Add me to the growing list of injured runners in the area. My running has taken a hit in the past month, ever since the Rouge-Orleans ultramarathon relay in mid-Febrauary. It started with a painful ankle in the week after that race. I ran every day that week, and my ankle was very painful for the first couple of miles of each run before it settled down and felt better. But ten days after the race, my IT band began experiencing discomfort 4 miles into a run. It progressed to quite a bit of pain by the end of that 6 mile run. Through some Google sleuthing, I determined that the ankle pain was due to posterior tibialis tendonitis, and ITB issues are a very common partner to that ankle pain. I saw Gloria Wall at GO Physical Therapy who gave me some ankle exercises to help alleviate that pain and hope that it would in turn help with the IT band problem. I subsequently ended my 57 day running streak in the hopes that the rest would help me to get through the Mississippi 50 the following weekend. Although my ankle pain was no longer a problem, my IT band pain was so bad that it forced me to DNF at mile 20 of the Mississippi 50 and I was dejected.
I made an appointment with a doctor so I could get a referrel for some physical therapy to get on the road to recovery. In the meantime I did run the Forge Racing Headhunter 10K, otherwise known as the Headhunter Duathalon, and was able to get through it without a ton of pain. I managed to finish 13th overall and really enjoyed hitting those trails and getting wet and dirty with all the other runners. However, that night and the next day, I experienced some of my worst knee pain, and walking was a chore. Just bending and straightening my knee was excruciating and I knew something had to be done.
I went to see Gloria on Wednesday, and she scraped my IT band to begin the process of breaking up the scar tissue that had formed. The entire IT band was tight and had adhered to the skin. She left a nice bruise on my leg from just above my knee and up about 6 inches. She said that I could run to tolerance, but it was critical that I ice afterwards. That evening, the beautiful spring weather had me itching to run, so I did a quick 2 miler at about 7:15 pace, without much pain. I made sure to ice afterwards, and I didn’t feel too bad that evening or the next day, so I was happy. Friday morning, I decided to run a similar 3-miler. But the pain returned and I had to bail at mile 1.75. I returned to physical therapy that morning and got ultrasound, massage, electrical and ice therapy on my IT band.
I was feeling a bit better that afternoon and really wanted to run on Saturday morning. That evening, I made up my mind to go run something the next day, whether it was a loop on the Comite trails or with the Varsity Sports group. However, as the evening progressed, my knee felt worse and worse. By that night, I was once again in pain just walking. So I scrapped those running plans and slept in. Saturday morning, my knee still hurt a lot, and walking a few blocks to the St. Patrick’s Day parade was painful. I was mentally fried at this point. All I want to do is be able to run, and I can’t even walk without a limp.
Somehow the pain subsided after the parade (must have been the beer) and I did manage to ride my mountain bike pretty hard around my neighborhood to get some sort of workout in. It’s not the same as running for me, but at least it was something, so my mental makeup was a little better that evening. I spent some quality time with my kids, and we camped out in the backyard Saturday night, so I was able to get my mind of it for a little while.
I took Sunday off entirely, and headed to PT early Monday morning. Again, I got ultrasound therapy before having my IT band scraped and massaged. Gloria said that even if I couldn’t feel the progress, it was definitely there. She was able to grab the skin above my knee and pull it away from my leg, something she couldn’t do last week since it was basically adhered to the IT band with scar tissue. There’s still swelling where it attaches below the knee, but the blood flow should be greatly increased, which will definitely aid in the healing process. So at least I know that there is some progress happening, even if I can’t feel it or go run. I’ve decided to take this week off running entirely. A 2 mile run isn’t going to help my fitness, and could set me back instead. I’ll try to ride my bike some to get a good sweat in though.
One thing that I’ve learned is that you don’t truly appreciate your health until you can’t do something. I’m used to running 5, 6, 8, or even 10 miles a day, and now I can’t just head out the door and do that. It’s very frustrating to me, and gets worse and worse with each passing day. Patience is not a virtue that I’ve been blessed with. When I want something, I want it now. So a slow healing process doesn’t sit well with me. But as they say, it is what it is. I’ve got to learn to deal with it. But I’m ready to be healthy again, and get back to doing what I love. I’ve got some great races this summer (Oak Mountain Trail Marathon in May and Leadville Trail Marathon in late June), so I’ve got to get healthy so I can train for them.
Have you had experience with an injury that set you back? What did you do to heal your mental health while you couldn’t run? Any other IT band sufferers out there with tips?