In the wake of Smurf’s blog, this might be considered kicking the FitLife blog while it’s down, but let’s just see it as the universe balancing Rob’s great Sambo weekend by dealing the rest of the FitLifers a sweep to the leg.
A few weeks back, I took a sweltering—but otherwise terrific—run along the Embarcadero, through Crissy Field, up to the bridge and down to Sausalito. (Here’s the map.) Coming off the bridge down into the two-lane road into Sausalito, I felt twinges in my outer left knee. The shoulder was wide, but slanted, and my left leg literally took the high road. The pain wasn’t too intense, though, and I (correctly) attributed it to the combination of fatigue, running downhill, and the angle of the road.
Three days later, I had an intense Devil-Ettes rehearsal (in my go go boots); another one Wednesday night; and with the Prom Party on Thursday night, I spent a solid six hours tromping around in go go boots. Friday, I took the day off everything–work, exercise, everything that didn’t involve Buffy Season 2 or my secret affair.
Saturday morning, back to Lake Merced, which I’d found to be a perfect running spot: wide sidewalks, an ocean breeze, foggy skies, and an easily measurable five-mile circuit. (If I didn’t live downtown I’d run it every other day.) A mile in, my knee growled in a similar manner as it had the previous week. Then it barked. Then it turned into Oz on a full moon, and I gasped to a halt, much to the dismay of my pacer. She sent me, wobbling and limping, back the mile and a half to the parking lot (and thanks to the nice fellow from www.gay.com, who drove me home!).
Six weeks before the marathon, and my knee zaps out only five miles in. I tried to be optimistic. After all, I’d just run five miles–a great five miles, I might add, with my lungs feeling like they could easily take on another four with no problems. And I’d had a rough week of go-going. Eight days later–eight days of RICEing and minimal dancing, I should add–and I head back out to Lake Merced. I’ll take it slow. I’ll only do one circuit of the lake. It’ll be great.
A mile in, and the werewolf returned. I walked the circuit. I headed home. The werewolf chewed on my knee for a good four hours, and I headed to the doctor yesterday for my diagnosis. What is it? Runner’s knee, which is to say, my knee hurts real bad cause of I’ve been running and stuff. (Technically, it’s called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, and it’s caused by a combination of weak inner quads, tight hamstrings and IT bands, overpronation, and apparently, wide hips. Which is to say, I’ve pretty much been begging the goddess Nike to strike me down.)
As far as diagnoses go, it’s not terrible. It’s just terribly timed. It’s like breaking out the week before the prom. You can use your toner, your prescription medication, wash your face five times a day and cut out chocolate and french fries, but there’s still that chance it’ll just decide to hang out. The difference here is, I can use cover-up on a breakout. Using ibuprofen to dull the pain in my knee could force me into some pretty serious PT.
I’m mad. Like crying-mad. It’s not bloody fair. I’ve been working at this since January, and now, four weeks out, I develop a generic, easily diagnosed injury that may or may not be caused by any one of six things I’m currently doing. Was it brought on by downhill and the slanted road? Probably. But that week, I was breaking in new shoes–high stability to correct my overpronation, but different than my usual New Balances. Is it that my tight hamstrings and ITs suddenly couldn’t take more than nine miles? None of the above? All of the above? How do I fix it? Oh, I can RICE until my knee turns blue from the compression and cold; I can step up my Pilates and stretch and roll out my legs every day; I can even buy a new pair of shoes. But what if it’s none of that? What if it’s all of it?
What if, August 3, I find myself breaking down after mile one like I did this weekend? Worse yet, what if I have to decide on July 26 that the previous seven months have been a wash, and it’s not worth it to even try? Will I be fulfilling my secret fear that I’m, on the inside, just a big wuss who takes any excuse not to commit to physical activity? People run through monster hangovers and cancer and with only one leg and here I am, wimping out because of a twinge in my knee. A twinge that has nothing to do with my asthma or my back or any of the other things I always used to blame.