Maintaining Fitness with Runner’s Knee

23 Jul

Okay folks.  It’s happening.  I feel like I’m finally having my “ohmygoshican’trun!??!” breakdown.  I have worked hard to maintain a positive attitude and a cheery disposition on my ‘vacation’ from running over the past 2 months – see I’m even using positive words like ‘vacation’ to fool myself into thinking this is a happy time.  Well this week I have really hit rock bottom.  I stare longingly at runners at times.  Other times I glare angrily at them as they joyfully jog along, smirking at me as I either a) walk slowly in my fitness gear or b) look out my car window.  Okay so maybe they aren’t smirking at me – but seriously, they might as well be…


Is that dust collecting on my shoes? Gasp!

Signs you may not be dealing with a lack of running well (aka Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude, RKNA):

  1. Angry or jealous thoughts regarding anything running related.  Runners included.
  2. Turning to food to deal with the frustration.  Nope I didn’t have half a box of girl scout cookies this morning.  Or several scoops of peanut butter straight up instead of a breakfast.  Not at all.
  3. Angry thoughts targeted toward the injury.  Frankly I’m just really mad at my knees right now.
  4. Sense of hopelessness.  No, but seriously, sometimes I feel a little lost without running.
  5. Feeling depressed (not the clinical kind – just the meh this sucks kind).  Running helps me to stay cheery.  Not running isn’t good for my attitude.
  6. Feeling like you “aren’t a runner.”  Yeah I used to be one of those…
  7. Not eating well or hydrating enough because after all “I’m not training and it doesn’t matter”

Step away from the peanut butter!


I don’t even remember what this is… a pull-up bar? a push-up bar? Was there even a time when I could do pull-ups? (okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic)


Absolutely I’ve used my new yoga block. I just prefer to use it with the packaging still on. Helps me feel more yogi.

As of this week I am officially displaying all signs of Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude.  A non-life threatening issue that can wreak havoc on your attitude, outlook, and disposition.  It can have ramifications on your social life, loved ones, and anyone in your path.  Proceed with caution.  Now that I have been (self) diagnosed, I feel more prepared in coming to terms with my condition.  Over the past couple weeks I have done some things well in dealing with the condition, but I’ve also bombed majorly in other aspects.  Now that I’m in this sad, pathetic position I’m realizing there were some crucial steps I could’ve taken to avoid this unpleasant condition.

Bottom line: It all comes down to maintaining fitness and staying active.

For me, the double whammy is not being able to run, but also slowly moving backward fitness-wise.  Major bummer.  These are the steps I wish I would’ve taken when I first got diagnosed.

1. Stop. Okay, so you’re freshly diagnosed with an injury.  Hooray, right?  The most important thing to do: stop using it.  I cut way back on my running, but I should’ve stopped entirely and switched to another form of fitness.

2. Find another outlet.  This is my number one mistake.  Instead of researching a pool for swimming or taking my bike into a shop to get fixed, I just stewed and swirled.  For the first few weeks I did well with my workout DVDs.  But I know myself, and replacing running with a cardio activity like swimming or biking would help simulate the theurapuetic benefits that running accomplishes.  The repetition is calming and I should’ve stinking made the effort and committed to a new activity for a couple months.  This would’ve helped tremendously.

3. DO YOUR EXERCISES!  A big one.  Again – for the first few months I was diligent.  But as time passed and I didn’t “see” improvement I got discouraged.  Well here’s the thing folks – normally recovery isn’t instant and it will take some time for those exercises to provide benefit.  Stay diligent and eventually there will be a payoff.

4. Maintain a healthy diet.  I have been doing about a B on this one, but eating balanced meals more regularly would’ve significantly helped.  Now I feel a little out of sorts without running and not eating as cleanly as I could be.  You are what you eat.  Now that I’ve been eating more processed/sweet things I can feel it.  And I don’t like it.

Recovery is possible.

I truly believe that my RKNA is a direct result of not doing the above.  Instead I have let myself get a little bit soft, a little bit lazy, and allowed myself to pout just a little too much.

The biggest secret?  Stay active.  Do whatever you can to maintain fitness and stay active… you won’t be sorry if you do!  Here are some ideas on how to maintain fitness when you can’t run regularly.  I wish that I had done a better job overall.

  • Walk.  Lace up those shoes, listen to music and go on nice walks.  They are relaxing and get you outside, moving, and active.
  • Swim.  See above – but seriously I should’ve made this happen.
  • Bike.  Again, see above.  Biking is a nice lower impact way to be active and outdoors.
  • Join a gym.  If you can use the elliptical and don’t own one, consider joining a gym or Y.  Generally these facilities have equipment that can be used with Runner’s Knee or other injuries.
  • Complete an at-home DVD program like P90X or ChaLean Extreme – one that is more focused on lifting.  I’m starting ChaLean next week and I CANT WAIT.  I think getting back into the swing of a program will really help.  Be careful not to choose something high impact that could cause more injury (in my case, Insanity).

Now that I know what I should’ve done, I’m trying to work on my attitude to try and turn this ship around!  I start ChaLean Extreme next week, which should be a big help.  I’m also going to research both joining a gym with a pool, and getting my bike fixed.  They may be out of my price range, but it’s at least worth taking a look!  August 5th is my start date with my first foray back to running.  It’s just 2 weeks away and will be an indicator of whether or not a fall race is happening this year.  Let the countdown begin!


