My knee brace doesn't match my outfit: What I learned from my first Half Marathon
I started running my senior year of high school. And by "running" I mean I struggled to run a 10:30 mile. I had only run my first mile ever the year before, when I was 16. We were forced to run 4 laps the football field (which equaled 1 mile) at an early morning drill team practice to increase our stamina for high kicks. (Thanks, Ms. T;) As I called my mom on my way to school (still gasping for air) I informed her that I felt like Forest Gump...I just kept running and running and running...
I never thought I could like running. I was a kid with scoliosis and asthma. I vividly remember doing Pacerin elementary and middle school, which I can only describe as pure torture, and swearing that I would never run again once I "passed".
That all changed when I went to college. A dancer for 11 years, I didn't have those scheduled classes anymore and my only regular exercise was walking across Baylor's campus to and from my dorm room. This is when I really discovered running! Baylor has what they call the "Bear Trail" which is an awesome running area around campus. Fast forward to my spring semester in 2011 and I ran my first race- a 5k in a whopping 29 minutes. Almost 2 years later, in spring of 2013, I would train and run my first 10k race and complete it in 58 minutes.
Knowing that I wanted to step up my game, I decided to run a half marathon in 2015 as one of my New Year's Resolutions. Having trained for a "pretend" half the year before, I didn't see problem with it. I use(d) the Nike Training app which does a great 12 week program. Around week 9/12 my knees started to bother me, specifically after the first 12 mile run of the program. I took 2 weeks off, hoping that I could nurse it enough to be able to compete in the Big D Half, the race I had signed up for 3 months prior.
Long story short, my knee began bothering me around mile 4 of the race and I slowed my jog to a walk around mile 6 and completed in 3 hours...about 40 minutes longer than I had hoped. I was completely devastated. Quite frankly it took me a while to sit down and write this post because I was so upset. I cried most of the race day, as well as the following week.
I have self-diagnosed myself with Runner's Knee and haven't run since race day at the beginning of April. I just started working out and conditioning this week, but hope to be back to running soon. Fitness is such a fad these days, so I thought I'd share what I learned from my first big race in hopes that it would encourage and help someone out there!
1) Stretching is important --I'm a naturally limber person, so I didn't stretch as much as a should have, which probably contributed to my Runner's Knee. It doesn't matter how flexible you are, just do it! I aim for 3-4 times a day-in the morning, at night, and pre+post workout.
2)Listen to your body -- The week leading up to my 12 miler, my hip flexors were killing me, this should have caused me to stretch more. Also, I knew there was something wrong during my run and I probably should have cut my 12 mile run short. My knee probably wouldn't have been as messed up if I had listened to my body and rested. This also means eating right! You shouldn't go to bed hungry. Be sure to eat your proteins and drink tons of water, so you don't pass out or begin to burn muscle.
3)Cross-train -- I honestly slacked on this portion and when I am cleared to train for another race, I certainly won't forget it. Next time I'm going to do more yoga, which would count for cross-training and would help with stretching. That'd be killing two birds with one stone!
4)Support is crucial -- Running with a buddy is good, but if you don't have that, even an accountability partner is a good idea! It's a lot easier to run when you don't feel like it and you know someone will ask you about it. It is also helpful if you do injure yourself! People who speak words of life often help even when there is pain.
5)It's okay to walk -- I was always the person who was not going to walk during a race at all. Because why would you sign up for something you couldn't do? I was humbled when I had to walk most of my race and guess what? It didn't matter! My sweet boyfriend actually stopped his race and walked with me the rest of the way. Here was our after-the-race pic.
6)It's not about the time -- While it's good to set goals, it's okay if you don't make your set time. Also, don't compare yourselves to others' time. You just do your best!
7)If you finished, you won -- I managed to run the last tiny portion of the half, just so I could "run" across the finish line. I did it crying from disappointment and pain, but I was also faster than anyone chilling on their couch that morning. I was flabbergasted at how many people were "proud of me", as I felt like a failure.
8)It's okay if your knee brace doesn't match your outfit -- I'm still using KT tape and my knee brace and a lot of the times it doesn't match my outfit and draws attention to it. But, if I want to race again, and I do, then I have to do what's best for my body...even if it isn't in style!
9)How I am coping with Runner's Knee -- If you're hurting, let the pain subside before doing any physical activity. Ice the area 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off 3-5 times a day. It also helps to take an ice cube and rub it directly around the kneecap for a few minutes. Use elevators instead of stairs whenever possible. Use a foam roller under your thighs and calves, on the top of your thighs, and most importantly, along your IT Band/the side of your leg. Upon injury, see your chiropractor for realignment, which can speed the healing process. Learn how to apply your own KT Tape. Invest in a supportive knee brace. Take Glucosamine Supplements. Condition and cross-train with deep stretching and yoga. Do squats and wall sits to strengthen your knees. Try using Essential Oils, like this one. Get more supportive shoes and/or inserts. Don't give up! You have to give it time. I'm planning on not running for at least another 3-4 weeks so that it will heal it self.
Other fun facts: This and this are my favorite protein bars. I put a mixture of this and water in my hand-held bottle for long runs. I rub this on my neck, shoulders and knees before a run. I swear by this pandora station while working out. My runs are terrible if I don't have this prior. I prefer to wear this brand.(surprise, surprise;)
I love running- the feeling it gives me, as well as the results. Have any questions? I'd love to help! If you have any tips, feel free to leave those too! I'm always welcoming new ideas. Happy running!
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II Timothy 4:7
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