Have you watched the film Spirit of the Marathon? I love this movie-length documentary. It tells real stories of real people preparing for their first marathon, Chicago marathon 2005 (there is even a runner who has to pull out of training due to a knee injury). It also tells the stories of a handful of elite runners preparing for the same marathon.
One of those elites is Deena Kastor, an Olympian from the US. At the beginning of her training program she tripped over a pine cone and broke a bone in her foot. I haven’t watched this film for a while so this information is from memory. A totally non-running related injury. She was just going about life and something damaged her and got in the way of her running. What did she do? She kept training. She had access to a water treadmill and kept on running. It wasn’t ideal but she went out and smashed that marathon. My memories say she was the first woman.
This came to mind on Friday when I visited the physio yet again for more treatment on my knee. The physio I was seeing is on leave so I got to see the principal of the practice. He read the notes on my knee and then asked me to tell him the story of how my knee problem came to be.
- I told him that I’d done Ross Marathon the day before.
- I told him that I’d woken the next day full of energy and a bit twitchy in the legs and had taken myself off for a 3km walk. No knee pain. Just a general satisfied achy-tiredness was all I felt.
- I told him that I’d mown the lawns (this is a job that takes me a full hour). No knee pain or discomfort.
- I told him that I’d been called to the calf shed to help and that a calf had hit me in the knee.
- I told him that that night my knee had been sore and had woken me up a few times and that the next day it had ached even when sitting.
- I told him that since that day it had slowly started to come right but from time to time it felt like I had a big prickle stuck in the outside of my knee.
The physio did ligament and range of motion testing – all came up 100% ok and no pain or discomfort. He asked me what I had been told my problem was. ITB Syndrome, I said. He said very politely that he didn’t agree with that diagnosis. He said I’d sustained minor damage to my meniscus. This made so much sense to me. How could a knock from a calf in the knee bring on ITB syndrome? All the treatment I’ve been receiving and the rehab I’ve been doing hasn’t been a waste of time. The physio wants me to keep going with it so that the muscles that support my knee are built up. The diagnosis of ITB Syndrome is understandable due to the full range of motion in the knee and where the discomfort is.
Where to from here? I was allowed to try a 5km run on Friday but if there was discomfort the following day that would be the sign to scale back again. There was discomfort. I’m taking another week off running. I’m pleased to say that today there is hardly any noticeable difference between left and right knee. My right knee is just doing its thing and not doing its usual attention grabbing stuff. And that 5kms? I loved it. I could’ve run and run and run (apart from the knee discomfort that is). My fitness and endurance doesn’t seem to have been damaged like my poor right meniscus has.
I had an interesting experience on Friday. I was having a quick coffee at a cafe and I was looking up meniscus on my smart phone. A waiter stopped and said Oh, you’ve damaged your meniscus have you? I nodded. Don’t worry, he said, I damaged both mine at the same time and they have both healed as good as new, just rest. I asked him how long healing had taken and he said just over a month. I was so buoyed up by this.
Here’s to another week of the Rehab Race. Like Deena Kasta, my current issue wasn’t caused by running, I was helping my over-worked husband. I probably should’ve said no but that’s hard to do when we are so stretched. Deena didn’t give up but held on to her dream. My reality is that I might have to let go of my Ultra dream for this year, but the great thing is that it can easily be picked up again in 2017 or whenever it might be right. That road isn’t going anywhere! It will wait for me until me and my meniscus are ready to tackle it.
Every day is a day closer to getting back into running. Getting the knee right has become so much more important than running the Ultra. I’m in running for a long time, not a fast time – I hope for a lifetime. Quitting isn’t an option.
Happy running 🙂
PS when I got my running gear out on Friday I hugged it and said Hello Old Friends. I miss the whole routine of running so much. Then today when I folded it all up (it’s been on the airer) I gave it all another hug. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I can get it out again. Come on meniscus, respond to time and rehab, Team Unsporty Woman needs you!