(My poor, lonely, running shoes which will be here doing nothing for at least the next week.)
This was the scene a couple of weekends ago on Saturday morning: Matt got up and returned from the freezer with three ice packs—one for his knee and one for my knee and ankle. And we laid, splayed out in bed numbing all our joints, feeling less young and laughing at ourselves.
Since I ran the Ragnar Relay in May my right knee hasn’t felt right. I can feel my IT band (a tendon that runs on the outside of the leg from the muscles of the hip to the knee) rubbing up against my knee. I knew it wasn’t right, but I also knew I wasn’t in agony. And this time of year is the best for running. (Note: I would say the same thing in the fall.) So I went with my running mates out on a 10-mile run. With three miles left, I ran through considerable pain in my IT band, low by my knee. The whole time I kept thinking about how I tell my clients to listen to their bodies. I was deliberately ignoring mine because 1) I wanted to be running and 2) I was embarrassed. (I’m the youngest person in my runners group and one of the slower runners.)
I suffered the rest of the day, walking around like an old man who hobbles from side to side instead of swinging his legs forward. Stairs were a disaster. I met some of the Personal Euphoria instructors for a meeting and after sitting for two hours I stood up with a twinge. Again, being embarrassed, I tried to walk normally, but couldn’t. I guess icing a sore body part all day doesn’t make up for taking advantage of it earlier. My IT band was like a woman scorned and it wasn’t going to let me forget.
The next day I felt fine so I kept running. I only run about three days a week and I convinced myself that was plenty of rest. On every run there would be a moment where my knee bothered me, but I’d run through and it would work itself out. In my gut I knew my knee wasn’t right. It would randomly feel tender along the side and in the back.
So the next week when it was time to run 10 miles again, I was tentative, but I went for it. 8.2 miles in I had to stop. Embarrassed but knowing it was the right decision. This time I got a shooting pain inside my knee. Do you know what I did? I kept running for about 45 seconds to see if it would pass. The pain passed, but I could tell my knee wasn’t right. And I had the thought, I can run through one mile like this, but not two. The two women I was running with had to run back and come pick me up. I felt like a loser. Sadly, if it had just been IT pain again, I don’t think I would have stopped.
I teach fitness for a living. I should be in better shape and should be able to handle this. That’s a pressure I put on myself. But in reality, I haven’t been doing the exercises that I know are beneficial for my body post run. I should be frustrated at myself for that, not for my body for embarrassing me.
I don’t want to run until I’m so injured that I can’t run, but I hate to miss out on my regular runs too. Ice, massage and getting in the pool have been a regular part of my routine. They usually are, but I’m making them a bit more regular.
I wish I could say I finally wised up and made the right decision because I knew it was the right thing for my body. But I really did it because of you. I heard my own voice in my head telling all my clients not to push through bad pain. “It’s not worth it.” I always say that. And I know I’m right. If I hurt myself to the point where I have to take a couple months off, it won’t be worth it. If I’m going to ask my body to perform tasks like running 10-miles, I really have to put in the maintenance it takes to keep my body ready to do that.
I can’t slack off if I don’t want my body to. So I’m taking a week off of running. Hopefully that will give my knee some rest before I do any real, permanent, serious damage.