Sunday, February 12, 2006

Running / knee / fitness update (Otherwise known as... three little words that freaked me out)

I've been promising to update you about my knee and the running situation… and I’ve been procrastinating. I wanted to wait until I had some good, happy, positive news to share.

The reality is that I’m struggling (again!)

I went back to the run/walk program that Tim, my physio therapist, gave me. Once you can walk pain-free for 30 minutes, you go to walking for 4.5 minutes and running for 30 seconds. You repeat that six times for a total time of 30 minutes.

Each time, you decrease the walking by 30 seconds and increase the running by 30 seconds, until finally, you’re up to 30 minutes of just running.

Tim told me to try it for a couple of weeks and then go back and see him. There was some swelling not only in my knee, but also in my lower leg during that appointment a few weeks ago. He said, “Hhhmmm…. That’s weird. That shouldn’t be happening. I’ve never seen that before.”

“Thanks, Tim. I feel like a freak of nature now.”

He smiled quietly and sent me on my way to try out the new program, telling me to keep my knee taped only when I do the walk/run program.

I followed instructions. Diligently. As usual.

I got as far as 3 minutes of walking and 2 minutes of running. Knee and lower leg still swollen… every day… I considered taking Ibuprophen, but since Tim said to try and stay away from drugs, I just kept icing.

When I finally went back to him last week, I was a little surprised. I asked, “How long does patellofemoral syndrome usually take to heal?”, I asked (using the name he’d taught me for what’s wrong with my knee).

“Four to six weeks”.

We’re now working on about ten weeks.

“So... I’m slow.” I said. He nodded… non-judgmentally.

He seemed concerned about my lower leg and started prodding around.

“Does that hurt?”




“There? On the bone?”

“Well, whatever you’re touching, it doesn’t feel good.”

He frowned.

I’ve never seen Tim frown before.

He said, “I’m not a doctor, and so I can’t make a diagnosis…”

My ears perked up… In my experience, when someone with as much insight and knowledge as this pro has starts a sentence with something like that, I know they’re probably right, and just need to cover their butt… So… I said, “Yes…?”

“Well, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a…”

Then I heard three little words that made me want to spontaneously vomit:

“… possible stress fracture.”

He went on to tell me that the only way to tell would be with a bone scan and asked me to go see my doctor to get a referral to a sports medicine specialist.

Lucky for me, the university has an entire sports medicine centre, seeing as how Calgary was an Olympic city, back in 1988, and lots of elite athletes still train here.

I am far from being an athlete, but I feel lucky that I live I a city where there are sports medicine specialists handy… at the very institution where I take classes.

So… off I trotted to the doctor, who (having been Ironman athlete herself, along with being the best g.p. on the globe, as far as I'm concerned) is not convinced it is a stress fracture, but referred me to the sports med specialist anyway.

Until then… I’m back to icing… I can do the walk/run program with not more than 1 minute of running… providing it doesn’t hurt. If it hurts, I must stop.

All of this requires me to tune into my body and what hurts when.

We know I’m not good at that.

I tried to really listen to my body on Thursday… and ended up at the end of the track, quietly bawling my eyes out. Frustration and "feeling" were a bit overwhelming, I guess... and I just lost it. I’m glad I was alone up there and no one was around to witness that stellar display of pathetic wimpiness.

I am starting to think that perhaps life was easier when I was grossly overweight, with no body awareness whatsoever! Now I “feel” my body – what it is doing, if and where it hurts and what it is trying to “tell” me -- more than ever before in my life… and most of it is not pleasant.

I have asked Chris, my trainer, to give me a weight training program what will cover me for six days. I was doing a 3 day split of cardio (walk/run) and another 3 days of weights. The running has become too frustrating… and truth be told (swallowing any ounce of pride I had left…) it hurts. So, I will try focusing on gaining strength for now.

I haven’t given up on running. I won’t give up… not yet, anyway. I will try to focus on activities that I like and that seem good for me. So far, my body hasn't rebelled with injuries against weights, so I'll keep going with those. (No worries... I've no intention of becoming some big, hairy "he-girl"... I doubt Chris would design me a program like that anyway... Or here's hoping!)

I’ll keep you updated on how things go...


Anvilcloud said...

I figure that running is good for the heart but bad for the bones. Keep doing what you're doing -- not pushing it, listening to your body.

Amber said...

Awww Sarah, I'm sorry ... that is a complete bummer. Hoping that the scan reveals the issue and that they can find a quick way to get this issue resolved so you can get back to optimum health and run and/or walk without pain.

Granny said...

Darn it. I'll be thinking about you.

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

I'm sorry, that's bad isn't it? I hope it isn't anything too serious. I'm glad the doctor didn't say the C word! Knees are funny things and very hard to heal if they ever conpletely do.

My left knee is acting up also, but I think it's arthritis. A family conplaint.

Good luck with that knee!


ipodmomma said...

so glad you have really good docs to go see... that's a real bonus.

hang in there, because you have done so much good positive work, and yeah, this kind of sucks, but only a blip, and you'll be out there, running, I just know it!

love and prayers to you...

robtherunner said...

Sorry to hear about your struggles Sarah, but we do like to hear the news even if it is not good news. Keep hittin those weights and I know you'll pull through.

I wish there was some way you could take my classes for me, but I could reap the learning benefit and I could run for you and you could reap the fitness. Crazy idea!

olga said...

Hope you get better soon, don't get discouraged, it is not forever. Think positive, and good luck with the scan.

D said...

This sucks! Hopefully it is not a stress fracture. It's tough to be patient at this point, isn't it. Hang in there. Congrats on getting your 2nd edition completed.

grannyfiddler said...

don't be so hard on yourself. when you feel rotten, whether it's physical, or mental, there's always a very good reason. i firmly believe there are no wimps... but there are lots of people who just haven't figured out what's making them feel the way they feel.

Joyce said...

hang in there :) it sounds like you have already come a long way!
I'm crossing my fingers that it's nothing serious :)

zouzou said...

Hang in there! Have courage, your body is not used to being challenged repeatedly as you have been doing since last fall - maybe it was thinking you'd try it out for a while and then stop ;) It will come around now that it knows you are determined to continue.
Stay strong, you will recover and bound ahead! Hugs, z

Turtle Guy said...

As you've discovered, things are not always as bad as they first appear to be. You're wonderfully strong in body, mind and spirit. You'll meet with success, I know it! ;)