The Edge of Glory…and Injury

I was all set. I was in, and pumped to run my first full marathon in the city where I live and love…New York. I had been running regularly for over a year, doing local races for fun, trying to set personal records, and had already completed an 18 mile race with plenty of hills to boot. And now…I was IN.


Shortly after I qualified, I began to feel a strange pain in my right knee, usually the day after a long run or race (my definition of a long run or long race is over 6 miles. I know the term ‘long run’ is relative for everyone when it comes to running). I would feel pain on the inside of my right knee, just below the kneecap.  The pain began to become more persistent. It was sporadic though. One day I would run a half-marathon, and afterwards it would be totally fine. A week later I would go for a 6 mile training run and it would hurt the next day.  However, it was time…I was IN and had to start my training program. The first week involved my running a total of 35 miles over 7 days, with the longest run being about 12 miles. I never felt so much pain after that week. It hurt to go down stairs, up stairs, and sometime just to walk. My knee was f***ed.

I saw a doctor. Turns out I have something called patella-femoral syndrome, or what is commonly referred to as runner’s knee. My doctor suggested I take up swimming and turn in my shoes. I wish this had a happy ending, and that I could say i turned it all around and am now back on my training to complete the marathon and pain-free, but that is not the case. Perhaps the happy ending is that I did not do long-term damage or permanent damage to my knee. AWhat stopped the pain? My ability to recognize ‘hey, maybe my body was not made to be running this much distance on such tough surfaces.’ I finally stopped running, and have done no running since my first week of training for the marathon, which was over a month ago at this point.

I am also doing physical therapy exercises to help the patella to track properly. It has been over a month and this is the first week since I stopped running that I have been completely pain-free when walking on stairs or doing other forms of cardio (yes, even spin and rowing was hurting my knee at one point!).

So when is enough enough? Some people run and run and run and never have a problem. The same can be said of lifting weights, playing a sport, and nearly anything and everything in-between. I think some bodies are just better suited for various things than others. And so, with a heavy heart, I am out of the marathon. I had to stop and ask myself why I was so compelled to run a marathon in the first place. Was it just to say I had run the NYC marathon, or even just to be able to say I had completed a marathon? The answer was simply yes. Running the marathon was not going to make me healthier, and because of my knee issue, it certainly was not going to make me stronger.  I wanted to run it for vanity–just to say I had completed the marathon.

Every time I see I client, at the beginning of a training session, I always ask how they are feeling, how their body feels, and how their day has been or is going.  The client’s feedback is important in knowing whether I can put them through the session I have in mind, or if we have to modify their exercises on that given day.  Nobody is always at 100 percent; we need to be able to listen to our bodies and treat them well, and that is the most valuable lesson of all.  Anybody can train you until you drop, make you feel overheated, exhausted, and so fatigued that it hurts to get up and down for a week, but remember–training also builds a skill–and if you are just going to look good and don’t really care about your overall health, you may not really be taking the time to listen to your body, and you could end up doing more damage than good.  In this case, I had to apply the rule to myself, and though I wanted to run the marathon, it’s just not in the cards, and I will be just as strong regardless of whether I complete 26.2 miles in one full swoop.

Now…time to get to the gym for a swim.  🙂