Tuesday, January 29, 2013

There Goes My Knee

The rumor among non-runners is that running is bad for your knees. Well, it's only bad for your knees if you don't take necessary precautions. Like strength training. Or increasing mileage safely.  Or wearing the right/fresh shoes. Or running on the right surfaces. But it's just like any other part of your body. Take care of it and it will take care of you. This is true of any exercise, sport, or activity.

So here's the story with my knee. I went for a run Sunday, and the pain in my knee was so bad I had to turn around and walk the rest of the way back. UGH! I was super mad. But I did some reading on runner's knee and it turns out that I am experiencing this pain for two reasons: I amped up my mileage too fast (duh, I have a half to train for!) and my quads are under developed/my hamstrings are too tight. The latter causes your knee cap to veer off course, and since our muscles compensate for us while we use them I had no clue this was a problem until it became pretty painful. Darn my super smart muscles!

What am I do to?

1. Strength train. I've already started incorporating some simple exercises to help my quads. 

2. Stretch more. Or really I should stretch more effectively. I do stretch after all runs, but obviously not frequently enough or well enough. This is why yoga is often recommended for runners. We're notorious for having super tight legs. 

3. Get a knee strap so I can keep running. This is what I'm referring to if you don't know what I mean. You've probably seen them on other runners before. Please note I don't advocate any particular brand. 

In the meantime, I've been taking it easy and icing/taking anti-inflammatories when needed. The ice is super awesome but pretty inconvenient while at work. This means I've pretty much experienced all running injuries except black toes. EW! Knock on wood! =)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And We're Off!!

Getting back into the habit of training has always been a bit hard. I believe it takes around 21 successful consecutive occurrences to make something a new habit, so it's no wonder many people fail at establishing new good habits like working out (failed resolutions anyone?). So Monday meant that I just kicked my own butt. I ran 5 miles (ran 4, walked a quarter, then ran the rest). How did it go? Not bad! Let me go over the details....

I kept it slow. Like tortoise slow at around a 13 minute mile. The key was to stay steady since pacing is so hard this early in the game. What caused me to walk that small bit was my knee. My right knee got achy and forced me to stop at mile four. It was a little concerning since my knees never gave me problems in the past. I've had all kinds of other running-related aches and pains mostly from my own stupidity, but my knees always escaped that fate. I limped the rest of the day, so I was very concerned. Many Aleve and a little rest over night and....

Mostly better! The plan for today was to run two miles then strength train, but I nixed the strength training. My heart needs the workout, two miles is not too much, and I can do strength training later this week. The run went pretty well. At first the knee was a little achy but not too bad. As I warmed up, it got much better. Now that the run is over it gives no trouble at all. Phew!! I'm sure most of you can sympathize - as runners we are very attuned to our bodies and the slightest hint of something wrong can make us very concerned. 

On a separate note about my run, I wore my new running capris. They're the CW-X brand, and I happened to get a couple pairs on Amazon for cheap (cheap for this brand anyway). I can't say how much I really liked them. They're super compressiony (yes I made that up) and don't move at all as you run. The only downside (and it may have caused some of my knee problem) is that I'm short in the legs so the knee on the pants didn't align perfectly with my knees. Perhaps the compression put just enough pressure on my knee in the wrong way that it cause some pain? I don't know. I'll have to try them out again, but I won't take them on another long run until I figure it out. I'll see if I can pull them up at the thigh to keep the knee area aligned correctly. 

So that's about it - it feels great to be back in training mode, even if it's still not as consistent as I'd like it to be. Baby steps!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Starting over....again

After some hard thought the night before the Hot Chocolate 15k I decided to skip the race. I got most of my race swag at the expo (obviously not the finishers mug) so I still got the nice sweatshirt. The reason I bowed out was because I just wasn't ready to run the distance. There is still plenty of time to train for the Publix half in March so don't expect any surprises there.

So what led me to this state? There are a couple reasons.

1. I just didn't maintain any decent mileage after the half in October. It's my fault. It always amazes me how quickly I lose fitness. It shouldn't but it does.

2. I always struggle with the late fall months. For some reason I can't seem to get the motivation to run. There isn't much I can do about it now except try to avoid the same mistake next year. Oh well.

So hopefully things will improve. We can't get better if we don't fail on occasion. My philosophy is it's not about the failure itself but how you move on from it. Here's to not repeating past mistakes.