So…About that Runner’s Knee…

….I’s got itz.

Yeah. It sucks. Goddamn runner’s knee. The bane of every runner. The curse of many people who, like me, are blessed with fantastic genetics (sarcasm) and have knee issues. My brother kindly reminded me that our Grandpa had horrible knee issues (they were replaced several times I think) and so do a few aunts. This is something I need to be mindful of. Knees. You Suck.

So let me back up.

About a month ago I had my annual physical and asked my doctor about the weird knee issues I’d been having. I told her that every once in awhile I have a weird feeling in my knees where it’s like bone-on-bone grinding. It’s been a sporadic and random pain. I’ve experienced it most obviously during some hiking excursions and the descent down a mountain has not been a pleasant feeling. I also had an intense inflammation in my kneecaps after spin class last winter–again SPORADIC. It wasn’t every time, it wasn’t even once a week. It was weird and sometimes painful and I’d ice my knees and take Advil like it was candy. I never gave it much thought because it wasn’t happening very often and in general I felt really good physically. Also the reason why I’ve never really mentioned it on the blog.

I told my doctor about it and asked if I needed to get an MRI or something, or if I should be concerned. She quickly diagnosed me with runner’s knee(aka Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome). She said that it was inflammation in the tissues on the kneecap and since it wasn’t a pain I experienced all the time, she dismissed it. She told me to strengthen my quads (which I found weird considering I bike, swim, hike, run, and lift weights–aren’t my quads strong enough?!?!). I forgot about the conversation because I wasn’t currently having any noticeable knee issues.

I did the Salem metric century and felt AWESOME. Felt great afterward. I was surprised, in fact, that I didn’t have more soreness or fatigue or aches. Then two days later I get the bright idea to go for a run at the gym. I barely did 3 miles and knew that my knees were not happy campers.

I iced my knees after my run and went to bed. I woke up the next morning, they felt back to normal, and then did the 1.75 mile walk across the bridge to work like I do almost every day and half way across the bridge my knees flared up. Yep. They were angry. I spent the rest of the day in discomfort. It hurt to stand. It hurt to sit. It wasn’t excruciating pain, it was more annoying and troublesome than “oh my god this HURTS.” It’s hard to describe.

After work I went to the pool thinking it would help. I started swimming freestyle, my knees aching, and then quickly decided it was time to give my knees a rest. I used the buoy so that I didn’t have to kick or use my legs at all and just got an upper body workout. It was a nice swim, I felt good in the water, I was happy that I could kind of unwind in the pool. I swam 1 mile in 37 minutes, strictly freestyle, and then sat in the hot tub forever. Iced when I got home. Crossed my fingers the inflammation was going down. Took more Advil. Tried to distract myself with TV shows. I need to rest.

Part of me wants to tighten the reigns, reduce my calories, be mindful of what I’m eating, make those hard choices that suck (“Yes, I’ll pass on dessert tonight” and “no thanks, just water for me”)…and the other voice in my head is saying “Honey, you’ve been here before and you did NOT gain weight when you had to stop running. In fact, you lost weight.”

I think there is a happy medium in there somewhere. Yes, I need to be a little more mindful of my calories. But, I know I can do some activities while I let my knees heal, however long that is. I can lift weights (upper body only) and swim and be as content as can be (been there, done that).

I’m trying to look at this situation as not a permanent, heartbreaking thing like how I felt with my ITB injury two years ago. When that happened and my doc said stop running for two months, I fell into a depression that lasted about two weeks and I pulled myself out of it by starting to lift weights. I’m hoping that this time around I have the skills to NOT slip into that depression and stay positive as I heal. I could definitely use some encouraging words, if you’ve experienced this and came out a winner! 

The plan right now is to take a break from running and the bike. I’m actually ok with taking a break from cycling because I did it so much this summer. I’m ready for a change. I am bummed about the running. I was kind of looking forward to making the switch to that this fall.

QUESTION: Tell me some good stories of healing!

No Matter How Long the Winter, Spring is Sure to Follow

Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn

Has Spring sprung in your neck of the woods yet? Monday in Portland was sunny and cool, frost on the ground and little flowers poking out of the ground.

Crocuses and daffodils are some of my favorite flowers because they are the first to show up in Spring. It means Winter is almost over (thankfully!!).

Catching up on weekend posts? I ran extra long and hard on Saturday morning’s workout. I wondered if I would regret it the next day, regret pushing myself too far too soon.

The good news: I did NOT regret it! I woke up Sunday feeling great, went swimming with no issues and now on Monday I’m still not regretting running longer. Perhaps I am healing? Could that $3 plastic Heel Lift from my doctor REALLY be working?? If that was all it took to cure my ITBS I am going to be a happy camper.

Dinner was…interesting…Sunday night. We Meal Planned for pork chops and squash. Easy was key. I bought one large pork chop and Michael and I split it. That worked well for portion sizes.

First I baked the acorn squash. Michael was in charge of cutting it in half (I can’t be trusted with knives and things like that). Scooped out the guts and put the squash face down in a dish with water.

I’m sad to admit that I never ate squash until about a year ago. The reason: I had NO idea how to prepare it! Glad that has since been remedied. Michael turned the Convection oven on at 400 degrees as an experiment. We settled in to watch SNL because squash usually takes an hour to bake.

20 minutes later the house smelled like baked squash. I figured we still had about 30 minutes more at least. I waited a few more minutes and then decided to check the squash. Thank goodness I did! It was done! Not ruined, but very done. Apparently the trick to cooking squash faster is Convection.

I was really low on calories for the day and I found a canister of crescent rolls in the fridge leftover from Thanksgiving. It said to use by January 2011. Ooops. We popped those into the oven while the pork chop cooked. I also steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

I ate one cup of squash (about 120 calories), a serving of pork and lots of veggies. The pork was unfortunately not as great as it’s been in the past. I think it was thicker than usual and it took longer to cook so there were a few overdone parts. I don’t know that any of the dinner items went very well together. Oh well!

Speaking of food…a reader commented on my turkey post about how frustrating it is that the packages come in 20 ounce sizes. She wanted to know what to do with so much turkey. I have an answer!

A month ago I bought a TON of ground turkey at Costco as part of the Meal Planning experiment. Michael pre-makes the turkey burger patties and freezes them. Defrosting the patties takes a few minutes, the flavor & texture doesn’t get ruined and it’s SOOO easy on a busy night. It’s saved dinner many times.

We currently have several pounds of ground turkey in the freezer. Not all of it is formed into turkey burger patties. About half the turkey is still in it’s package and will be used as we need it. Like I said, it’s easy to defrost and great to have on hand for recipes.

QUESTION: Are you enjoying Spring weather yet or is it still Winter where you’re at? And what is your favorite way to prepare/use squash?