What activities have you done when you couldn’t run?  How have you dealt with injuries?  Have you ever experienced Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude?

16 Responses to “Maintaining Fitness with Runner’s Knee”

  1. Catherine @ A Two Storey Home July 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Ahh, I’m sorry you’re experiencing RKNA, but this post was hilarious :) I can relate and HATE the feeling of not being able to run for an extended period of time–at first it does feel like a vacation, pressure’s off, etc., but then after a few weeks it gets old. You ARE still a runner–the vast majority of us have had to take time off for something like this. I bet the ChaLean Extreme will help you a lot, both physically and mentally. I’m sorry you’re having a tough time!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

      Hahah glad you enjoyed it. It was pretty therapeutic writing it ;) And you’re so right – in the beginning it’s kind of like, well this isn’t terrible… but then bleh. Thanks for the support, can’t wait to start ChaLean! :)

  2. Lucy @ Lucy On The Lookout July 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Oh nooo! (especially with the dust collecting running shoe looking sad!) I was actually pretty fooled by your positive ‘running vacation’ so I’m sorry to hear it’s been a difficult time for you. I am however positive that you will recover but running injuries can be so pesky in terms of time. I found the greatest help to be minimising weight bearing activities and I morphed into a fish. Yup, I hit up the swimming pool big time. So glad to hear you are too! Feel better soon, I’m sure you’ll get your running mojo back in no time once you’re up and about :)

  3. kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    I know right!? Terrible. Though I’m glad I fooled you ;) You becoming a fish has me encouraged! I really need to find a pool and get at it. I think that will help a lot. Thanks for the encouragement :)

  4. jojo922 July 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I’m feeling ya! My ankle is still slightly swollen from last weekend’s trail run so been treading lightly and have kept running at bay which totally sucks as a runner. But I’ve been maintaining with some yoga moves and stretches to keep any tight muscles from forming and been working on some core strengthening aka sit ups/curl ups which I kinda hate but have now come to enjoy :) Hang in there!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 24, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      Gah! Doesn’t it just stink?? I hope that your ankle is feeling better! Yoga is an awesome idea. I actually did that this morning and I’m feeling great! Doing something is better than doing nothing. Thanks for the encouragement – I hope you’re hanging in there too!

  5. bayrunnerjamie July 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    I can totally relate! I stopped running as of July 15 (I even remember the fateful date!) because I may have a stress fracture. You are absolutely right about staying active. I joined a gym nearby my house with a pool, yoga and cardio machines, which I will be able to use when the pain lessens. If the doctor confirms I have a stress fracture, I’m looking at 6-8 weeks of no running! It sounds terrible, but I’m so lucky that this is only a minor setback. This experience has given me the drive to train better, stronger and more disciplined once I am healed. You will be running again before you know it, just keep your body and mind active..and stay positive! :)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 24, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Aww! I’m so sorry to hear about your stress fracture – those are really no fun! You are so smart to have joined a gym with a pool. I’m sure that will help with your sanity, sometimes I think that’s the worst part! I had a possible stress fracture years ago and I swam a LOT. Eventually it got better and I really thank the rest and swimming for that. My good friend just got diagnosed with a stress fracture and she’s using our apartment’s pool to tread water every night – one way to stay active :) And you’re right – these are only minor setbacks! In the scheme of things we’ll be back at it before we know it. Thanks for the encouragement and I hope your foot heals up too!

  6. hkzwart July 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I feel you’re pain! Went thru the same having-to-give-up-running thing about 7 years ago. Undiagnosable knee pain when running. For years I used to look at all the terrible gaits, various body types, various ages who were running away and just GLARE!! I was so mad they could run and I couldn’t and it wasn’t fair! I used to swim and bike as alternatives. 4 years ago I found P90X and the rest is history… :) So, in a way, I’m glad I can’t run any more. It’s lead me to my true passion and love… getting to help others on their health and wellness journey. For now though, it’s ok to be angry, too! :)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 24, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      Aww thanks! I’m glad I’m not the only one glaring at random innocent runners. :) Though I’m hoping this one doesn’t take me out for the count for good! Though if it does, I know how important it is to stay active in other ways. I’m sure it will work out well in the end!

  7. happinesssavouredhot July 24, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    First I thought there was smoke coming out of your sneakers! LOL

    Great post. One of my friends has just been back to running after a LONG hiatus, and she sure found it very hard to have to wait.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 24, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Hahah! I love it! My shoes are so angry about not running they are smoking! ;) I conveniently found that dust while cleaning and thought it would be the perfect hilarious prop. I can definitely relate to your friend – it just stinks!

  8. Pamela July 25, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Thanks for your comment…. I totally understand your “pain”. I am getting total cabin fever. Gym and swimming is helping, but I nearly burst into tears when I drove past two girls running. 1 more week (hopefully)

  9. rontherunner April 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    The stationary bike does not hurt my knee so I warm-up well and go for it. Last night I did cardio for a half hour and then a half hour of hill climbs. I sweat buckets and have that “good” burning sensation today that I missed.

    The pros who use biking say it makes them faster, climb better and have better stamina for the final kick. As well as providing the rest needed from the high impact stuff

    Glad your running again.

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