I had not had a running injury in 10 years when I faced up to the fact that I had runner’s knee. That’s a pretty good track record, right? When I started running in 1997, I soon was running almost every day and racing every weekend in Central Park; the New York Road Runners held races almost every weekend. I was addicted to getting faster. Within a year, I’d cut my 5K time from 33 minutes to 21 minutes.
I signed up for my first marathon in 1999, The New York City Marathon. I was injured the July before it (I can’t even remember what that injury was). This hit immediately after I ran the Bronx Half Marathon and a Central Park weekday 10K within days of each other. I was not running again until late September, but I managed to pull my first marathon out of my you-know-what in 3:44 and some seconds. Is this the beauty of being 28? But I didn’t finish my next marathon the following year. Then I developed stress fractures in 2001. Oh, I was so, so angry and frustrated. But I healed and have run many races and three marathons since.
I now run a “mere” four days a week for total mileage of 25-30 miles. (I’m a distance woman.) I love every run, and I cross and strength train on the three other days. I believe this varied routine has staved off any injuries by keeping everything in balance.
But in December, less than six weeks after the Marine Corps Marathon, my knee started bothering me. I probably had not rested long enough post-marathon. Typical. First, my knee didn’t bother me during runs, but then I’d limp downstairs. After two weeks, I tried taking a week off. But then I limped through my next (very short) run. Damn. So, I took another week off. By “off,” I mean no running. I sat on my road bike hooked up to a spinning week for 60-120 minutes four times a week instead. This was actually a good deal with all the snow and subsequent icing we've been dealing with in the DC area.
I did get cranky. I worried about all the spring races I have coming up. I’d hate to miss them. I saw my podiatrist to replace my 10-year-old orthotics. I started running, but walked every downhill. I built back up to an eight mile long run with little walking. I tried to pay attention to whether I was limping or not, but you know how that is; I can convince myself of anything if I want it badly enough.
When my knee bothered me more during a run last week, I couldn't gloss it over. So, again, I took time off, but just three days. I looked at my calendar and realized the National Half Marathon was only three weeks away. Damn and a half. I decided to try for whatever distance I could over the weekend. I know I am a fool, but this time it worked, so far. I ran 12 miles with no pain and no walking. Maybe it was the new and now broken-in orthotics. Or a miracle.
I’ll keep paying attention to my knee, but I feel like I’m coming out of the tunnel of injury. And I feel like spring is coming.