taking a break

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!

Mental and Physical Break Part 2

You can read Part 1 Here.

DAY THREE

How I Did: I was starting to get the itch. I was almost mentally and physically ready to go back to the gym and my routine. I weighed in for the first time since my Texas Vacation. I’ll be honest, I was a tad nervous. I waited a few weeks to “correct the damage” I’d done in Texas before getting on the scale. It was a good number. It was my pre-Texas number (144).

How I Felt Physically: I felt much better on Day 3 than I did the first two days. It was like my body was finally over the aches and pains. I didn’t walk around feeling like my body was falling apart like I did earlier in the week. The upper back soreness was gone. The pains in my shins and knee were gone. So that was a good sign!

How I Felt Mentally:  Mentally I felt okay. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed with some things on Day Three. Normally I would have an outlet (the gym) to work out some of that anxious energy but I didn’t have that. Mentally I was looking forward to the gym.

What I Did: Wednesday after work Michael and I made the trek to his mom’s house for dinner. Nothing better than comfort food from Mom! She read my mind too, I’d been craving comfort food all week. She made spaghetti, Caesar salad and had fresh bread. Perfect.

A glass of wine or two to relax…it was a nice night.

Candy Detox: On the Candy front I didn’t do too well. Day One I avoided the Candy Room at work and successfully did not eat any. Day Two I caved. I was disappointed but it wasn’t the end of the world.

 

DAY FOUR

Back to the gym! I most definitely needed that work out. The week I’d had I needed it. The plan was to hit the Spin Class but I got stuck in traffic and got to the gym too late to join the class. Which is one of the main reasons I hate taking classes. The pressure, the stress to get there, the classes never working with my schedule, etc. But all was not a wash. I got to the gym and changed and hit the treadmill. After not running for over 2 weeks I ran almost 4 miles on the treadmill. It was an okay run, nothing fast, nothing special, but better than my runs were before I took a few weeks off from it.

I finished up with some weight lifting and then went home. I didn’t feel inspired by the workout but I was glad I went and got in something. Next week I’m going to try hard to get in a Spin Class.

THE VERDICT

I am 100% glad I did this. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make it all three days. I wasn’t entirely sure I needed this until I did it. My body told me that I most DEFINITELY needed this break. I was surprised by how much my body hurt during the break. I was also surprised at how hungry I was those three days. Shouldn’t it be the opposite–extra hungry on exercise days?

I am also 100% glad to be back at the gym. I didn’t want to take too long of a break for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want to fall off the “wagon” of exercising. It’s so much harder to start up again after that and 2) I didn’t want to lose all of my fitness I’d built up. I think I avoided those two pitfalls AND got the much needed break. Success!

Will I do it again? Probably. If taking a break like this a few times a year means I am refreshed and I can avoid getting run down and sick, it’s a good thing.

QUESTION: How long of a break have you taken and then gotten “back on the wagon” right away? Was it a struggle?