This past week I started having some interior knee pain. At first, I felt a subtle twinge during a run. Later that same day I found that I had some tenderness if I pressed down on the tendon behind my knee. I’ve been running nice and easy since my half and felt great the entire week following the race, so I was surprised that this pain popped up more than two weeks after my event. If I’m honest here, I’m also really nervous because the pain is flaring up in the exact same spot where I suffered chronic pain in my past running days that landed me in physical therapy for more than six weeks. I had IT band and bursitis in the hip as well back then all on my right leg, and I’m definitely having some tightness in those regions again in my right leg. Argh. Even when the pain subsided, I never understood exactly why I started having it in the first place. I’ve always been careful about slowly increasing my mileage and intensity, and I regularly replace my running shoes. I did recently discover that the running store I went to fit me in the wrong shoes for my body and gait, so maybe that has something to do with my new pain. However, many running injuries are the result of muscle imbalance or weakness, which I strongly suspect is the case for me.
A runner’s imbalances are the slumbering volcanoes for injuries. Interestingly, injuries can manifest in some ways that are tricky to diagnose. You may be having problems in your feet, but the culprit is weakness in your glutes.
In the past, I wasn’t ever been able to really figure out my weaknesses and why the same injuries keep cropping up; some doctors blamed my apparent leg length discrepancy, but I received mixed messages depending on which doctor or physical therapist I saw. This time I’m determined to not just put a band-aid on the problem or even just rehabilitate it but to also correct my muscle weaknesses and imbalances. The good news is I’ve found a great physical therapist here in town who is a runner and knows running and is going to help me get to the bottom of my recurring injuries. He has already told me I have weakness in the glutes, and I’m using too much of my hamstrings to move me forward. This would help explain the tendonitis.
The bad news is I’ve been icing the sore spot, stretching, and taking anti-inflammatory meds, but it’s now not only hurting when I’m running but also just when I climb upstairs or are on my feet for too long as well. Sigh. (I want to scream and cry and shake angry fists in the air, but that seems a little dramatic over some moderate pain, so I’ll just keep sighing.) I had plans to go on an early Mother’s Day run with one of my running pals, but my husband has wisely reminded me that it’s better to give up a few runs now to ensure I’m back on my feet again for my regular runs in the near future. In the past, I ran through pain, including a stress fracture. It’s time to listen to my body and to swallow a slice of humble pie (while at the same time refusing seconds of the chocolate silk variety since I won’t be burning mega calories on a long run for a few days). You’ve got to not fall into the trap of being too short-sighted when you start feeling twinges of pain. There’s a difference between normal soreness and more acute aches. If you’re experiencing the latter, then it’s time to take a break and to realize that a prudential running hiatus will make you come back as a stronger runner. Same is true in mothering. There’s a big difference between a difficult day in the trenches and total, everyday burnout. If you’re experiencing the latter and finding very little joy in mothering, it’s time to ask for help. Drop your Super Runner/Super Mom/Superwoman cape off at the dry cleaners, okay? Enough already.
Enough already. That’s what I keep telling myself already. Why is it so difficult to humble ourselves, to admit that we’re hurting/injured/not invincible?
But, anyway, I so enjoyed hearing about other moms’ passions after my last post and was happy to see just how many women out there find exercise to be an excellent outlet for them. I’m taking a total rest day today (other than stretching and maybe some upper body strength training), and I plan on rowing tomorrow so long as it doesn’t aggravate my tendinitis on the inside of my right knee. My kids are actually glad I won’t be waking up for an early run because they like to bring me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. They really do treat me like a queen.
In other news, I’ll be headed back to Peoria, Illinois this June for two speaking engagements. I haven’t been there since last March when I was a speaker at the Behold Conference. When I was there, I met an amazing woman named Amy who just happens to work, along with her husband, for the Diocese of Peoria. Well, she invited me as a guest speaker for two exciting events – a mother-daughter tea and a talk geared for parents and those who work with youth. I’ve included the fliers below just in case any of my readers live in the area and are interested in attending. Please do let me know if you plan on showing up, so I can be on the lookout. My mom and two oldest daughters will be accompanying me for this weekend of fun and faith enrichment!