I’ve had all sorts of injuries related to running and cycling since I started this endurance junky journey in 2008. Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, bruised ribs, IT Band syndrome, piriformis and soleus pain. Most other people involved in these sports all experience these from time to time. With rest, stretching, and therapy they usually all go away. I had a bad bout of plantar fasciitis I was dealing with from November 2013 thru July 2014. I ran four marathons, one 50k, an ironman ( I walked most of that) and quite a few shorter races thru the PF pain. I found compression on the arch by using a Feetures PF sleeve helped dampen the pain so I could make it thru 26.2 miles. I never have been accused of being smart when it comes to recovery. I never rested my foot long enough for this problem to heal because I always had a race on the schedule or friends would invite me to an event that sounded fun. I just dealt with the dull pain and hoped it would go away.
In July of 2013 I was forced to rest my legs but not by choice. One night while coming down the stairs to bed I tripped over some of the kids stuff that was left on the stairs on the right side rather than the left side where their stuff usually was. My body position when I hit the stained concrete floor was leaning forward, knees bent back, all my 175 lbs landing directly on my knee caps. Needless to say I was lying on the floor writhing in pain and my bride and kids came running when they heard my yell of pain.
X-rays and MRI showed no damaged other than normal wear and tear of a 52 year old. I was told to just rest for several weeks and the swelling would go down. I had already entered two of my favorite races, the River Cities Sprint Triathlon, and the Hotter n Hell Triple Threat. 6 weeks later those events had past without me participating and my right knee remained swollen. I must admit I did not totally rest my legs, I’d try to ride the bike some or jog a little which probably caused the swelling to stay. In mid November my Doctor was able to get some fluid out of the knee on his third try. The previous two attempts were halted after he had stuck me at three different locations under the knee cap and I could not take the pain. After fluid was removed he injected steroids to reduce the inflammation. It was like a miracle. I had more range of motion back in my knee after a few days. I was finally able to start running again without pain. In the 4 months off I had gotten into terrible running shape and weight had increased to 187 lbs. I was ecstatic I could run again and during all that rest my PF was completely gone.
The Dallas Marathon was a few weeks away and it was clear to me I should/could not run it. Luckily I had not already paid the entry fee as it got cancelled anyway due to an ice storm (see the BQ or Bust post). I had however, already registered for the Houston Marathon and Rocky Raccoon 50 mile race ( my first 50 miler). I thought I might still be able to do both those races so I drastically increased my weekly mileage mixing in a very slow FW Running Company marathon in mid December then the New Years Eve/Day double marathon. My buddy Lee ran both
of these with me as he was also training for the Rocky 50 and I convinced him they were great training opportunities. After the double marathon we were both questioning this reasoning as being sound.
My right knee was still holding up great. I had just run back to back marathons with absolutely no knee pain Then I took the Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers fitness challenge. This challenge had you do a different exercise every day that worked a different muscle group. It included a day of air squats and a day of lunges. I got behind schedule and did all the squats then all the lunges at one time in the second week. The next day my knee was swollen again, range of motion gone, and pain when running returned. Back to the Dr I went, another failed knee drain but he was able to inject the steroid again. I inquired his opinion of what was going on. It was his opinion that the fall had crushed some of the cartilage under my knee cap causing bone on bone friction and inflaming the joint. The inflammation caused the fluid build up which caused the joint to function incorrectly which caused the running pain. This wouldn’t necessarily show up on the MRI or X-ray. It was permanent damage and my days of doing lunges and squats and dead lifts were over (believe it or not I actually enjoyed dead lifts and squats). Since the running hadn’t seemed to aggravate it he thought I should be back running and cycling soon. I thought about some of my friends who weren’t so lucky they had degenerative knee and hip issues that ended their running career. I can not tell you how many people I talk to thru daily life that say they are not able to run because of bad hips or knees. The running and triathlon community takes this for granted because usually when these people end their running career we rarely interact with them again. Always be thankful your body allows you to be active.
I was then able to train and race through most of the spring and summer without knee pain. I did have some knee issues at the Rocky 50 but I think they were unrelated as the knee pain was behind my knee after I had slid in mud and hyper extended the knee.
I thought I had finally gotten thru the injury. In August our group of friends raced the River Cities triathlon. I was so happy to be there again after missing racing it with all my buddies last year. I had a great race, then we stuck around for the post race party and awards as many of us received age group awards. On the way back to my car, walking mind you, my knee popped and locked up several times. This was concerning but I hoped it might go away the next day.
I didn’t have any issues the following week. But I did start having bad days every once in a while when the knee would be in pain but I could run thru it. And suddenly it would be better the next week and I could run normally. Later in August
my buddy Jeff crashed on his bike separating his shoulder and breaking a bone in his elbow. He was going to be out several weeks, the Hotter n Hell 100 was out for him and Ironman Chattanooga was in question. I knew all to well how he felt about missing the good times at the races and it reminded me of how I felt the previous year when I had missed so many events.
At the end of August my friend Michelle had this great idea she read about to do a metric ironman to prepare us for the running vigors of the full ironman. I think I made 8 miles into the run portion before I started having knee issues and had to start taking walking breaks. At 10 miles she yanked off her HR strap and slowed down so luckily I could somewhat keep up with her and Jason. We all decided to end the run early, me with knee issues and Michelle and Jason due to struggling in the heat.
So here I am, four weeks out to IM Chattanooga, I still have knee issues. My knee had swollen from the metric ironman. This was going to suck to have knee issues during my “A” race I’d only spent the last 6 months training for. I remember my friend Erin had contacted me when I first had my knee injury to see if she could help. Erin is a LMT who I had never used before because she is too far away and I like my local LMT. Erin uses deep tissue technique that focuses on muscle attachments to improve function. She thought this might help my knee track properly and relieve my problem. I contacted Erin and said I was ready for her to work her magic but I had to go get the steroid injection first. She ordered me to take a day off from training after the treatment but I will never forget how incredible my legs felt when I was able to run a day later. I literally felt like I was 20 years old. Things were looking up for the Ironman.
The moral of this story:
1) If you don’t rest an injury it is never going to heal.
2) Always be thankful you are able to be active. There are many others that physically can’t and wish they were in your shoes.
3) Sometimes you can work thru permanent damage. You may be inconvenienced but you can still enjoy your passion.