Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WDW Half Marathon Training: Week Six - Knee Pain

This has been kind of a tough week.  I have felt quite sore all week long, and to top if up I have been having some sinus/cold issues.  This week's schedule was pretty much like last's except for the six mile long run.  

Perhaps you have noticed in some of my race pictures that I wear knee sleeves, so this is a bit of a back story on what is up with my knees.  Early this year, after working out consistently for about five months, I increased my walking and soon developed some pain in my knees.  I cut back on the walking, but continued to attend my Body Tone group fitness class.  I couldn't seem to do all the squats and lunges as well as I used to, and my knees were sore after class.  I didn't want to stop working out, because I really enjoyed it and I feared that my weight loss would slow.  I decided to take a week off and see how I felt after.  My knees felt better so I went back to the fitness class and picked up my walking routine again.  Unfortunately the pain in my knees came up again.  The fitness instructor noticed the week I was missing and asked what was up.  I explained my knee pain to her and she suggested a few step exercises that could help, so I tried them.  I cut back on my walks and did modified versions of the moves in class.  The pain subsided a little, but I was just so confused as to why I had sore knees at 22 years old!  I was finally getting healthy, exercising, and losing weight, it just didn't make sense to me.  I feared that I would just have to live with the knee pain. 

I finally decided to go to the doctor and he suggested I get a knee sleeve and try some strengthening moves.  He told me that I had patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner's knee.  This is when the kneecap (patella) is mistracking, which then irritates the surrounding bones and cartilage.  In my case it was probably caused by overuse, or doing too much, too fast, and weak thigh muscles.  My outer thighs muscles are pretty strong, but it was the inner ones that needed to be strengthened.  So I got some knee sleeves, which definitely helped with the pain, and kind of did the strengthening moves every once in a while (not as often as I should have).  The pain had decreased, but my knees were still achey probably because I was not really working on my thigh muscles.  I tried a water fitness class so there would not be as much pressure on my knee, and it ended up being pretty good.  

After graduation I discovered the healthy living blog community and found a post about knee pain on Caitlin's blog, Healthy Tipping Point.  The pain she described sounded very similar to mine.  In this post she shared lots of wonderful information that has helped me.  I had the knee sleeves part down, but she demonstrated more strengthening moves, besides the one my doctor told me, and recommended icing your knees after every run.  I began to ice my knees and do the exercises and the pain pretty much disappeared!  (If you have similar pain, you should of course visit your doctor!) Icing my knees after a workout really helps and the exercises have been beneficial too.  As long as I wear my knee sleeves I am good!  

Monday's run was tough.  My body felt quite sore and the run seemed hard.  Also in the last 15 minutes or so my right knee began to feel sore.  No good.  I have been thinking about why they would all of sudden begin to hurt again after months of no pain.  I have narrowed down to three things: my increase in milage because of training, my knee sleeves are old (like 10 months, they are the first ones I bought), and/or I have not been as consistent with the strengthening exercises.  I think all three reasons make sense as to why the pain is back.  I don't want to stop training because the pain isn't that bad and I really enjoy training, so I am going to see if I can fix the other two to ease the pain.  My sleeves are pretty stretched out and probably aren't supporting my knee as well as they could.  I am also going to make sure I do my strengthening exercises more often.  In the meantime I am trying not to push myself too hard by running at a slow, steady pace and making sure my cross training activities are not too strenuous on the knees.

Cross training for Tuesday was the wonderful Multi-Tasking Workout (courtesy of Your Nutritionista).  I seriously love this workout!  I switched up the moves this week, by doing a few of them for two minutes and I even added an 18lb body bar into the routine.  Thursday I was still a little sore, but not as bad as Monday.  All my runs this week have been run 3:15/ walk 1:45, which has been good.  For Friday's cross training I went on nice bike ride around the neighborhood.  It was nice and cool outside which made for lovely biking weather.  

For the long run I completed my first 10K race!  The recap is here.  It felt really good and luckily my knees were OK.  There was a twinge of pain in my right knee a couple of times, but it faded quickly and they felt fine after.  

This coming week the training plan switches things up a bit.  I will be changing my run/walk times to 3 mins/ 1 min, plus I have a 7 mile run next Saturday!

Have you had any aches or pains when running?  What do you do about it?


Nichole said...

I hate hearing about any pain, NO fun! Definitely take it easy and don't push it, but I know it's easier said that done. I really try to ensure I am dong low impact if I know I am not 100%.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cate.

I stumbled across your blog during my google search of "knee pains after a half marathon". Your blog pretty much describes what I'm going through, except that I just ran my first half marathon yesterday (12-6-10).

I'm going to look into the braces and strengthening exercises to see if it helps me. I have more races coming up and don't want to go through this pain again.

Cate said...

Hello there
Congrats on your half marathon, how exciting!
I am sorry to hear about your knee pain, I know it stinks. The strengthening exercises and taking it easy really helped me out. You can also check out the Runner's World website for good information too. If it gets worse it is always best to see a doctor though.
I am not an expert or anything, but if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me! :)
good luck on your next race!

Diana @ VeggieNextDoor said...

I had a really bad case of Runner's Knee a few years back. I had a severe muscle imbalance (very weak inner thighs) that was causing my muscles to tug on my knee cap. I tried physical therapy, custom orthotics, knee braces, icing, etc but nothing seemed to fix it. Finally I did a 3x a week Bootcamp Fitness program with hundreds of lunges and squats. Although I couldn't squat very low at the start of the program, after a few months, my knees were back in top shape.

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