Tag Archives: runner’s knee

Runner’s Knee Injury Update

9 Dec

Please, please, please, please fix my knee. Note: not my knees. A little hairy to be mine.

 

Well, I finally did it.  I went to the doctor again for my runner’s knee.  I was really afraid of what he might say…would I ever be able to run again??  Here’s where my runner’s knee was at prior to the visit:

  • It started a little over a year ago predominantly in my left knee, though both ached.
  • I experience pain under the knee cap and the pain increases the more active I am.
  • I went through physical therapy to improve the pain for about 2 months.
  • My runner’s knee is caused from poor “tracking” meaning my hips are too wide and my knee isn’t lining up as it should.

After going through a few months of physical therapy and months of “trying” to run, the pain has persisted.  Though the interesting thing is now the pain is focused much more on the RIGHT knee.  Odd that it has switched.  I have almost no pain in my left knee – which before was the main issue.  So after months of NOT running and continued pain (likely through all my dancing), I decided to head back to the doctor to see if it’s possible something more was the problem.

Upon arriving at my doctor’s office, I was first examined by a resident who did the usual “does this hurt?” examination.  After evaluating my knees in various positions, he said it seems like the pain is identical as I had before (just as suspected).  He left the room and shortly reentered with my doc.  After a series of physical examinations the conclusion was the same: runner’s knee.  My incorrect knee tracking (due to my big womanly hips) is causing my knees to rub continually and cause pain.

Le sigh.  Good that it’s nothing worse… but bad because, well… I already tried to solve this problem unsuccessfully!!!

So what’s the game plan? Here are some suggestions to help improve my knee:

  • Recommit to my PT exercises.  I did them religiously for awhile, but once I started ChaLean I noticed many of my PT exercises were in the videos – so I didn’t do them daily.  Looks like I have more outer hip strengthening to do.
  • Look into orthopedics.  My doc recommended Smart Feet to help improve my alignment.
  • Rest and Ice… yeah the usual.

So the big take away is that I NEED to get this resolved… because clearly running isn’t the only trigger.  I haven’t gone on a run in literally months, yet my knee is still swollen.  Dancing, bending, jumping… it seems like anything agitates it.  Once the wedding is over, I’m going to come up with a plan of attack and really see what I can do…because clearly it’s going to take a much more aggressive approach to get over this injury.

Project February: FIX MY KNEES!

Good news: My knee doesn’t appear to be broken forever.  It can be resolved.

Bad news: It still hasn’t been resolved and I’m kind of a at a loss for what more can be done.

I guess I should be pleased it isn’t anything worse!! :)  Happy Monday!

-Kelly

 

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Once I Can Run Again

21 Oct

Hello Monday!  Hope you all had a great weekend.  This weekend got me thinking a lot about running.  Truthfully, I try not to think about running.  It is kind of depressing, and I don’t particularly enjoy moping about…though it does happen.  My knees are still giving me pain even after a visit to the Doctor and Physical Therapy last May.  I know, I know… I need to go back and get it figured out.  More tests = more time, more money.  Between planning a wedding, performing in a musical, and trying to stay sane (Adam, I’m seriously trying to not be crazy I swear) I’ve decided to just put off figuring out why my Runner’s Knee isn’t improving until after the wedding (let’s call it my February project).  There’s only so many things I can handle at once.  And truth be told, I’m afraid of what the doctor will say.  Will I need to give up running for good?  By delaying a diagnosis I’m holding onto the hope that this is just an injury that can be overcome once I have more time to deal with it.  Brilliant plan I’d say.  Denial.  Works every time.

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Remember this happy runner girl after my 1:51 half? Yeah, me neither :(

Today was the first day in a while that I really allowed myself to think about running again.  At least think about it in a positive, hopeful sense.  I wanted to make some goals for ‘once I’m running again.’  Some of these may be impossible given whatever my knee injury might now be… but dare to dream right?

  1. Run some 5Ks.  Believe it or not, I’ve never run a 5K for time.  There was that one time I ‘illegally’ ran with my brother, but spent the race running backwards to keep him moving.  And hmm… I think that’s it!  I really want to see what I’m made of when it comes to shorter distances.  These may also be more knee friendly to me.
  2. Run another marathon.  My last full marathon was “pre-ankle injury” and I really want to get back out there and make it happen.  I have a goal of running Boston someday (yes, I realize that with my times I might have to wait until I’m 80), but I will never get closer to Boston if I never get back to marathons.
  3. Get better at hills.  Nashville is hilly, enough said.
  4. Improve my asthma.  I really want to get it under more control.  Right now I feel like it’s okay, but I’m hoping to really be able to say “yeah my asthma doesn’t affect my running potential at all.”  Not there yet.
  5. Do fun runs!  Whether they are 5Ks or half-marathons, I want to do more races with friends or groups of people.  I think those types of runs really shake up the “I’m running this for serious for time” and always help me remember the fun social aspect of running.
  6. Be a Runner’s Knee success story.  I’m not there yet, but I want to be able to say to other sufferers, “Hey!  You can get through it!  You can run again, it’s just a speed bump.”  Fingers crossed that will be me.

