Runner’s Knee

Laurelhurst 5k

I ran my first 5k of the year on Sunday.

Did I train for it? Not really. Have I been running? Yes. So when last week arrived and I realized the race was coming up, I wasn’t too worried. For months I’ve been running every Wednesday with Logan 4.5-5 miles and then on Fridays at work during lunch, I run 2.5-3 miles on the treadmill (depending on how much time I have).

So for the spring and summer, I have been running around 8 miles a week. I figured a 5k wouldn’t be a big issue. I was looking forward to this race. I signed up for two 5k’s last year but I wasn’t quite ready to run them postpartum and ended up skipping them. The last 5k I ran was when I was pregnant with Logan!

Here is a post from 2 years ago when I ran the Laurelhurst 5k. I had been newly pregnant and had just hurt my back, so I was surprised I was able to run it at all. My time that time was 39:41.

The plan for this year was to run the 5k as a family. I was going to run with Logan in the running stroller and Michael was going to run with us. Well, we seem to have bad luck with races–this year? We all got the stomach flu last week. Of course!

Logan got it Tuesday, I got it Wednesday. Michael got it Thursday and was sick all weekend, so he didn’t run and stayed home with Logan. I was solo this time. Which was kind of a bummer.

I woke up Sunday and had breakfast of two fried eggs, half a bagel with cream cheese and coffee. It was dreary out. After months of sun and hot hot hot weather, the weather was rainy and gray. We definitely need the rain, and hopefully it will clear the air of the wildfire smoke, but it was kind of a bummer for race day! It turned out to not be that bad. The rain stopped for most of the race, and just misted a little bit.

They changed the race route this year. The last few years we’ve done it, it was three laps on the pavement through Laurelhurst Park. This year, they made it two laps and it was partly through differently terrain: grass, hills, bark dust, dirt, plus the paved trails.

Laurelhurst Park is really pretty. Lots of trees and plants and there are ponds with ducks and geese. The trail was pretty good this year. I did like that it was only 2 laps through the park. But I wasn’t super excited about running on uneven ground. There were parts of the trail that had tree roots coming up out of the grass and if you stepped wrong, I could see a sprained ankle happening.

I started out pretty good on the race. I just listened to my music and set a pace. I wasn’t in a mood to try and break any records of mine. I just wanted to run the race and hopefully not have to walk for most of it!

I ran the first mile of the race without any walk breaks. I wasn’t particularly fast but I was doing pretty good. There were two hills, one was gravel, that I did walk on during both of the laps.

Sweaty, blurry run selfie!

I started the second lap of the race feeling really strong. I wasn’t tired, despite having the flu for four days leading up to the race. My left knee was a little achy but overall, my body felt good. There was about 1/2 mile left of the race. I sped up a little bit to finish strong.

I crossed the finish line and got my ribbon! I felt really great! Especially for not having to take many walking breaks during the race.

I grabbed half a banana after the race and drank some water, stretched, and then headed home. I didn’t hang around for the raffle. I was sweaty and wet from the drizzle rain during the race and looking forward to a hot shower.

Here are my stats:

So I’m confused as to why the mileage is off. I’m not sure if the race was off or if my GPS was off. I don’t get it. But despite that, I was really happy with my pace and my time. 36 minutes is my best 5k time! I felt super happy about that!

I feel strong and happy with my race and my time! I’m so glad it went well! Next month is my next 5k!

Things That Have Helped My Running

I was talking to a friend recently who is training for Hood To Coast and she was talking about how she hates running. Or at least, hates it until she gets out there and is actually doing it. Two things: 1) I think part of the reason I think a lot of people hate running* (*but want to do it anyways) is because it’s HARD and sometimes it HURTS….and 2) I love running. Love it. It’s hard. Sometimes it hurts. But I love it.

I’ve loved it since I started running 10 years ago. I started running because I was getting pretty close to my goal weight and I was full of ENERGY. Tons of it. Going from being obese and not very active to suddenly being athletic, I had tons of energy and it was just a natural progression for me to start running.   Some of my favorite running memories are the places I’ve run.

#1 – Hawaii! The below photo was from a run in Kona I did years ago. I absolutely loved running from our condo to downtown Kona, partially along the coast, and seeing the sights on foot. Whenever we go on vacation, my desire is to go for a run and see my new environment that way. Also, running with Michael in Maui on our honeymoon is one of my favorite memories of our trip, too. (And it started his interest in running!) The scenery was so gorgeous and the weather was perfect…and running along the ocean is amazing. It cannot be beat!

