My bothersome knee pain whenever I increase mileage got bad enough to enlist a doctor’s advice. Before I ran the full marathon I thought I’d better make sure I wasn’t going to do some permanent damage.
The orthopedist was pretty pragmatic (my type for sure) and diagnosed my knee pain as “patellofemoral knee syndrome” with a slight chance of a stress fracture. He thought I could run through it, unless of course, I couldn’t. If it got terrible we’d do an MRI and see if it was fractured.
After running 26 miles I think it’s safe to say that his conclusion of “runner’s knee” was accurate (sans stress fracture). I’m tough but I don’t think I could keep cruising along if it was fractured. Patellofemoral knee syndrome (also aptly known as runner’s knee) is basically just inflammation. Lots of icing and taking Aleve seems to help.
I was pretty exact on following the doctor’s orders (obedience all the way!) and I do think it made a big difference. I ran the first 8 miles of the marathon without any pain (which was a big improvement over recent runs).
In clever irony when the knee pain kicked in during the Nike course I must have overcompensated something in my stride and suddenly my right leg quad felt terrible. It felt like the classic if-it’s-not-one-thing, it’s-another frustration. I’m sure I looked ridiculous hobbling along in my slow but steady gait but looking back I am so glad I powered through. The “pain is temporary, quitting is forever” mantra inspired me not to stop. Hooray for motivating slogans!
Post race I’m now more motivated to use the foam roller, stretch, and strengthen my patella so I can increase mileage in the future and not be forced to run in pain. While it’s doable to do (run in pain, that is), it isn’t fun, so I’m going to try to tackle these darn knee issues for good this time!