"What the ITB does, is that it stabilizes the knee both in extension and in partial flexion and is therefore used constantly during walking and running. This is a real common injury generally with runners and cyclists as well, and is developed by people who suddenly increase their level of activity."
- quoted from wikipedia.com.. look up "IT BAND"..
Now that I got that out of the way, guess what? I fit in that category of increasing level of activity. As I was training last summer, I was steadily increasing my mileage every week, or at least was trying my hardest to. I didn't think much of it at first when I would run out on the "flats" in my neighborhood loop that the back of my leg would catch, or feel like it was locking up. So, I'd stop and stretch then move on. It wouldn't bother me again throughout the duration of my run, so I just assumed it was that I didn't stretch well enough. Ok, problem solved, I stretch more. Well, it worked for awhile, then my leg would catch again. Again, I didn't think much of because as I was training, my miles were increasing. By mid October, I was up to comfortably running 17 miles at a time and averageing a 10-1030 pace. For me, I wasn't to worried about pace since this was my first marathon I was training for, I just wanted to run it, finish it, and do a "IN YOUR FACE" thing to those who didn't think I could do it. On the flipside of this, my short distance pace was improving as well. I figured for the marathon, I could hold about a 1030-1045 pace, and for the most part, I did. In the middle of the White Rock Marathon, around mile 4, I had to "routinely" stop and stretch my left leg out again, and then it never bothered me again for the rest of the race. It wasn't until around mile 12ish, which is when I got out to the lake that my left knee was starting to aggravate me some. Like the inexperienced runner I was, I didn't think much of it, and just brushed it off. My "seasoned" running friends have always said, or told me directly that injuries do occur in races. Rather it's a 5k or a marathon, you will experience some kind of pain. With that in mind, I kept moving.
Again, little did I know, I had injured my IT Band. After seeing the doctor, who diagnosed it as bursitis, the inflammation was about the size of a golf ball on the side of my knee. The doctor recommended a shot to relieve the inflammation and then go about doing simple recovery workouts and strengthen up the mucsles. I opted out on the injection, because I personally felt that the pain, to me, wasn't serious enough for that. So, I took the docs advice and sidelined my running. He said, I still could, but not at the distances I was doing before. With my ITB being weak, it also meant that my hip(s) were weak as well. For the next 4 weeks I went through some rounds of my own "therapy". From working my hip muscles, to cycling, and running what I could before my leg acted up. You name it, I did it. Leg presses, extensions, curls, kickbacks, hip abductors, hip adductors, I did them all. I also did a lot more stretching. I even invested in a leg roller. I can tell you those things WORK.. http://www.thestick.com/ .. get you one!
This passed week, I made my follow up appointment with the sports doc about my leg. I am happy to say, that I have made some serious improvements. When I run, my knee doesn't bother me like it did that day out on the marathon course, or any other time I failed to mention before about my runs. I still get the issue of my left leg catching or locking up in the back, but that used to happen at around mile 3. It now happens around mile 5. So, I'm heading in the right direction, just not quite 100% yet. For the record, this injury has been the best thing to happen to me. I'm crazy enough to say, but also I say it with confidence too.
I am very blessed and fortunate to have a sports doctor like I had that not only understands me as a runner, but he IS a runner himself. He understood my injuries to the "T". He also gave me some the best advice that I have to say has given me such peace of mind as well. For the spring of this year, I had planned to run the Cowtown Marathon in February, the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in March, and then finish up the spring season by running the Big D "Texas" Marathon. I think the one main reason why I injured myself was because I stressed out over the training. I had all year (2011) to prepare for it, and I knew I wanted to run it. I had the miles in, but my body wasn't adjusted like it should have. I halfway decided, then eventually made the notion to sit out Cowtown altogether, but I had my heart set out for the Rock n Roll Half, because I enjoy the 13.1 mile distance, and I could pick up a PR at that race. With Big D, well.. Long story short, I had "originally" planned to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon at the end of April, but with my wife and I moving in April, I had to save money by sitting OKC out and doing something closer to home. Big D fit the bill, because it was in Dallas, and pretty much the same route as the White Rock marathon. Only difference between the 2, was that this one was in the spring, so the warmer weather would have played a big role. Now, I've heard enough horror stories in the past about Big D, but I wanted to get another marathon in before the summer season hit and it got too hot.
This is where the sacrifice comes in. Was it worth it?
Again, this question was asked. As I told my doctor about the races I had planned, he highly encouraged me to drop them all. Without hesitation, I humbly agreed. In my short career so far as a runner, one thing I have always been faithful about doing is listening to the experienced runners. Some of the best advice ever given to me came from you guys. You know who you are, so stand up now and take a bow or pat yourself on the back. For now with this injury, I can go 5 miles comfortably before my leg acts up. Today, I have no problems with the knee, just the back of my leg still catches from time to time. I remedied this by stretching, still cross training, and lots of hip and knee workouts. One friend suggested I walk backwards on the treadmill. Embarrassing as it may sound, it's helped!! Thanks Lynn :-)
So why was this sacrifice worth it? Well duh, it's an injury. Sometimes it takes being sidelined to get recovered. KIDDING!! Yes indeed, this sacrifice of sitting out my races this season was worth it. Without a doubt, it was worth it. Here recently, as I was battling with my injury, my wife Stacie even noticed a problem with me. Some nights when she would come home from school, she would question me of why I didn't go to the gym. I would tell her I didn't feel like and that I was just too tired to go, and wanted to rest. She knew me better than that. I didn't realize this injury and my inability to run was affecting her too. I admit, for a while I was in a funk. I put on a really good "game face" to hide it, but she saw right through me. With a little chat, and lots of encouragement from her, and prayer, I got back on the horse and went back to training. Another reason for sacrificing my races, by May, we will be moving into our new home. We are uberly excited about this as well. We're getting all the arrangements from deposit to first/last months rent, movers, packing, etc. made for the next chapter for us. It's a lot more spacious, has a second floor, and not as congested as our current place of residence. Pics to follow when we move in.
With all this, I leave with saying, that sometimes it's ok to be injured. One of my last two blogs I wrote, I mentioned how the road, the track, and sometimes the trails know me, they still do. I just don't get the spend as much time with them as I want at this point. Right now, I'm still in "soul search" mode, and I think I'll be in that mode for the rest of my life. From the very first time, and every time since then that I have set foot out on the road for a run, there is no doubt that I am free. One friend put it best about another runner friend of mine, that you look so "free and spirited".. I like that! My next race, I'm putting those words into action. As a contribution to my sacrifice, I've learned to pay it forward more. While I won't be at the starting line of the Rock n Roll half in March, I will be on the sidelines cheering as the talented runners embark the course of Dallas, Texas and reach for whatever goal they wish to attain, rather it's a PR, or like myself 2 years ago, a chance to accomplish a goal of running their first race. I pray for all that each runner is capable of finishing the task at hand. I also have a treat for a friend running this race. You know who are as well, but if you are running this race in March, look for a dude with a pink doo rag and a pair of running shoes around mile 9 or 10 ready to pace with you to the finish line. My dearest friend Lynn did this for me when I ran the White Rock marathon, so I would like to continue to "pass the buck" on to another. I don't know if I'll make it to cheer on my friends who are running the Big D in April, but if I just happen to be there, around mile 20 or so, and you need some motivation to finish that last 10k onto the finish line, I will do my darnedest to be there for you..
Yes indeed... It was worth it!!