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.

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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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Who Runs the World?

Apparently I do.  Or, at least that’s my plan for parts of it.  Ever since last year’s “Oh, I should run a 5k before I turn 30” stroke of genius, I have really begun to like running.  Love it, in fact.  I have even started calling myself a runner.  I have a subscription to a running magazine.  Who am I?

I was perfectly content with sticking with 5ks and 10ks as challenges, but then I discovered a little nugget:  The Disney Princess Half Marathon.  It encompasses many things I love:  Disney, theme parks, castles, princesses, running, and goal setting.  It’s a half marathon run through and between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World (that’s the one in Florida, for those of you who mix it up like I used to), and you get to RUN THROUGH THE CASTLE!  YES!  Now, clearly this is going to be a challenge.  A half MARATHON?  Good Lord, what is going through my head?  I just mastered the 3.1 mile run, so why not add on another 10?  Sounds like a solid plan!  Oh my gosh.

Now, I have a few secret weapons in my back pocket, the first being B’s Aunt M.  Aunt M has run this race before, and she was supposed to this year before she ended up injuring her ankle.  I texted her after hearing about the race, and she got back to me immediately, writing nothing but encouragement and “Yes!  Doooo iiiittttt!”  (She, of course, is much too classy to use so many extended letters, but that’s what it sounded like in my head, so I took liberties to translate it for all of you.)  Unknowingly, I was then signing on for doing it (I was still in the decision process), and promptly received a “Let the training begin!” package in the mail, filled with a princess crown sparkly tattoo and a running magazine.  Aunt M then excitedly told everyone we knew that we were going to run the race together – including my parents, who didn’t have a clue that I was even thinking about running a half.  Have I mentioned how adorable Aunt M is with her excitement?  Love her!  Her encouragement has really helped with my confidence about being able to training and get through it.  If she thinks I can, why can’t I think I can?

I also am the most ridiculously stubborn person I know, aside from my immediate family members (hey, I have to get it from somewhere… and this is all genetic).  When I set a goal in my head, I have to do it.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  This has actually caused a few issues (more posting on that later), but I jumped onto the training wagon with fervor.  I have had to take some downtime for the past two weeks, and it has killed me.  I have dreamed about running.  I have daydreamed about running.  I have tried it when I possibly shouldn’t have.  (Hint – I have a doctor’s appointment set up for the coming week… you do the math.)  I am going to do this.  I must.  I set the goal, and it WILL happen.  I’m scheduled to do my first 10k on the Best Coast during the summer, so I am stepping up my distance in races as the half gets closer.

So as I go along on my training regiment, I’ll share my experiences with you.  First up, what it is like to deal with Runner’s Knee.  I’ll tell you what, it’s not fun.  It downright sucks.  Just ask B.  No, he doesn’t have it, but he has a noisy wife who has it, and he has suffered plenty through all of my caterwauling.

Do you like to run?  Any tips for a new one?