Happy Running!

Kelly

What are some of your running goals?  Have you ever overcome a big injury?

Running After Runner’s Knee

20 Aug

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Well folks, the good news – I’m running again!  I just finished my second full week of running and I’m feeling pretty okay.  I can’t say great, but I also can’t say bad.  I’ll take it!  My knees still feel somewhat achy, but are not full on painful.  Additionally I’m taking it slow and being very patient with myself.  I feel like until my alignment is really 100% straightened out I will probably continue to have achy knees.

To recap, what I have done since my Runner’s Knee diagnosis.

  • Took roughly 2 months off from running
  • Worked to improve my hip strength and flexibility through targeted exercises and yoga.
  • Stayed away from high impact exercises like Zumba, Insanity, or Plyometrics.
  • Focused on strength training (for my whole body).
  • Slowly working back into running following a running program from my doctor.

So far, it seems to be working, albeit far too slowly for my liking.  I know it takes time to develop the strength to improve my alignment, and it requires diligence.  From my doctor, research, and personal experience – these are the things to keep in mind when returning to running after Runner’s Knee.

1. Take it slowly!  You will not be able to BOOM run exactly how you were running.  And that’s okay.  Be patient and let your body get back into the swing of thing.

2. Continue to work on the root cause.  In my case, my runner’s knee is caused by week outer thigh muscles.  This is causing my knee alignment to be a bit off.   I have continued to work on these muscles even after starting up running again.  The exercises that help most: balance exercises, squats, or leg raises to the side.  Essentially anything that gets a little burn going in the outer thigh.  This is the number one thing to actually fix and lead to a successful recovery.  If you don’t attack the root cause – it will likely not “just fix itself”.

3. Maintain (or gain) a strong core.  Strength training can be a huge tool for runners to build endurance and speed.  I’ve continued to lift weights to remain strong and durable for my runs.

4. Increase mileage slowly.  I’m taking this one to heart and very carefully (and slowly) increasing my distance.  The most I’ve gone so far is 3.5 miles, with this week getting up to 4.5.  I really want to allow my body the chance to acclimate to distances.  No knee freak-outs please.  :)

5. Stay positive.  For me this translates to continuing to do other activities like ChaLean Extreme or Yoga.  If my knees hit another road block, I don’t want to fall into a dark pit of despair.  My positivity is also allowing me to focus on carefully and mindfully train.  I don’t want to get too excited and do some damage!

 

Until I’m back at it 100%, I’ll just keep plugging away at my recovery plan.  My doctor assured me that Runner’s Knee is relatively minor and it is totally possible to fully recover.  But I want to know…do any of you have success stories recovering from Runner’s Knee?

Have a great Tuesday!

-Kelly

Running and Wedding and Wedding, Oh my!

7 Aug

Half-way through the week!  Woot!  Somehow it’s been another busy one, full of lots of wedding planning, ChaLean Extreme (still loving it! :)), and trying to keep my sanity!  I’ve been a bit amazed at how much all this planning and business can be a bit anxiety-provoking at times.  However, I always remind myself that most of the big wedding decisions are complete!

It’s like every week I’m finding new, more irrelevant things to worry about.  Maybe it’s hormonal?  Maybe it’s the nature of big life changes?  Maybe it’s the pressure of planning a large event for all the people that matter in your life? Either way there are moments of extreme wedding planning joy (I love weddings, I can’t wait til January, oh my gosh this will be the best wedding EVER) and other moments of wedding disaster (Adam asking me when I want him to call back and me shouting “I can’t make another decision!!” Lovely.)

Running Updates

But before we get to the wedding stuff, let’s chat a bit about running!  Yes, I did say that 7 letter word!  I started running again, for the first time in a month?  And in June I only ran 2-3 times, so sufficient to say I took a very healthy break to allow my Runner’s Knee to heal up.  Though I don’t feel that I’m 100% miracle cured, I do feel it’s time to get running again.  My doctor gave me a progressing plan for running, and I want to start out with some smaller distances.  Hopefully my hip strength is a bit stronger now and this runner’s knee will give me a break.  I’m going to be patient with it and just try for a few times a week.  Let’s just say the first time back wasn’t pleasant: slow and labored!  It’s amazing how fast conditioning disappears.

