The Blame Game

It’s time I admit it and face reality — I’m injured. I have a busted IT band that, in consequence, makes my knee cry in pain. For the past three weeks I’ve felt like if I didn’t actually admit it to myself, it wouldn’t be true. Last night after a few drinks though, I could keep the truth from rushing into my head and pouring out my through my face via tears.

This week, after a 5 day running break, I completed an easy 4mile run on Tuesday with little pain. I was hopeful and excited, but still decided to take it easy for 2 days to be safe. Friday morning I woke up extra early at 6:20am to get in my long run with my running buddy before she left for vacation for a week (which I’m not happy about losing my running buddy for a week). Despite the early hour I actually had a serge of energy when I woke up — I was excited to get back to my long runs AND having a 3-day weekend to relax afterwards. Kristine and I met up with Leticia and it was fun to make a new running friend! The first 7 miles of the run went well with little leg pain, but a bit of tiredness. It’s amazing how one week 20 miles can feel fairly easy and 4 weeks later, anything over 4 miles brings exhaustion. Mid way through mile 7 to 8, though, the knee pain starting to kick in. The last 4 miles of my 12 mile run were painful. I highlighted the word painful, because I don’t use that word mildly. I can take a lot of pain — years of dancing and my running ventures have taught me that about myself. If it wasn’t for having some amazing company with me, there’s a chance I wouldn’t have finished the run. Luckily my running buddies were kind enough to slow down and hold back with me a bit, though. Feeling like I was pounding on a broken knee every time I touched down my right leg for 4 miles, I somehow finished 12 miles. When I got home I foam rolled like hell and iced. Luckily I was working from home and didn’t have to commute anywhere because walking did not seem feasible.

Later Friday afternoon I wobbled my way 1 mile to Physical Therapy. To put icing on the cake, the elevator was out so I got to walk up 3 flights of stairs in pain (note: IT band syndrom does not like steps). Voicing my extreme pain to my PT, she used a new technique using a hard plastic tool to massage out my leg muscles. She warned me that it would be painful and would cause bruising. To be honest, it wasn’t as painful as I was expecting (maybe years of pain have made me immune?), but I did end up with a beautiful line of bruising along my IT band.

After PT I headed back towards Murray Hill to meet my boyfriend for happy hour. We ended up at The Croocked Knife. I was craving fries and beer, so those were my only requirements. We were having a fun time, but after 2 belgium (i.e. strong) beers, french fries and a portobello salad (what can I say, I OCD with needing veggies) I was basically drunk. On our walk home my knee was still seriously hurting me and that’s when I started to get emotional and whiny. I was a little shocked with myself because I’m always whiny, but I’m not usually an emotional drunk (or at least in a negative way). By the time we got home I was in pain, tired and annoyed. I started to bawl. Tears started pouring out. All that was going through my mind was how stupid I was to have injured myself; how I was not in complete control of getting better because the “cure” requires lack of action where as I like to be able to DO something about things; and then the obvious freak out that I am supposed to run a marathon in Paris in 2 months, while 12 miles leaves me in severe pain. It honestly felt good to cry and just get everything out, I needed that badly. Eventually my tears miraculously stop — I guess a bit of rationalism kicked in and I realized freaking out was not going to help my problem.

My tear feast, despite ugly, was necessary. While I was crying I kept saying how it was my fault that I was injured, which got me thinking — am I to blame? Sure, part of me says yes. It’s an overuse injury that I have and I’m the only one who brought on “overuse.” However, rationally thinking it out today (sober!), I don’t blame myself. I was doing everything I was supposed to. I was doing yoga once a week, I had finally started to re-incorporate strength training into my routine, I was cross training and I never increased my weekly mileage over 10%. Sure I was pushing myself, but I will never feel bad about giving it my all; they day I stop trying is the day I lose who I am.

At the end of the day, sh*t happens. I am injured. It is what it is. The only thing I can do is try my hardest to get better and I’m doing just that. I’ve been going to PT twice a week, have drastically cut back my mileage/# of days running, completely cut out cardio cross-training (biking hurst the same as running) and dedicated time everyday to doing my PT strengthening exercises and stretching. I’m also headed to Dr. Levine on Monday to try out A.R.T on the recommendation of Kelly.

