Pain Is Not an Option

13 Dec - Best of luck finishing a marathon that doesn't involve episodes of Law & Order

How I felt when my knee tightened up.

I am not a teenager anymore. My body doesn’t heal like it used to. But when the one exercise I enjoy doing was taken from me, I was pissed.

I’ve been running since I began my weight-loss journey over five years ago. As I’ve said before on this blog, it appealed to my frugal nature. Plus it was something I could do that I didn’t have to learn. You run as a kid, you walk as an adult. There wasn’t much to it but to do it.

Eventually got pretty good at it. My speed increased every few months. My stamina increased with each extra half mile. My endurance was great; I could hang for a well over an hour of flat-out running.

Then somewhere along the way I started to feel tightness below my left knee. It didn’t worry me much because I could continue on my trek at the same speed. Then I started to slow down. Eventually I had to come to a stop and limp my way back home.

Who was this person I’d become? The open air of the trail, the people watching, the feeling of freedom that came with having the wind at my back all came to a halt. Now I was conking out after about two miles, eventually conking out at one. My pride hurt more than the physical pain of not being able to complete my journey anymore.

There’s almost a sense of invincibility that comes with running. Once you’ve hit your stride, you go on auto-pilot. Now my auto-pilot was malfunctioning.

I consulted my general practitioner, and she suggested changing my shoes. I can’t stress this enough: you have to replace your shoes! Just like the tires on your car, your running shoes are not meant to last forever. Your feet and legs are your mode of transportation. You can’t get very far without them. They must be cared for.

I ordered new sneakers which helped for a few months. But the pain returned, and with it my sense of defeat. I really thought it was over for me as a runner. Any dreams I had of completing a marathon were kaput. If I can’t get through mile three without conking out, what good am I on a 26.2-mile course?

On another visit to my doc, she followed up on my knee. I told her I hadn’t been out in months because of the pain. A runner herself, she wouldn’t stand for my defeatist attitude. “We’ve got to get you back out running,” she said. She referred me to a sports medicine doctor who, she said, consulted professional athletes. After doing an x-ray, he said there was no joint or ligament damage. It was something I’d have to work through in physical therapy, which was a relief.

My therapist first had me walk down the corridor and then run for about two minutes on the treadmill. He pulled me off after about 30 seconds having identified the problem whip-fast. As a woman, especially one with “child-bearing hips,” my body isn’t designed for long runs. What happens is my hips get out of whack and my knees and ankles pick up the slack, causing pressure on my IT band. The best way to remedy this would be weeks of therapy to strengthen my hips.

Here’s a few things I learned:


Lunge stretch

Hip hikes

Side leg raises

I knew I lacked a lot of physical strength because of my focus on cardio as exercise. I’ve neglected the strengthening aspect because cardio is a faster way to lose weight, which was my goal. But being forced to sit out running made me realize that I need to be more well-rounded by incorporating strength training. It’s not enough to be smaller if I can’t move my body.

After a couple of months, I was able to do three, then four and eventually seven miles. I have to do these stretches, which take about 15 minutes, at least three times a week to keep the strength up in my hips. I’m okay with that, because I love running. It’s what I do to make me happy

What do you do to keep up your strength? And how do you deal with injury when it keeps you from doing something you love?

10 Responses to “Pain Is Not an Option”

  1. Rosey Dee December 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    That’s great that you can run so many miles! Keep it up!

  2. Wilfred dyson December 13, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    U didn’t tell me about that but I’m glad it worked


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