I also officially signed up for my next half-marathon!  I know – kind of crazy.  But… there was a super discount if I signed up now, even though I was planning to wait (man am I a sucker for a deal).  And a lot of my friends signed up (total peer pressure).  And I figured – I will walk it if I can’t run.  Which sounds pretty long and unpleasant…let’s hope I don’t have to resort to that :) It’s in three months, so I’ve got time.  Fingers crossed that I’ll slowly, but surely be able to get at it.  Goals for the race?  Run the whole time.  No time, no pace… I will be ecstatic if I can just jog it.  Ecstatic.

Wedding Updates

The Jacket!

Alright…now onto the wedding fun!  This past weekend I was on the hunt with my future mother-in-law for a jacket of sorts for my wedding dress.  Because I’m getting married in January, I want something to cover my sleeves during the ceremony.  I just don’t want to look freezing!  The good news: I found the perfect one.  The bad news:  I can’t show you until January!  But, I’ll compromise and show you some of the runner ups :)

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Note: not my dress, just a random one at a shop. Sadly, this lovely jacket did not win! First runner-up.

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Again not my dress – random one in random shop. But, this jacket was edged out due to itchy lace and cost. 2nd Runner-Up.

The Decorations!

Decorations have been moving along quite nicely as well.  A great friend of mine is letting me borrow lots of her decorations from her wedding (and her 2 sisters, convenient).  The vases, overlays, and fake flower are beautiful – and FREE!  I will supplement the things I’ve been loaned and purchase a few new things like more blue bottles, fake snow, and some lights.  Not a bad deal at all.  When I sent out the “Hey do you guys have anything weddingish sitting around?” request to my friends, I was overwhelmed at how much people were willing to loan and help.  I’d definitely recommend reaching out to those close to you before buying everything!

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Starting to mock-up some of my decorations! Everything in this picture was borrowed from a friend (except the frame).

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Found these awesome frames for ONE DOLLAR at Ikea. I’ll put either table numbers or the menu/thank you/itinerary in here. They are double sided too! One per table.

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My dream centerpiece on Pinterest. Just lovely! We aren’t budgeting enough for decorations to do flowers (aren’t these amazing??), but I LOVE the fake snow in this centerpiece. Looks so wintery and classy! I’m going to try some fake snow with my donated centerpieces.

Time with Adam!

And last but not least, Adam is on vacation next week!!!  I can hardly contain my excitement.  Due to his residency he gets three weeks off a year: 1 one-week block and 1 two-week block.  His 1 week is next week, and his 2 weeks is our wedding.  And that’s it until next July!  It has certainly made scheduling tricky.  Adam is coming up to Indy (exotic vacation right?), and we’ll split our time with relaxing/visiting family and wedding planning. I. Cant. Wait.  It will be amazing.  Ah-mazing.  Hopefully Adam will be wildly impressed with my self-sufficient skills I’ve developed.

And last – a big THANK YOU to those of you that commented on my photographers blog!  We just received our prize:  a beautiful large print of our choice.  It’s gorgeous!  THANK YOU for helping us get it!!  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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I surprised Adam with a trip down to Nashville and the beautiful print! Can’t wait to hang it up!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Kelly

Which jacket did you like best?  Do you have any wedding stuff you want me to take off your or hands or borrow from you? :)

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…

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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”
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Step away from the peanut butter!

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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)

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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!

-Kelly

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?

The Benefits of Not Running

12 Jul

Well I haven’t been running, which you may know if you’ve been around here before.  You can check out my experiences with Runner’s Knee here: The Dreaded Runner’s Knee, Dealing with Runner’s Knee, and When Running Hurts, okay…so maybe I talk a lot about my inability to really run.  But what I wanted to do today is take a look at the positive side of this situation.  The benefits of not running!  Okay, I tease, there really aren’t that many true benefits.  But… this morning I was able to find TWO clean athletic socks (that matched) easily and swiftly and it got me thinking, “there have to be more positives out there!”  So for all you injured runners out there – this one is for you!

