Pain Isn’t Always Gain

In my quest to run a 10k in July and the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February, I hit the training pretty hard.  I have never been a “runner.”  I hated running growing up (when you have larger body parts, you avoid movements that, um, showcase them), and it was always hard for me to breathe comfortably.  Beyond field hockey and tennis, I avoided it like a snail avoids salt.  But now that I have fallen in love with running, I wanted to make the most of my time and effort.  I combined my efforts for running with my efforts for weight loss and RAN, as in “I’m going to see how far I can go… oh look at that, I just ran more than I have ever gone.”  My longest run three weeks in was 6.2 miles.  For me, that’s a lot.  I was ecstatic!  I ran a 10k!  Where is my medal?

It turns out, and I’m sure all of the pro running people are shaking their heads at me because they know, you aren’t supposed to up your weekly mileage that quickly.  That week I ran 6.2 as my long run?  Yeah… I ran 22 miles that week.  Oops.  But I was feeling great!  No big deal!  I’m young!  The next week, though, my body told me it was displeased in a major way.  My right knee began to hurt.  It didn’t hurt when I didn’t run, so I figured it was something I could just get through.  No pain, no gain, right? 

Wrong.  It got worse.  I couldn’t run at all, and it began to creep into my standing time when I was teaching.  My doctor’s office couldn’t make an appointment for me at a convenient time for another week and a half, so I scaled back a little.  I tried doing shorter runs.  Nope.  I tried doing the elliptical.  No ma’am.  I tried a knee brace.  No way.  I tried a stationery bike.  Try again later.  I tried getting my cardio in with Jillian Michaels’s videos, and let’s just say it ended up with me on my yoga mat, tears running into my ears, begging B to tell me why three hundred pound people on “The Biggest Loser” could run and I could barely do a butt kick.  Poor guy, he’s a trooper.

My primary physician saw me for about ten minutes, moved my knee around, and told me it was patellofemoral pain.  It could be tendonitis, it could be swelling, blah blah blah.  Here’s a referral to physical therapy.  I picked a physical therapy office in the same medical building and called the next day, expecting to see them in a week or two.  After all, it had taken just my basic physician a week and a half to see me after 2:00 PM.  Bless them, the physical therapists took me in the next day. 

Can I just tell you how magical physical therapists are?  I met with my PT Rich and an intern from a local PT program, and they listened to everything I had to say.  When my pain was hard to describe, they were patient and took it all in.  They really looked at what the causes could be, and they didn’t tell me to just rest and take some Advil with every meal. 

Two of the best things they showed me were my daily stretches.  If you experience tight hips or knee pain, gently try these out.  I thought they wouldn’t do anything for me because I was already doing them, but the longer you hold them (note:  not just to the count of ten!), the better you will stretch everything out.

Image    Image

I also found this super helpful, quick yoga video on YouTube from Rodney Yee.  He’s the yogi.

I have been going to PT for about three weeks now, and my knee is about 90 percent of the way there.  I had always read articles in running magazines on how pain is temporary and your brain will try to talk you into not fighting through it.  If you know something hurts, get it checked.  There isn’t any way I could have fought through this, and while it sucks that I now have to train myself all over again, I can do it better this time. 

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