Monday, September 16, 2013

Injury Report: When Mental Strength Isn't Enough

I have a new found respect for any endurance athlete who's ever been injured.  Somehow I've lucked out and made it 5+ years as a runner/triathlete without ever really getting hurt.  Sure I've had the minor aches and pains and not so minor GI issues but I've never had any debilitating/take you out of the game injuries.  Well my number is up and I am officially on the injured reserve list.

Every Sunday night, I give myself the, this-is-the-week-pep-talk.  On a normal week, I will map my workouts out on my calendar of what I would like to accomplish.  This usually includes 9-10 workouts including 2 at lunch, multiple morning runs and a long run every weekend.  Fast forward to the following Sunday and most likely I got in 5 of those workout, zero before work and cut my long run in half or just didn't do it.  So I start prepping for the next week because THIS-is-the-week. It's a vicious cycle of wanting to be a more serious athlete and refusing to give up other things in my life, ex: drinking on Sat. night and watching Scandal and football on my couch. You know, the important things.  Do I keep dreaming big and executing poorly? YES! Do I think that I am the exception for the time and training required for successful races?  Apparently.  But every now and then I have breakthroughs and fulfilling weeks where I hit all my goals.  Those weeks are what keep me going.

Post Hood To Coast I came home rejuvenated, motivated and ready to take my running to the next level.  I had a quick recovery week and jumped into marathon training with a "I am going to own Half Moon Bay attitude."  I researched some good local running groups, sketched out the next month of training and it was go time.  During the first week of this month I had already logged over 21 miles by Wed.  Normally I don't do 21 in a week.  I decided out of the blue on Thursday I was also going to hit up a lunch yoga class at my gym.  I haven't been to yoga in a few months but thought the stretching would be good for me.  About half way through the class I was in a deep plie squat and felt something pop in the back of my right knee.  It didn't hurt right away but it was a moment of "oh crap, that didn't feel right."

I finished the class and kind of forgot about it until I was telling MFR about it later that night.  The next morning it felt fine so I went for my scheduled 5 miler.  I favored the right leg a little during the run but thought it was mental.  The next day it was sore, swollen and hurt to touch.  I took the weekend off, tried a short run on Tues (no-go)  and finally got into the doctor on Wed.  Long story long, I have tendonitis in my knee; more specifically popliteus tendinitis.  This diagnosis is an educated guess without any sort of x-ray or MRI.  However, things that cause this type of tendinitis: overuse, running downhill and squat position.  Ding, ding, ding!!! 

I proceeded to have my one and only mental breakdown. I am feeling the best I have physically in a long time and more focused mentally then ever before.  I am finally ready to be that athlete I envision every Sunday night and now I am sidelined.  In the grand scheme it's really not that bad and knee tendinitis albeit annoying, is not that serious compared to a torn ACL etc... The problem is the doctor didn't really have recovery plan for me, other than RICE, some dynamic stretching and going by feel.  If you know me at all, you know how much I hate vague directives.  I want him to tell me, don't run for 5 days, ice it for 20 min in the morning and night, do these 5 stretches and you'll be good.  Instead I got more of a could be a few days to a few months response.

It doesn't hurt (more) while running it's actually the worst when sitting at my desk.   So I should keep running right?  Right? For now it's rock taped, I haven't ran in over a week and I think it's getting better.  I did two bike rides this weekend and it didn't seem to bother it at all besides just the awareness of something off with my knee.  I am currently struggling with whether I'll make it worse or is this just one of those pains you can work through? 

My game plan is to ease back into running this week.  I've given up the dream of a marathon in two weeks and will be switching to the half (which may even be questionable depending on how this goes).  I am on the hunt for a good PT since I have a theory everything is stemming from my right hip issues that I've never dealt with.  At this point I have not given up hope for a 2013 Marathon but if I need more time off I'll just have to deal.  I will feel like a failure if I don't meet my sub 4:30 goal but it's not worth it to further injure myself and be sidelined indefinitely.  My biggest concern is being healthy for Ragnar Vegas Ultra and I don't want to jeopardize that by pushing for a marathon.  We'll see how the next two weeks go and then I'll reassess a race/recovery schedule.  I am hoping to at least run a 10 miler this weekend but I'll have to take it day by day and see how it feels.

Any and all feedback is welcome if you've had a similar injury.


  1. OH NO! So sorry to hear about your injury!! :(

    I'm glad you didn't tear your ACL. Believe me, I know that is no fun. I haven't had that injury though, so no good suggestions for you. Just make sure you take it easy on your recovery.

  2. OUCH! I hope you are okay and that it is nothing too major. Rest up!