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The Benefits of Not Running

  • An abundance of clean running/workout clothes.  Now when I do my morning workout I no longer have to search and sniff test endlessly.  It’s super easy to find all parts of my workout ensemble that are clean.  Win!
  • Extra time to try new fitness trends!   Without all those hours spent running you could explore Zumba or Crossfit or any Beachbody at home DVD program.  Think of the possibilities!  Usually with all that time running I don’t feel motivated to check other things out – a non-serious injury allows you that excuse!  Or you can be like me and watch hours of old Grey’s Anatomy episodes on Netflix.  Endlessly.  Either activity is a big win!
  • Decreased hunger.  When I’m not running a ton every week, my hunger seems to go down to a tolerable level.  Though, the lack of running means I should probably keep track of what I eat a little better.  The excuse “I ran 10 miles today” no longer is valid…darn!
  • No paces to stress you out!  If you like to see improvements with running and get frustrated with slow times… one way to avoid all this?  No running at all!  No running = no pace = no stress.  Sounds brilliant to me.
  • No farmer tan.  I don’t have to worry this summer about my usual running shorts line on my thighs.  Now I can look better in my underwear.  Such a win.  Priorities people.
  • Money savings.  Race entries are expensive.  Like really expensive.  A break from running means a break on my wallet for awhile.  Though I have made up for it in Physical Therapy bills… womp womp.
  • Free Saturday mornings!  Without a long run to plan around I’m totally and blissfully available!  Saturday brunch?  No problem.  A late night on Friday?  No problem.  Want to drink wine at 9 am?  No problem.
  • No need to track the weather!  What a relief!  I no longer have to care about the humidity or chance or rain.  Is it a nice day?  Great.  Is it the most horrendously humid day every experienced?  Cool.
  • Nothing to compare.  If you have an issue comparing yourself to other runners…taking yourself out of the game removes all comparisons!  Now you can sit on a high pedestal and say “Oh if I could run, I totally would be faster and could run longer” and it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to prove it.  Sweet.

So if you’re currently injured and feeling sad – don’t worry, there are plenty of positives to the situation.  And, if these don’t make you feel like slightest bit better (or at least smile), hang in there… you’re not alone!

Happy Friday!

-Kelly

What positives would you add to the list?  How do you deal with breaks from running?

 

When Running Hurts

27 Jun

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I have to admit – I’ve been a little bit disenchanted with running lately.  Running and I have been in a long relationship for 10-15 years and we’ve had our ups and downs, so these feelings are to be expected from time to time.  We have moments of pure joy and ecstasy, followed by hurt and frustration.  It happens with any relationship.  At this point, I don’t let these bumps ruin what we have – but I tell you what… they are a pain!  My runner’s knee has been frustrating to no end- I still am not really running “pain free.”  Honestly, I’m feeling a bit discouraged – will my knees ever allow me to run wild and fancy-free again?

My other running frustration, asthma, has been flaring it’s nasty head lately too.  What happened to my gleeful runs of just 2 months ago?  You know, the ones where I was fast, fierce, and head-over-heels for running?  Yeah, they are gone for now.  Instead they’ve been replaced by their slower, asthmatic, heavy-breathing, painful stepsister.  It’s not a pretty sight.  Like usual I’m really trying to remain positive and be patient (key word: trying).  But it’s hard!  I want to be back to where I was… can’t I be, pretty please?

Well, since I’m not a fan of pity parties… let’s get productive.  I’ve been doing some brainstorming… what can I do when running hurts?  What can I do when I’m frustrated with running?  How can I feel more at peace about running, or my lack-of?  So instead of letting this frustration eat me up – here are some ideas for moving past the hurt in running.

What to do when running hurts:

