2. Don’t get discouraged yet! Marathon training is as much about dealing with minor injuries and preventing major ones as anything else. Take a few days off (or cross-train) and then do a VERY short run. If you get through it ok, you likely dodged a bullet and can start slowly building up again. Immediately order the Pro-Tec IT Band Compression Wrap on Amazon for $22…you should be able to receive it before your next long run (I’d also recommend a soft compression sleeve too if you can find one). You’ll want to take Epsom Salt ice baths immediately after completing ALL long runs moving forward (start with a little lukewarm water you can tolerate, get in and then run the tap on cold to fill – it’s much easier than getting directly into cold water). Ice baths sound crazy to some but you’ll learn to actually like them – you’ll feel much better post-run and the next day too. :). Foam rolling the hips is another good practice.

    If you still have pain when running next time that is more than a 2-3 out of 10 on the discomfort scale, shut it down RIGHT AWAY and try getting through (first) stationary biking and (then) an elliptical workout or moderately aggressive walk pain free before running again. With Full-blown IT Band Syndrome the pain will go from 1 to 8 or 9 on the scale instantly and without warning, so it’s really quite easy to know if you have it – it’s a very intense burning or stabbing sensation on the outside of the knee.

    Really hoping that it was just one bad run and that you are able to turn it around! Even if you recover well over the next few days, injury prevention is still criticallyimportant in the last month…so I recommend the above measures either way 🙂

  3. Good move seeing the Physio, similar thing happened to me although a bit earlier in the schedule. I took a week off from running and saw the Physio coupled Aqua Jogging, yoga, foam rolling and stretching. This luckily rectified the problem, I hope the same is for you!

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