I have a knack for getting injured doing the most boring, mundane tasks in life. First it was my back (bulging disc while making the bed) in October 2015. Most recently it was another critical to running body part: my knee.
The day after the Philadelphia Marathon (November, 2016), I was at my in-law’s house, wrapping Christmas presents. Yes, I was wrapping Christmas presents. I was kneeling on the floor, and when I went to stand up, I must have pushed my knee into the ground in such a way as to cause a shooting pain on the inside of my right knee cap. I yelled for my husband, who was on the main level (I was in the basement of the house), and slowly made my way up the stairs, grimacing every step where my weight was fully put on my right leg. He didn’t realize it actually was something (something really painful), saying it was probably just a little something that would go away soon. I still had him get an ice pack and put it on my knee to help ensure any swelling was kept to a minimum. I didn’t agree with him; I knew it was something bigger.
Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Luckily, my plan called for rest after running two marathons in an eight-day stretch, so I was able to stop running without feeling guilty. My knee seemed to hurt when I was going up and down stairs (when the full weight of my body was on my bent knee), but walking, jogging and other activity didn’t bother it. I did try a short two-mile run to test things out while there, and when I returned home after the Thanksgiving holiday, I ran a couple times (including the Cayman Islands Half Marathon) with little issue.
Except the pain was still there when I put my weight on the bent knee.
The day after my final race of 2016, I headed to the orthopedist for a consultation. He checked things out, and his opinion was that some soft tissue under/around my kneecap got pinched and was inflamed. He told me to stop running (gasp!) and go straight to physio for 4-6 weeks. If that didn’t work, his next recommendation was going to be PRP injections, but he didn’t think it would come to that.
I went home and cried. A lot. I wasn’t sure if the doctor was right, I wasn’t sure that this plan to wait was the right one. I worried about losing my fitness that I had worked so hard to achieve. There was deep concern in my mind about losing the motivation for training for marathons – now that I had registered for so many of them in 2017. And to top it off, I was in the middle of getting ready for the Bermuda Marathon on January 15th, and this was most definitely NOT in the plan. I was sad that I might not be able to run this race, and that all my spring marathon plans were flushed down the toilet with the simple act of me trying to stand up after wrapping Christmas presents. It was a devastating evening in my world.
The next morning, I went to see my physio, Beth, and she gave me some strengthening exercises to help my glutes and the muscles around the knee get stronger, as well as giving me the green light to cycle or swim to maintain my cardio. She knew I was training for Bermuda, and promised she would do what she could to get me sorted. Through sessions with her, which included the strengthening work, ultrasound, massage and other tricks of the trade, I was finally given the green light this past week to start running/walking SLOWLY for a short period of time.
Then I got sick and had no desire to run. Ce la vie! If it’s not one thing it’s another. I did end up running a mile on my first day that I could run, and I was so drained at the end of it. I then took two days off to rest and feel better. Two days where I literally laid on the couch and did little else. Then Monday, I tried a short run of four miles (which was not really what I was meant to do). I did the same on Tuesday. And I sniffled and coughed the whole time, feeling as if I was dying. Ugh! These short runs and I felt this bad? How would I ever get back to feeling like I could run 26.2 in a few weeks?
Recognizing that I was still just SICK and that no, my fitness level had not plummeted that much from my brief hiatus from running, I took Wednesday off to allow my body to rest a little bit longer. Amazingly this little plan worked, and I hit the gym today to run six miles as my goal – and it felt like normal! Providing my knee holds up, which it should, and I can get a couple 15-16 mile runs in before Bermuda, I should be fine. Physically and mentally. It won’t be my fastest marathon, and that is OK. I’ll just be happy to be out there running.
Because I have been prohibited from running, and to be blunt, it sucked. But as painful, difficult and frustrating as it was to not run for a few weeks, if I hadn’t taken that time off to allow things to settle down, I might have been forced to take even more time off down the road to allow a more serious issue to be resolved.
Lesson definitely learned: go to the doctor as quickly as possible with any issues and LISTEN to them as they prescribe treatment. Get a second opinion if you are not sure.
And most importantly, no more wrapping Christmas presents for me! The risk of injury is just too high…
Have you had an injury where you have been sidelined from running? How did you cope? How long were you out? What was your biggest concern with taking time off?