  1. Stop.  This may seem like the obvious one… but why is it so hard to do?  As soon as I “shouldn’t” be running, it is ALL I want to do.  Taking a break from running helps your injury (or whatever hurts) recover, but also has the added benefit of giving you a mental break.  Normally when I come back at running following a break, I’m mentally fresh and recharged.  I’m trusting (and hoping) that will happen this time too.
  2. Try something new.  Noooo… I like running, I don’t want to do anything else!  I know, I know.  It’s hard.  It’s even hard for me to type it.  But, it’s possible that a little break from running might allow you (and me) the time to discover a new hobby.  And that’s exciting right?  When I trained for my first marathon I was experiencing stress-fracture symptoms and dove headfirst into swimming and biking (oh yeah, pun intended).  I essentially taught myself how to swim in a lane (a whole story for another day), but it gave me something to supplement my running.  Additionally I enjoyed the challenge of trying to not drown master something new.
  3. Stay away from running.  Sometimes when I’m really down about running, I just stay away: mentally, literally, in every way etc. etc.  I will stop reading Runner’s World (save it in a pile for later) or reading intently all my favorite running blogs or doing anything that could make me feel worse about not running.  It may sound a little extreme, but for me even a slight reduction in running related activities can be mentally helpful.
  4. Get involved with running. So in contrast to the point above… sometimes getting more involved in running “stuff” can be helpful.  Volunteer at a local race, plan for races in the future, or cheer on your friends from the sideline (or blogosphere).  I think it really depends on what particular issue is causing the pain and how you cope.  I’ve used both strategies at different times in my life and they both can be helpful.
  5. Be proactive with injuries.  The best way to avoid a serious injury is to listen to your body when you have a not-so-serious injury.  Take it as a cue to slow down, stretch more, ice more, or reduce mileage.  The sad fact is that running can cause running-related injuries.  Makes sense though.  Sometimes using your head to reduce miles instead of following your heart’s desire to run, run, run, can be most helpful in the long-run (no pun intended this time).
  6. Add in strength-training.  Want to make your body more durable?  Add in some weekly strength-training!  Getting your core and legs stronger will help your body once you do return to running.  Or if you haven’t stopped running, adding strength training now can help prevent injury in the future.
  7. Up the stretching.  This one is a hard one for me to remember.  I think it is for a lot of people.  Time is such a precious thing that spending 10 minutes to stretch after a run seems unnecessary or wasteful.  A whole ten minutes?? Well earth-to-kelly: it’s not wasteful!  It’s incredibly helpful in the prevention of running related injuries.  Can we make a pact that we’ll remind each other to do it?  Everyday?
  8. Don’t play the comparison game.  Gah – another one I stink at.  Don’t compare someone else’s running story with your own.  The reality is: I’m on my own running path and nothing anyone else does will affect my injury, ability, PRs, or races.  That’s a fact.  Try to stay away from letting your mind compare, “I wish I wasn’t injured so I could run an awesome race like Courtney.”  “It’s all because of my knees that I won’t get my PR like Katherine in the fall.”  “I’m not a real runner like Jane because I haven’t been able to run over 2 miles in months.”  It’s just a waste of time and in the end doesn’t result in anything positive.  The comparisons don’t even have to be against another person…sometimes I’m my own worst enemy/critic.  Take the names out of those thoughts and it’s still a negative comparison that doesn’t end well, “I won’t PR because of my injury” or “I’m not a real runner because I’ve been living it up on the coach for weeks.”  There is no winner with the comparison game.
  9. Stay positive!  Most running-related injuries can be overcome with proper rest, care, stretching, and fixing the root cause.  I have overcome running injuries in the past, I just need to remember I’ll do it again this time.
  10. Focus on nutrition.  One thing that often happens when I go from running 40 a miles a week to 10 is I eat the same way no matter the mileage.  This can lead to even more feelings of self pity because then I feel lethargic, and eventually a bit heavy.  This makes it even harder to get back at running when your body/injury is finally ready.  Don’t throw an ice cream pity party – save that for a real break-up.  You know you and running will make-up at some point.  Patience and take good care of your body in the meantime.

Man alive, I feel better already about my little running situation.  Here’s to hoping I can listen to my own words and continue to be patient as my knees recover.  Isn’t that always the hard part though?  It’s always easier said than done.  Well, if you’re struggling with running injuries – know you aren’t alone!  Sometimes that simple fact is helpful enough.

Happy almost-Friday!

-Kelly

What do you do when running hurts?  How do you channel it?

The Decision Not to Get Knee Replacements at Age 46

3 Jun

This post was supposed to be all about Day 1 of Insanity.  I would write about the difficult fit test (I was pouring sweat).  I would write about how I proudly crossed my workout off my Insanity wall calendar (I almost asked Adam to take a picture of me I was so excited).  I would write about my meals for the day, following the Insanity meal plan (I’ve been surprisingly satisfied).  I would tell you my initial thoughts and excitement (Shaun’s voice is slightly annoying, but I like the set).

Though all those things happened this morning, this post is not about all that…

This morning my alarm went off as usual and I excitedly remembered today was the day to start Insanity.  I laid in bed a few more minutes trying to convince myself to wake up.  No matter how excited I am for something, I still don’t want to wake up.  I must’ve fallen back asleep because I suddenly woke with a huge start, “I have a sports med doctor appointment this morning!!”  I completely forgot about my follow-up appointment and panicked that I was too late.  (How I remembered it in a start I have no idea).  Thankfully it was only 6:50 am and my appointment wasn’t until 8:30.  I decided to just move quickly in order to get through Day 1 of Insanity.  Adam took my before pictures and I watched the DVD.  Hilariously, step 1 was Obtain MD Consent…well isn’t that just convenient.  After finishing the fit test (I was only slightly sweaty and asthmatic), I quickly showered and went off to the doctor.