#2 – Vegas! I’ve run in Vegas many times and it’s so fun. You can see parts of the Strip that you don’t normally visit, a little off-the-beaten-path. The nice thing about running in Vegas is that you aren’t stuck in the Casino gym, you can people watch, and you are usually up early enough that it’s not as crowded. #3 – Santa Monica When we went to LA and Santa Monica a few years ago, I didn’t run in LA/Hollywood but I did run in Santa Monica on Muscle Beach. There was a boardwalk and path so you can run “on” the beach. 🙂 It was gorgeous. I seriously need to live somewhere with warm weather and beaches. 😉

#4 – Bend Back in May, we took a family trip to Bend for the time not in winter! It was so nice to be in the high desert in the summer time, with the sunshine and warm weather. And being in the desert, my body aches and pains vanished. I clearly need to move the desert. Basically somewhere warm where my body doesn’t hurt. #5 – Arizona Lastly, Arizona. I’ve been to Arizona a few times now and went for runs. The first time was with my dad. It was fun running with him (even though my 60+ year old dad was a faster runner than I was!) and we saw this snake: Obviously running with my dad was a fun memory. I also ran by myself the last time I was in Tucson for a friend’s wedding. It was nice just being out on the road with me, my music, the sunshine and the desert.

Running Injuries

This post is about tools and tricks that have helped me start running, become a better runner, and get over running injuries I’ve had in the past. It’s no secret that I am The Queen of Running Injuries. I think I’ve had most of them. Whomp whomp.

Runner’s Knee was the worst of them because it really sucked, it hurt even to walk during the worst of it, and it took forever to get over it. I think what makes me LOVE running so much is that for awhile there, I couldn’t do it. Not being able to run when you really want to makes you want it more. At least, it did for me.

Now on to the list!  

Knee Straps

For awhile there I was using K-Tape. I know a lot of people swear by it and I used it for a long time to help with my runner’s knee injury (that lasted several years) but the tape really did awful things to my skin. It ripped my skin, made it red, made my skin itch really badly…it looked terrible and if you were really sweaty, the K-Tape wouldn’t stay on. So, I did some research and found runner straps for my knees. CUE ANGELS SINGING. Thank goodness I found these “jumpers knee” straps on Amazon because they were seriously a life saver. They worked like magic with my runner’s knee and didn’t irritate my skin! I swear by these and still use them when I run, mostly out of habit now–not sure I still need them but slightly nervous to try running without them.

Garmin Watch/Heart Rate Monitor

When Michael got me a Polar Heart Rate monitor 8 years ago, I’d never used one before, didn’t really know much about them and didn’t understand why I needed one…until I started using it. It was like a light-bulb went off. I was suddenly able to see how inefficient I was at running and I used the heart rate monitor to help me train better and pay more attention to my heart rate in relation to pacing. Also? I was able to get a more accurate number of calories burned from each activity I did, instead of just guessing based on an internet website calculator. This REALLY helped me with my weight loss goals! I’ve recently switched over to a Garmin watch and absolutely love it. Check out my review here.

Foam Roller We now have a collection of foam rollers in our house and Michael uses them religiously every night. I use the foam rollers after running or some activity that I can tell I will be sore from (lower body weight lifting, for example). I seriously suggest anyone who is even sort of interested in running, or who does a lot of working out, to invest in your own foam roller at home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a kink somewhere in my body that it fixed.

Strength Training and PT Exercises  A lot of things helped me become a better runner and get over my various injuries but I would have to say the most important has been strength training problem areas that are causing the issues. According to my physical therapist, runner’s knee is due to weak glutes. So I do a lot of focused work on that area and I’ve noticed a difference when I do it on a regular basis.

Check out these old posts about that:

Favorite Lower Body Workouts

Physical Therapy exercises

Oddly enough, what really seemed to help a lot with my Runner’s Knee issues was having a baby. After I had Logan and started getting back into running, I didn’t seem to have the same issues I had pre-baby. (Knock on wood!) One things I did have? Hip issues and low back issues after having a baby. Basically, I had no core. I’ve been working so hard for the last year to strengthen my core and get back into running shape. PT and core exercises have done wonders.  

Regular Massages/Chiropractor Visits Thank goodness for insurance! I can get 1 massage a month covered by insurance so I only pay $25 a visit in order to get a massage or see the chiropractor. In the past I could only get a massage a few times a year. Doing it monthly really has helped a lot to keep injuries from becoming worse. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover any of that “alternative care” options (sometimes they do but don’t tell you) and take advantage of it.

Runner’s Up: I wanted to add a few things to the end of this list. I think it’s really important to get fitted for running shoes at a running store, by a professional. It made a HUGE difference in the early days of my running. It’s often free, too, so what do you have to lose? Go get fitted! And don’t forget to replace your running shoes a few times a year.

QUESTION: What has been the biggest help in your running?