“Runner have to understand that they won’t be fat by Thursday and or lose their fitness by Sunday”
~Janet Hamilton, exercise physiologist
Pain. Pain is what rest means to me. So, I went for my long run on Sunday (not that long… it’s only been a while) and loved it. I really wanted to continue, but decided not to. Came back feeling great, actually stretched properly (with my personal-trainer-certified husband guiding me no less) and ate some lunch. Then, up kicked the old knee pain. I blame my running schedule, which several people mentioned might be too much, but I stuck to because I downloaded it from a reputable source.
Knee pain has kicked up before, I have had custom orthonics made, scans, doctor visits, osteopath visits, painkillers, anti-inflammatory and so on. It has always defeated me, and my running, in the end.
Why? Because when I start to run again, things normally go like this:
-Start couch to 5K. Take it slowly (sometimes completing the 3 month program in 6 months).
-Mostly dislike the program, but stick with it, skipping the odd workout and adding in a few others (kickboxing, weights, boxing… whatever).
-Get to the end, run 5K. Love it.
-Get the bug.
-Scream ‘I am a runner’ and immediately start clocking up serious miles.
-Get painful knees.
-Try to run through them
-Don’t run for 6-12 months
“The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results.”
So, things have to change. I did some reading. OK, OK, I fairly obsessive, I did A LOT of reading. I need immediate rest, with regular icings and NSAIDs, lots of stretching and myofascial release. Then I need to drastically cut back my mileage: running long runs only every other week, and being careful of too many sprint sessions. The lack of mileage means I need to cross train, which will have the additional benefit of giving me more workout time to build up my leg muscles to stabilize my hips and knees. I can do all this. I hate icing my body, but I can do it. I can cross train – I had a mental block about doing it, and using the bike not the track for my HIIT, but I did it (and was worn out), I can swim if I have to (I love it but the endless hair washing), I can even use the dreaded elliptical. I can remember to take my NSAIDs and I can (just about) suck up less long runs (especially if I get another bike and can go for long bike rides).
But. I. Can’t. Rest. Or, more accurately, I can, and I will until this seems healed, but I hate it. No more active rests (Just a quick hike! Just keeping a friend company for 20 mins on the track! Just a zumba class!). Nothing. But sitting, for a while day, with zero wear and tear on my knee. I literally spent ages yesterday staring forlornly out of the window thinking how nice a run would be. Today I had to restrain myself from ‘a quick 20 mins’ on the elliptical. I have no fitness goals I have achieved today, no nice tired legs, no remnant endorphins to love off. Meantime, I have seen all my friends’ status updates about their gym visits, their progress and how much they loved their run. I have read their blogs about how today was perfect.
Sigh. I do know that there is a positive spin on this: I have some more time to get things done. It is indeed a challenge to learn to enjoy rest and eat well for rest so that you do repair and recover. Mental fortitude is required for all the stretching, massage and rolling. It’s semi-fun to look up alternatives. I will probably end up a better athlete for more weights, and some more cross training.
But none of that compares to a lovely long run… Soon…. soon.