Over the last month, my recurrent knee pain has greatly reduced.  I have been going to physical therapy twice a week and performing exercises to strengthen my hips at home.  My Physical Therapist is wonderful and tells me I have been making great strides with my Runner’s Knee.  I would agree because my knees no longer ache at rest.  I’ve been feeling good and she even cleared me to start running this week (yay!).  My appointment today was with the sports med doc who originally diagnosed my runner’s knee and prescribed physical therapy.  Honestly I completely forgot about it altogether! (oops!) On my drive over I was contemplating whether or not to tell him I was starting Insanity.  After watching the intro DVD this morning I started getting really nervous.  It showed the proper form for squats, lunges, and jumps…all things my doc previously told me to avoid.  Is it possible Insanity might be harder on my knees than running?

Once I arrived a resident reviewed my symptoms and history.  He examined both knees and I explained the pain (and my decision to run 2 half-marathons sort of against doctor orders).  The resident was a runner and also has done Insanity – how convenient!  When I told him sheepishly I started Day 1 of Insanity today he just sort of shook his head.  He thought for a moment and said, “you know…Insanity will be harder on your knees than running.”  Le sigh.  I was really hoping he wouldn’t say that.  After he finished his exam my doctor came in to take a look.  He was very pleased with my progress and said that he could tell that things were looking better.  (Hooray!)  But… (and there’s always a but) my knees are still recovering and they aren’t fully there yet.  Okay.  I can deal with that.   He said it was time to start running and gave me a 5 week schedule to follow to build back up my mileage.  The first run is .5 mile just to give you an idea of where I’ll start out.  Double sigh.

Should I even mention Insanity?  He’s just going to say no.  If he doesn’t want me to run more than half a mile I hardly think he will allow Insanity.

“Well, I don’t know if the resident told you…but I just started Insanity today and I was hoping to incorporate that daily.”

Look of unhappiness crosses doctor’s face.

“Is that the one full of squats and jumping?”

I started feeling hot as my face turned red

“Yeah…”

After discussing it for a few minutes my doc agreed to allow me to start Insanity but… not bend my knees more than 30 degrees.  I also wasn’t allowed to double up running and Insanity – too much stress on my knees.  I could do one or the other.  I left with a running plan, prescription for orthotics, and a huge lump of disappointment in my stomach.  I couldn’t help but feel depressed.  My plans were all shot now!  I should’ve felt happy that my knees were making such good progress – instead I was so incredibly disappointed.

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Ignore the laughter – 2 convos at once…but you can see where Dr. Adam’s feelings are on the matter.

The rest of the morning I had a bit of a sad attitude and really didn’t know what to do.  Should I do Insanity, but have to modify like crazy and worry about my knees?  Should I push it off for a few months until my knees fully recover?  Should I try it for a week and see how my knees feel? I threw around all the options in my head and landed on what felt to be the smartest decision: I shouldn’t continue with Insanity yet.  (Noooooo!!)

My knees are just beginning to recover, I would be heartbroken if I had another setback with them.  Yes I’m a little heartbroken I can’t get going on Insanity, but the nice thing is: I still have the DVDs and program!  It isn’t going anywhere, there is no rush or time limit on finishing it.  I’m just going to have to be patient and wait until my knees are ‘back to normal.’  At the heart of things I’m a runner, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that…especially after I’ve seen so many improvements lately.

So I’m sad to report that you won’t be able to follow along with the Insanity program.  No updates, no reports, and no reviews.  I always love following blogs that have goals and programs so it’s disappointing not to be able to write about that journey. But I think there comes a point where you just have to let go of ego (This is where I say get a grip Kelly…your only hard-core dedicated reader won’t care what you write about.  Hi Mom!) and do what’s smart.

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Yeah I even let this thought cross my mind…thank goodness for Adam and auto-correct.

So instead I’m going to come up with a game plan over the next few days and create a program to help strengthen my knees and my running.  I have no idea what that will look like – but I’m sure I will think of something.  Throughout the day I have felt more positive about my diagnosis, and honestly, I’m truly happy to be taking care of my knees.  I believe they will thank me some day.  And maybe, just maybe…I’ll get that sub 1:50 half-marathon.

So until I have a plan…have a happy Monday!

-Kelly

Dealing with Runner’s Knee

9 May

runLast night, I had a very anticipated and successful trip to the Physical Therapist (PT).  Last week my visit to the Sports Med doc landed me with a prescription and diagnosis of Patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka Runner’s knee).  This is a very common overuse injury, and my appointment last night armed me with even more information and most importantly, a plan. 

What’s the problem?

