The first thing to do was decide if my knee pain had any urgent or deteriorating qualities to it. A couple of days of evaluation lead me to conclude that it was reasonable to try to run. I still wanted to adhere to my workout plan as much as possible, though. So, the next day I swam half an hour against the current, then rode the spinning bike for 75 minutes. I even did some power intervals (as suggested in this book). I had random achy twangs in the knee, but felt basically strong and stable.
The following day I had a long run scheduled. I had worked up to 7 miles for the prior week’s “long” run, so wanted to try to run 8 miles this time. However, I knew I needed to take it a step at a time. My Wilson Springs loop, about .93 miles, seemed like a good, adjustable course.
The temperature was about 38° (Fahrenheit), but the pavement was dry and the sun was shining. Since I knew that feedback from bare feet is uniquely helpful, I took off my Moc3’s. I would run it one loop at a time.
For the first lap, I struggled to find a warm-up pace that didn’t aggravate my knee. I knew from past experiences that a quicker pace can feel better, but my muscles would appreciate some time to activate before I got going toooo fast. By the end of lap 2, I had loosened up AND found an nonpainful rhythm!
As I tried to analyze my success, I came up with the following factors.
- I was avoiding landing into my steps, but was instead already feeling the movement into the next stride by the time the foot made contact with the ground.
- This was aided by thinking about leading with my hips. I wasn’t leaning, so much as creating a line of propulsion with my mind.
- It also made me more naturally quicken my pace, but not enough to push me past my current level of stamina. It felt like I was going faster, but with little increase in effort. My Garmin validated this.
- I kept my knees relatively bent and able to automatically recoil from each step.
- In doing these things, I ended up a bit more on my mid-foot, but not on my toes. IN fact, I was being very careful NOT to overuse my toes, which are still less tough than the rest of my feet, due to recovering from frost nip.
Paying constant attention to how my soles and toes felt, I completed my 8 miles feeling great! I was less tired than after the 7 miles the previous week. The knee problem was non-existent for the last 6 miles. I did not lose any skin or get any blisters, but the asphalt is not the roughest I have run on.
Just as importantly, the knee was barely noticeable for the rest of the day. I did not do any stretching, but did make sure to keep it moving and bending, like I had been doing. After a hot bath, I massaged my major leg muscles, but not the joint areas.
Everything felt fine most of the next day, too. Except when I rode the spinning bike for 45 minutes, it complained some. I made that go away with some slight adjustments in waist-to-knee-to-foot angles. I also still had occasional trouble with level walking and going downstairs, but limping made it hurt worse. Going upstairs presented no issues. During swimming, I completely forgot about it.
Two days after the firs test, I was ready to try another run. This time, I was going to be led around town by my 16 year old daughter as part of her long distance track workout. For this, 4 miles followed by 8 x 100 meter intervals, I anticipated a wide variety of tough road conditions. I put on my Moc3’s.
I wondered if I would be able to find the same painless form. I found it faster by concentrating on what it had felt like before. Even with a constantly changing pace (traffic signals, undulating path), I was without discomfort for most of the run! The 8 x 100 meter speed workout was not affected by the knee, either, though the quads are feeling well used as I write. 🙂
A day later, I am sitting on an airplane, after doing airport walking. My knee has been totally pain free. I can only conclude that all of my activity made it stronger and more flexible. Rest is certainly appropriate for some kinds of pain,but it appears that even rigorous activity can be good for pain in other cases.