All the support via twitter and my blog has been beyond helpful and encouraging — so THANK YOU!!!! Megan’s story of how she ran the Philly Marathon without running for a month before the race due to an IT band injury, does give me hope.

At the end of the day, this is the conclusion I’ve come to — I’m going to try my damnedest to get better and keep up my fitness as much as possible; come April 15th I’m going to make it to the starting line of the Paris Marathon with a smile on my face and hope in my heart; I’m going to try my best to cross the finish line. BUT at the end of the day, running is not (or should not be) my life. I’m fortunate for so many other things in my life — an amazing boyfriend, wonderful friends, the most supportive and loving family in the world, health and a good job/career (OH and I live in the best city on earth). If I don’t finish the Paris Marathon, it’s not the end of the world, but I will not give up. 2012 is my year and a marathon finish is in it 🙂

QUESTIONS: Any recommendations of recovery techniques??? I’ll seriously try anything. Have you ever overcome an injury or been set back? Tell me about your running adventures — good or bad!

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3 Responses to The Blame Game

  1. Ros says:

    Hi Katherine! This is @spa-remedial (Ros – friend of Helen) and have looked through a few of your Blog posts to get a good idea of where you are at. I have really picked out a couple of key things which alarm me slightly and may not be helping your condition…bear with me as I really hope I can give you some good advice as I have competed in a lot of half marathons and marathons and I have also been through tendinitis injury and ITBS(!) Right… you have a background in dancing? This probably means you have above average flexibility? This is not something endurance athletes normally have – in fact slightly less flexible is the norm. This shouldn’t concern you but I would just be aware that your stretching routine should be focussed on recovering the muscles but no over-exuberance needed here. I would focus MORE on the strengthening – particularly on the CORE as you need to be using this more so. Regular exercises such as squats, planks, leg-raises and lunges are all good :o). Right secondly… you NUTTER having a massage the same evening as your long run when you were in serious pain. You already know the RICE principle – but any responsible physical therapist should have advised REST and icing – and not used any ‘bruising’ action on a muscle which was already swollen. (I am actually quite shocked about that). Rest is good – but do the core work on these days…also try a small recovery run before attempting a long run… I wouldn’t go straight into a long run after several days off …you want to ‘suck it and see’… used a 4-5 mile SLOW run before you do your long run. I was interested to read on a previous blog that you completed a 20 miler on a treadmill….and then you had some problems? I would not have done this – probably just done some cross-training instead but the treadmill is a very different running technique to outdoor running …I wouldn’t complete a long run this way (did you change your shoes out of interest?) Also on the shoe front – how old are your trainers? I am suspecting your gait may have changed and with the ITB this normally accompanies a pronation… so I would urge you to get some advice on your footwear if you haven’t already. You may need some orthotics – this could really help the knee(!) I would also try compression tights (Skins) or compression socks. And just one other thing – who you are running with. Be aware of your marathon pace… I am assuming you are pacing your long runs with a marathon pace in mind…if you are running with others this normally means someone is getting a harder deal. Some will be running slightly faster – some slightly slower. My best training – esp. when getting through injury…if the race is important I’m afraid its best to go it alone to get your pacing strategy right. OK finally – are you fuelling on your long runs (gels/water) – and when you complete the long runs are you having a recovery drink (replacing lost salts)… just another thing to stay on top of. I really hope I haven’t scared you but just given you some things to think about. Just slow down a bit – take care of a few things and you will be absolutely fine :o)

  2. I will be keeping my figures crossed for you! It’s hard to stay positive during injury glad to see you are trying to. I have a similar IT Band/Knee issue. Its the injury I had last summer, and although I’ve been running less it is currently giving me problems again. The best thing I did for it was hip strengthening exercises, lots of yoga and stretching, and foam rolling the shit out of my IT band. Hope to you see you soon.

  3. Jayme says:

    I’ll be rooting for you out there on the Paris Marathon course!! The only thing that counts = have a good time. I tell myself that my goal is to finish smiling (a painful smile, I’m sure, but just happy to have accomplished the 42.2!)

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