Just a recap (Get it?  Knee cap? Ok – that pun was intended and bad).  Runner’s knee is a phrase used to describe a couple conditions that all cause pain around the front of the knee.  Mine is most likely Patellofemoral malalignment – essentially my knee isn’t ‘tracking’ appropriately. Tracking is referring to the bending motion and how the patella (knee cap) should slide easily in the femoral groove.  Because the knee is very sensitive and pretty complex, it is a likely joint to experience endurance pain. (How many CLs do we have? ACL, MCL?)  In my case I experience knee pain while I run, but also when I’m just relaxing at home.  My knees feel most at ease when they are extended and not in a bent position.  

What is the cause?

There are myriad causes of Runner’s knee – one of the biggest reasons it’s the most common running injury.  These are the most common causes found in the paperwork from my PT:

  • Malalignment of the kneecap (due to biomechanics)
  • Complete or partial dislocation
  • Injury or trauma
  • Weakness of thigh muscles
  • Flat feet
  • Excessive training or overuse
  • Tight or weak leg muscles

During the appointment my PT did a number of tests by having me push or pull against her in various ways.  She had me walk and evaluated my gait.  At my next appointment she’s going to put me on the treadmill to watch my running gait.  Because there are many possible causes, she had to go through several little tests to rule out possibilities.

What’s the word?

The end result?  I have weakness in my hips that is causing my knees to pull slightly out of alignment.  While walking and running short distances, this isn’t noticeable, but once I get up in miles, it is essentially hours of my knee bone rubbing against my thigh bone – yikes.  That’s exactly how my knees feel! 

What’s next?

The great news is this can be fixed!  My PT was very optimistic about my situation and felt like it could be resolved.  She assigned me 4 exercises to complete at minimum once a day.  These exercises are all aimed at strengthening my outer hip muscles (yeah…never really thought about bulking up those muscles!). Additionally I have a few other appointments scheduled where she will continue to work with me to get me back up to speed.  She’s a little against my upcoming half-marathon, but said she’ll help in any way to get me to run it as safely as possible.  Next week we’ll talk about specific taping techniques to help my knees.

Long-term

After my next half-marathon I will be taking 2 weeks off of any knee stressing exercises.  This includes running, legs lifting, or Insanity.  I think both physically and mentally this might be a nice break.  I know my knees will certainly appreciate the chance to let the inflammation go down.   I’ll probably fill my time with walking, yoga, and some of the lower impact P90X videos.  Once I get the clearance from her to pick up the pace I will start introducing low-mileage runs and hopefully Insanity during the first few weeks of June. She doesn’t feel that this injury will permanently or long-term side line me from running.  This is amazing news.

How am I feeling?

Thrilled!  I have exercises, a plan, and an awesome PT to help get me to the next finish line.  My biggest priority at this point is to deliberately do my exercises every day – I know that’s incredibly important to my recovery.  Feel free to casually harass me about my knee exercise progress.  (Hey Kelly great recipe post…you better be doing your exercises!) I have appointed almost-Dr. Adam (he graduates from med school this weekend!) to be a key reminder in my exercises as well.  I’m also going to continue to ice and rest my knees as much as possible.

Prevention

If you want to stay happy and injury-free, follow these tips!

  • Warm-up and stretch appropriately.  This one is such common sense, but it’s amazing how easy it is to skip.  Find a couple stretches to do every time and get in the habit of doing those same stretches.  Warming up sufficiently is also key.
  • Increase the intensity of workouts slowly. This one always seems to get me every time.  The typical rule is don’t increase distance more than 10% in a week.  This means following a quality training program (check out Runner’s World for some good ones) and sticking to it.  Just because you have a great run one week doesn’t mean you can up the speed or distance by a crazy amount. (I’m talking to myself here!)
  • Keep yourself in good shape.  Make sure your body is strong!  Incorporate weight training and core work to make sure your whole body is strong.  Consider adding legs/hip exercises to strengthen your whole leg.

Worried about Runner’s Knee?

The first step would be to talk to a medical professional.  I saw a sports med doc and he was wonderful in guiding my diagnosis.  Just because you experience knee pain doesn’t mean it’s Runner’s Knee.  A doctor or PT can help you determine your exact cause of pain.  Until I see a professional, I always use the RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. 

A hopeful summer of running and fitness

The other great news is that this means I can move forward in planning.  If you’ve been around here for a couple posts you probably have gathered that I like planning and organization.  Now that the mini is over I have been looking ahead to fall races and potentially spring stuff.  I have been going back and forth on marathon vs. half-marathon and my diagnosis has affirmed that I want to continue with the half-marathon distance for at least a little while.  This summer I have deemed “The Summer of Speed!”  (don’t worry – I’m not turning to drugs ;)).  Because the pain comes from many miles, I will stick to shorter distances and work on running in the 7’s as I so desperately needed during the mini.  Perhaps in the spring or fall next year I will look at getting back at the full marathon distance.  At this point I’m thrilled to continue to train for a distance that I really enjoy.  I feel like I still have some time to shave off – bring it on fall 13.1!  I’m excited to start picking out races :)

-Kelly

Have you ever experienced Runner’s Knee?  How do you recover from injuries?

