As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with IT band troubles for the last month, and it’s been beyond frustrating. I haven’t been able to run at all for the most part, which is quite different considering I had been running 50-60 mile weeks. My fitness has declined and more importantly, my mental health has taken a hit. It’s so frustrating not to be able to go run 10 miles at the drop of a hat, just because that’s what I want to do.
My ITB problems caused me to DNF at the Mississippi 50, and I struggled at the Headhunter 10K two weeks ago because I just could not train. I’ve been undergoing physical therapy for the last week and a half, just trying to get back to some semblance of health. I last ran a week ago, but had to bail midway through a planned 3 mile run. My knee then hurt a ton on Friday night and Saturday morning and I did not even entertain the thought of running since then.
Until tonight, that is. I got so tired of sitting on the sideline, that I just decided to go run at 10:00 tonight. I didn’t care if I only got around the block, I was gonna run, dammit. I figured it was important to go out slow, and naturally my knee started hurting halfway down the block. I briefly entertained the thought of stopping and heading back home, head hung low. But I then remembered something my PT said about running faster being less painful on the ITB. So, I picked up the pace and concentrated on my form a lot more than normal. Speeding up naturally let me land with a forefoot strike, and I was cruising before long. The pain began to lessen, and soon I hit the mile mark where my Garmin said I ran a 6:50 mile.
I kept going and at the mile and a half mark, I had to decide whether to keep going or call it a day. Of course, I kept going. I was really moving now and my lungs were feeling it big time. It had been a long time since I ran this fast, and my knee was holding up alright. A few minutes later, the familiar sound of the Garmin told me I was at mile 2. 6:10. 6:10? Was that right? Whoa, I was really moving and my the burn in my lungs was starting to overtake the pain in my knee.
At this point, I knew I had just over a mile to get back home, so it would be a 3 mile run. I was huffing and puffing now. I could tell that I was starting to slow down a bit, and it was tough on my lungs. I was thankful when I crossed an intersection that I know is only half a mile from my house. I really was starting to realize just how out of shape I’ve gotten, not only because I haven’t been able to train, but even pre-injury, my focus was on long distance runs and not speed. Just a block before my driveway, I heard the beep. I knew I had slowed down some. But I was wrong. 6:06. I ran my third mile in 6 seconds over a 6 minute pace. I clicked off the remaining distance and ended up right at 3.1 miles and a total time of 19:43. So much for easing back into it.
The first thing I noticed when I slowed down to cool off wasn’t my knee. My calves were on fire. Concentrating on that forefoot strike had those calves burning. I got back home and immediately iced my knee, and enjoyed a well earned Stone Arrogant Bastard ale. I worked my calves with The Stick roller, but I can still feel them.
The big test comes tomorrow. Does my knee respond well, or is it back to painful steps for the next day. I’m hoping it feels alright. Even just a little pain and discomfort will be better than the excruciating pain I’ve felt in it of late.
But either way, I sure enjoyed getting outside and finally running again. It was a much better kind of hurt, one that all runners can appreciate. It’s why we run. And I’ve sure missed it.