Ok, first things first. Runners are doctors. No joke. Your legs hurt? Probably shin splints. Knee ache? You got runner’s knee, bro. Bottom of the heel? Plantar fasciitis. Boom.
In all seriousness, just because you used the Runner’s World “touch where it hurts app”, it’s probably a good idea when pain lingers longer than a week or so to get checked out by a doctor or sports therapy/rehab specialist. Especially if the pain hasn’t gone away even after you take time off from running . A few years ago, I probably should have followed my own advice. But like Alanis so wisely sang, “you live, you learn.”
During the 2011 Chicago Marathon, my one and only marathon, I had a hard time training due to knee pain. My lone, long run ended at 15 miles, 2 weeks out from the big day. That’s right, the farthest i’d go before attempting the 26.2 mile race was 15 miles. If that’s not daunting, I assumed my knee pain was an overuse injury, like Runner’s Knee, and also assumed i’d be fine since I would be running less during my taper. I assume now that I was an idiot then.
Fast forward to the race and neglect of my pained knee– I was on pace, comfortable might I add, to break 4 hours. Then the knee pain decided to make it’s appearance at Mile 15. Needless to say, because the picture below says it all, the knee pain sucked, my calf cramped, i did a LOT of walking and did not break 4 hours. 4:28:28. Everyone told me it was a great time for my first go around, but I knew i had a shitty race, I didn’t fuel properly and I was injured. bleh…just bleh.
That was October 2011. I waited (was in denial) until January 2013 and finally found a Chiropractor that specialized in Sports Injuries. He adjusted me, the knee pain would disappear, but would return almost every 6 weeks like clockwork. Finally he suggested we do a more aggressive therapy 2-3x per week and see if we could fix the problem permanently. Turns out I had the World’s Tightest Hip Flexor. I’d like to thank my 6 years sitting at a desk job for that one. It was so tight it literally took the right side of my hip, pulled it down, tilted it forward and caused my knee to turn inward, putting excess stress on my knee. I also had a huge muscle imbalances in both my hip/knees and extremely tight quad muscles and IT band.
After the sports therapy and doing more squats, dead lifts and lunges & stretching than I care to recall, I’m all better. 100% better. It took about 2 months of therapy & strength training, and about a month of running on sore leg muscles while correcting form before i started feeling like i had two capable legs again.
Why didn’t i go to a traditional general practitioner? Because I knew nothing was broke, tore, fractured or sprained and didn’t feel like paying for x-rays or an mri and having them prescribe me pain meds, so I started with the physical therapy aspect first.
Fun Fact- Because i knew my race was a total bust I shot gunned a beer at mile 21 from a man who looked like Santa Clause holding a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon, he was encouraging it and I needed the carbs. I also have a very difficult time turning down a free beer.
Anyone ever have something strange like this ^ happen during a race??