The Dreaded Runner’s Knee

1 May

Well, I finally did it.  I went to the doctor about my knee pain.  As a long distance runner I’m very accustomed to over-use injuries.  Whether it’s stress fractures or sore joints or ankle pain – been there done that.  Normally the recipe for success and recovery is the same sad story: no running, rest, and ice.  When my knee pain started last September I did just that.  I dropped my half-marathon, I stopped running completely, and I let myself totally rest.  About 6 weeks later I began P90X and maybe a month after that I started running again – this time only short distances.  I am pretty “by the book” when it comes to treating injuries, so I really expected a quick recovery.  My body had something else in mind.  When I started training in February for the mini-marathon I experienced little knee pain and felt confident progressing.  About a month ago, however, I had to walk home because the pain was too much.  That was the final straw.  If weeks of rest, strength-training, and limited racing didn’t solve the problem, there had to be more to the story.

Today I found out that I have Patellofemoral syndrome aka ‘Runner’s Knee.’  This is the most common running injury and certainly nothing out of the ordinary.  It’s a relief that this is something pretty standard, but also a bummer that it is bad enough to be qualified as something.  My sports med doc was very thorough, and I left feeling a bit sad but confident about the next steps.  I had a resident in my appointment, which was fantastic because the doc ended up explaining verbally all of his testing and tweaking – which was great for me!  I loved hearing the explanation behind all of the pushing, pulling, and analyzing he did.  Based on my pain, symptoms, and physical exam he came to a swift conclusion that I have runner’s knee.  Yay – no MRI or x-rays needed!  But sad that the pain was real enough to lead to such an obvious diagnosis.

What is Runner’s Knee?

According to trusty Wikipedia, Runner’s Knee is caused by the prolonged repetitive compressive or shearing forces (running or jumping) on the Patellofemoral joint.  The result is the thinning and softening of the cartilage under the patella (hence the pain under my knee cap – makes sense!).  Essentially my kneecap is irritating the groove where my femur is resting.  It is very common, and is found twice as often in women due to wider hips (thanks Ma!).  It’s tough to say exactly what is causing it in my case, but it could be any of the following:

  • Overuse
  • Biomechanical problem – my body just might be more prone to it (something about Q angles?)
  • My quads are weak, specifically the inner quad
  • My hamstrings are tight
  • My gait isn’t aligned appropriately
  • Or a few other things

kneepain

So how do I fix it?

The bad news: no running.  This was to be expected.  I think this is a big reason I’ve been putting off this Dr. visit for so long.  I knew this was going to be the first order of business.  Though he did tell me, “I know you have your races coming up so go ahead and do those.  I’d tell you not to, but I know you wouldn’t listen anyways.”  I laughed and told him he was very correct.  He must be a runner :)

The good news: there is more to the story than just rest and ice.  Obviously rest and ice is the first step, but there are also exercises for strengthening the inner quad muscles.  Additionally I can tape my knee and wear a brace that might provide some support and relief.  The last step: Aleve twice a day for 2 weeks.  That’s a lot more anti-inflammatory medication than I’m used to taking, but he wanted to be aggressive in relieving the inflammation.  I have to admit that it felt pretty good walking out of there with a prescription and Physical Therapy referral, as opposed to just “rest and stop running.”

Hopefully I’ll get my first PT visit scheduled soon and I’ll be on the road to recovery.  I’m still looking forward to my upcoming races, but sad that I’ll have to take a break once they are done.  I’ll be sure to soak up the running happiness and really enjoy them.  Biking and swimming were the recommended replacement activities, but I’m still not sure what my next step will be exercise-wise.  I’m not sure how much this will affect my 2013 Fitness Goals.  Really I’m just trying to process the information.  Let’s see.  Essentially any bending motion irritates it more: so no Plyo, likely no Insanity, lunges, or squats for a few weeks, along with the running.  Sigh.  Should I start thinking more seriously about committing to biking and swimming?  Ugh.  Knees – you can get better!  I believe in you!

I’ll leave you with some old lady advice: take care of your bodies and be sure to stretch and rest appropriately! You don’t want to be sad and benched like me!

-Kelly

How do you handle periods of rest and recovery?  What’s your favorite ‘recovery’ exercise?