Training Hit a Snag? Listen To Your Own Advice

Sometimes you’re in the middle of an intense training cycle and something feels off, but you don’t want to stop. Most of the time, deep down, you know better. This knowledge is hidden away in a dark place you don’t want to look, so you ignore it. Or maybe something goes wrong and you can’t figure out why, even though the answer is right in front of you. Pretty soon, however, you have a full-blown injury. Now you have to miss out on a lot.

This was recently the case with me.

Richmond and Houston Marathon Performance

In the weeks leading up to my last two marathons, I started experiencing significant knee pain on both knees knees, which made me question whether it was actually a weird mental, hypochondriac, pre-marathon stress-related thing, not an oncoming injury.

Before Richmond I took almost two weeks off because of knee pain. My knee didn’t bother me during the marathon and was fine after. A few days before Houston, out of the blue, my other knee started hurting so badly that I had to cut a run short. I didn’t run for two days, hoping it wouldn’t bother me during the race. I won’t say my knee was a factor during the race, but it certainly was a factor after. My knee pain was pretty bad.

Time off, but still no improvement

I didn’t worry too much about it; I was so mentally deflated from my performance I had no plans to run for a while anyway. I did nothing for a week and then, tired of feeling blah, started riding my bike on the trainer. My knee seemed better, but I could still feel it. After two weeks I had the desire to run again, so for several days I tried short easy runs. My knee still bothered me, but I figured a PT would tell me it was overuse and that time off was the only solution, so I waited it out a few more weeks.

After a few visits to the chiropractor, new shoes, and four weeks of no running, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was actually good timing because the Olympics provided plenty of entertainment while I rode my bike, but I wanted to be outside.

In my own internet search diagnosis, 4-6 weeks is generally the amount of time off prescribed for knee overuse injuries. So I started running again. It didn’t make it any worse, but it also wasn’t getting better. What was the deal?

Scraping to the rescue!

While in the car, using my handy handheld rolling ball massager, it dawned on me. If it wasn’t overuse, or hips out of alignment, or shoes, it must be something internal pulling on my knee. When I got home I dug out my Asian soup spoon and started scraping. Sure enough, I hit several very sore spots deep in my quad, too deep for the rolling ball massager to reach, but just perfect for scraping. The next day I had bruises, but running felt better. For the next several days I continued to scrape, added EMS to the bruised spots, and my knee pain decreased as my running increased.

It was an “Aha” moment. If I had taken the time to roll and scrape my legs and do active recovery after the marathon, I probably would have discovered this immediately. Or if I’d done those things while training, I probably would have avoided the injury in the first place. Rookie, or lazy me mistake – I should have known better. Next time, I’ll try to listen to my own advice.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Do you usually take your own advice?

I have fun trying to sprint, enjoy long runs in the mountains, and everything in between. Former competitive runner (3 x marathon OTQ & trail marathon national champion) currently working through a lingering injury. I write about trying to stay competitive while raising young kids and moving into a new post-competitive stage.

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