But I Will Run Again

I can’t run.

It’s not that the doctor has told me not to run, or that I am deciding to take some time off. Or even that I’m too busy or don’t want to run.

I can not run.

The pain in my knee and calf is too severe. My walk is a limp most of the time. I try to run and it’s at best a fast limpy convulsion that doesn’t really resemble running.

I saw an orthopedic doctor last week who said my knee pain stumped him, because structurally, my knee is fine.  He gave me a cortisone shot in my hip, because occasionally children present with knee pain that stems from a hip problem.  I was skeptical, but willing to try, because the pain has gotten that severe. Over the course of the day after my shot, my knee pain subsided, and by the time I woke up the next morning, I had 75% pain reduction.

I was elated! It was working!  As the day wore on, all the pain seeped back into my knee, and now I am in the same pain I was in before the shot. To say I was disheartened and frustrated would be an understatement. I sobbed to my mom, to a wonderful woman at work, to my family, to Chris…

I can’t run.

I tried to run yesterday, slow – painfully slow. I made it a half mile before honestly could not run another single step. I stood on the street corner and stretched and pleaded for my knee to just work.  I choked back a few tears, and I continued on, but at a walk.  I limped/walked another 4.5 miles, determined to at least get in a considerable amount of steps and try to keep my heart rate up enough to get something out of it.

The thoughts don’t stop. Will I ever be able to run again? Will the knee pain ever go away? Why doesn’t anyone seem to know what the problem is, so I can work to fix it? What if I can’t ever run again? Who am I if I don’t have running? How will I get in shape and lose some weight so my knee has less pressure, if I can’t run? What if I need surgery? What I I get surgery and it doesn’t fix it? What if I can never run again?

I’m determined to find an answer. I hate how expensive going to doctors is, especially when they don’t know what’s wrong, ordering tests and trying injections and so on.  But I’m not going to live with this pain and the inability to move.

I can’t run.

Right now.

But I will run again.

Running will always be there for me, even if I have to take a few months off.  Time to heal, time to strengthen, time to rebuild.  This scares me beyond measure because I am scared it is unfixable.

But I will run again.

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The Road to Progress

I’ve had several people ask me about my knee, and my progress with it lately.  I guess that means it’s time for a little update post!

My [left] knee (and my right glute, for that matter) have been doing so much better since January.  To recap very quickly, I went to the orthopedic doctor the first week of January, and was instructed to take 2 weeks off running, I received a cortisone shot in my knee, and was sent home with a diagnosis of a torn meniscus.  When I ran again, 2 weeks later, the pain was back.  At the beginning of February, and an MRI later, it was determined my knee was structurally sound, no tears in my meniscus, or elsewhere.  I was given 2 more cortisone shots in different parts of my knee.  I was frustrated and upset, and after several more visits to my chiropractor, he gave me a series of stretches that have diminished the pain so much that it is all but gone.

I don’t know how much the pain diminished due to the shots, and how much the chiropractic stretches and needlings and adjustments have attributed to it.  I also stopped wearing my Hokas (they were about worn out anyway) and switched to my Altra Lone Peaks.  The change in shoes, chiropractic stretches, and cortisone shots all happened within about 2 weeks, during which, my knee felt 60-80% better.

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I continue to do my knee stretches every other day or so, and I’d venture a guess that the pain is 85% gone.  I get twinges behind my knee on the lateral side every now and then, and I can tell if I’m not doing my stretches for a couple days, because it gets worse and I get back to stretching.  My glute is also doing so much better, due to stretches loosening up my lower back, taking the pressure off a disc or two that are unhappy.

Overall, I’m very happy, but also kind of waiting for the pain to come back.  I’m so hopeful that the stretches are doing the trick, and it’s not the shots that made the pain go away, because once the shots wear off, I don’t want the pain to come back!

I’ve been running 20-25 miles per week now for 4-5 weeks, mostly pain free, or at least a heck of a lot less pain than before.  I’m also cycling about 30-40 miles per week, either on the cycle bikes at the gym in class or on my own beautiful little bike around home.  I know cycling is helping strengthen my legs, which definitely helps my knee, and is also helping me run stronger.

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I feel like I’ve stumbled onto some kind of magic formula… I don’t want to change my shoes.  I don’t want to stop running or cycling.  I don’t want to stop my stretches.  I feel like I’m balancing and hanging on and don’t want to chance anything!  I’ve re-evaluated my goals, and for now, I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing, and hopefully I will continue to be pain free, or at least mostly pain free while I’m at it!

I’m happy, and I’m working on getting healthy, and having my knee on board sure helps!  The real test will be the three half marathons I have coming up, one each in April, May, and June.  I’m confident that I’ll get through them, one step at a time, my knee, hopefully, on board with me!

Perspective

My post the other day, about my knee, was a pretty big pity party.  Though I am still very frustrated with the entire situation, I’ve had some changes in my perspective.

I am thankful that structurally, my knee is in tact.

I am thankful to have good, knowledgable doctors, who are committed to finding the root of my issues and helping me fix them.  I am thankful that I have good insurance.

I am thankful that I am otherwise healthy, and able to work toward fixing what is wrong with my back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and knee.  I am ready to put in the work to ensure my muscles and joints are engaging and working as they should be.

I am excited to use this injury as an opportunity for growth and improvement.  I am thankful that things are about to change in an important way.

I am trying to not think too far into the future.  I don’t know what is going to happen with my three half marathons this spring and first full marathon this fall that I’ve signed up for.  I don’t know if I will be able to run them, walk them, or have to downsize them to shorter races.  Those are issues for another time.  I don’t know about my goals for 2016, they may have to change – it’s too soon to tell.  And if they change, so be it; it’s not the end of the world.  For now, I’m going to do the exercises and stretches that my chiropractor prescribed, and when I’m released to run again, I’m not going to worry about miles or speed; I’m going go in inch by inch.

I know the road will be bumpy, and windy, and slow going, but I’m glad I am on the road to begin with.  I’m thankful for an amazing support system of family, friends, readers, and running buddies.  I know that my situation could be much worse, and I’m embracing my opportunities.

I am still frustrated, don’t get me wrong, but I am tired of being sorry for myself about it.  I am ready to get better, to be stronger and happier and healthier than before, and to run again without pain.

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