ITBS, to be specific.
After a long season of running, that has varied, but not really stopped, since my half-marathon training for Pittsburgh way back in May, my body is finally tired of this. Starting two weeks ago, when 14mile run marked the beginning of my taper for the Stomp the Grapes half, I had some knee pain that faded as soon as I stopped running. I dismissed that as soreness, the product of a long season, but the pain was very immediate and very hard on me. Last week it cropped up whenever I ran fast, or occasionally when I got near the end of a more moderate paced workout. I dropped a day of tempo running from last Friday, asked Steph to drive back from Pittsburgh, and ran my Sunday 6.5 miles in Pittsburgh at a way below my capability, honest to god slow run, pace. It didn’t rear its head, and I thought I had it licked.
Last night, it demonstrated it was back, and that it wasn’t just random. I did a 5 mile run home from the gym in 45 minutes, and at about 1 mile, my knee started to ache, just below and outside of the left knee cap. I spent the rest of the run nursing it, telling myself it wouldn’t happen Saturday, telling myself that I could run through it, modify my stride, or something.
In other words, lying to myself.
At about 4 miles, it was bad enough that I had to stop, twice. After that, I finished out the last mile with it constantly lurking in my mind, and twinging every few hundred yards.
A quick call to Mom-in-Law & Running Advisor Sherry validated what I feared; this is the much maligned ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome). Ilio means pelvis, tibia is the bone in your lower leg, and the IT band is the rope of muscle stretching up your outer thigh connecting them. I’m not normally much of a self-diagnostician. If something is wrong with me, I don’t consult WebMD. I either ignore it, nurse it, or go to a doctor. But Sherry’s guess that it is ITBS makes a lot of sense. Two of the causes line up with me; end of a long training season, runs on graded roads, facing traffic. The pain description also jives. It arises on runs, fades quickly when I stop, acute pain that leaves little or no soreness, appears right at the pinpoint where the ITB meets the tibia.
I don’t have time to consult a doctor before this race, and I still want 1:xx:xx for Saturday. My run last night, aside from the apparently-ITB pain, was really manageable, and I know my fitness is in a place to run this race for my goal. I’m taking today and tomorrow off, I’m performing ITB stretches like recommended (3 stretches, 3 times each, 3 times daily is my goal) and I’m hoping that I’m not already too late.If this torpoedoes my sub 2, I will live, but I really want to make this happen. After the race though, I’m going to drop my mileage to 15 miles a week or less, and focus on weight lifting more through the winter.
Nobody ever thinks of themselves as the kind to get injured. I trained slow, increased responsibly, and have given my body my fullest attention. Now I’m here, wondering if I’m going to fail my goal because of an injury that I just plain didn’t see coming. I don’t know what more I could have done, or how much smarter I could have been, but I’m second guessing every step I took for the past month. Every box I picked up, every physical task I undertook, every set of stairs I walked.
I’m feeling pretty low.