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Road to Recovery: The Plan

Thank you all for not dismissing me as a spoiled, whiny brat after my last post. (And if you thought it, thanks for at least keeping it to yourself). I appreciated every single comment, as well as the reality checks some of you gave me – even if you didn’t know you were doing it at the time.

After a little bit of self-reflection, it became pretty clear that I kept sinking into despair about this bum knee of mine because I didn’t really have a plan. Instead, I was just looking down the long, seemingly endless tunnel of injury without seeing a light. But as Meggie so wisely recommended, it’s much better to take this whole injury thing day by day. As depressing as it may sound, constantly looking ahead to a time when I (might) be able to run again was just doing more harm than good. The only thing I know for certain is that I cannot run today. Which means that today, I need to do whatever I can to help myself heal.

And that means that it was time to sit down and finally work out a plan for this recovery phase of my “training.” As tempting as it is to sit on my butt and drown my sorrows in a bucket of ice cream (not that that has happened…), doing so day after day is damaging to my health and my relationships. And since I don’t really want EC to call off the wedding, I think it’s about time I pull myself together.

Road to Recovery

Step 1: The Plan

I probably don’t need to say this BUT…please remember that I am not a doctor – or any sort of medical professional. This is the plan I’ve come up with by combining some doctor’s advice with a whole lot of research. I can’t even guarantee that it’s going to work for me, so please don’t take it as advice for your own situation.

1.) Stop taking prescription anti-inflammatory medication


Okay, so I know this goes completely against the recommended treatment. Since the pain you feel when you have Runner’s Knee is caused by inflammation, it makes sense to take a drug aimed to reduce that inflammation.

However, I had been taking the pills daily for the past two and a half weeks. Although it was definitely helping my knee, I’m pretty sure it had started giving me some not-so-great side effects. I was feeling fuzzy-headed all the time, not to mention how rough the drugs were on my stomach. So I decided it was time to give myself a little break. I haven’t taken the pills for several days now, and the fuzziness in my head has completely disappeared. Whether there is actual science behind this or it’s all in my head doesn’t really matter at this point.

But, since I understand the benefits of doing something besides icing to keep the inflammation down, I decided to replace the prescription pills with a low dose of over the counter ibuprofen…for now.

2.) No running

As I mentioned a few days ago, I haven’t really allowed myself a long period of time without running at all. The runs that I have gone on have been short and slow. Which means that not only are they not really doing much for me physically (a slow 2 miles isn’t really all that effective when you’re used to running 7), but they most likely weren’t aiding my recovery either. At the moment, I’m on a minimum one week running ban, knowing full well that it could be 2 or 3 (I refuse to think further into the future than that).

3.) Learn to love the bike

Exercise bike

Even when I feel motivated to cross train, the stationary bike is my least favorite option. I find it incredibly boring and (to be honest) hard. Biking uses completely different muscles, and that seat is less than comfortable. However, since this activity seems to be the thing that irritates my knee the least, I need to suck it up and get friendly with the bike over the next couple of weeks.

4.) Ice and roll

foam rollerThis is what a foam roller looks like…in case you were wondering.

I should’ve been doing this on a regular basis anyway. The foam roller is torture, but it’s a necessary evil. Tight muscles can contribute to runner’s knee, which means that I need to make rolling a part of my regular routine even after I’m healed.

5.) Strengthen

Because weak/poorly conditioned quads and hamstrings can contribute to runner’s knee, there are specific exercises a person can do to help strengthen the muscles around it and alleviate the pain. I’m sure an actual physical therapy program would have me doing more, but for now I am starting with a select few. I’ll see where this gets me after a week or so.

The exercises I’m focusing on include these straight leg raises explained by Runner’s World, specific hamstring and quad stretches, and leg extensions.

6.) Core Work

A strong core is important for all runners. Us injured folks are no exception. Plus, if I can’t run, I might as well focus on getting a six pack, right?

7.) Stop being a baby

This is probably the most important component of my plan. I get that it’s okay to feel sad and have a little pity party for yourself when you’re injured. But I’ve been spending way more time wallowing than should be allowed. My world is not over. I do not fail as a human being. And a little bit of time off from running never killed anyone.

That’s how I’m feeling today anyway. Talk to me in a week and we’ll see how I’m doing then…


27 Responses to Road to Recovery: The Plan

  1. I am not a fan of the stationary bike either, but after you posted about this, I had to remind myself that it is often the exercises we dislike the most that can make us both mentally and physically stronger… :)
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life´s last post ..wordless wednesday.

  2. Woohoo! I know “you are not a doctor” but I may very well steal some of this plan to create my own plan (for shin splints, obviously tailored to that!)
    Lizzie´s last post ..Word Vomit

  3. Love the plan, LB. I guess I’ll do those things, too. So I have to stop being a baby now? Dang it. Do I also have to stop eating my feelings, because that carton of PB ice cream in the freezer isn’t going to take care of itself?

    But Meggie is right. I like the day-to-day thinking because it reduces the stress of, “Will I be able to run this marathon on May 27?” I mean, that’s totally just a hypothetical example, but you know…

    Also, let’s not forget that you already have 6-pack abs and we’ve all seen them, you little sports bra runner, you.
    Ali´s last post ..My Trick For Snapping Out Of An Injury-Induced Funk (Plus A Giveaway!)

    • ummm…that was before I went on my “feeling sorry for myself-must eat all the ice cream” rampage.

  4. Hey Lauren,

    Here is the website for the chiropractor in Providence http://providencechiropractor.com/index.html his name is Aaron Salinger and he is wonderful. You can tell him I sent you, he is my friend on FB:) He totally understands the psychotic runner’s mind and he did electric stim on both of my runner’s knees and I was running double digits within 6 weeks of treatment. Please keep me posted on how it goes…you can find me on FB (friends with Becky) or just message me on my blog! Get well my friend!
    Karen´s last post ..2 More

  5. For what it’s worth, the ART doc (Runner, Ironman, Coach, on call ART guy when elites are in town) told me the term “runner’s knee” (the soccer playing ortho threw that one at me too…) is a misnomer since there are multiple things that could be messed up/strained/etc. For me, the entire root cause was scar tissue in the bursa that strained a quad muscle (the vastus lateralis) which in turn caused inflammation in my meniscus that took a long time go away. To be honest, it’s still not completely normal (once I get back in to the 60 MPW range it tightens up), but the one thing I found made a huge, huge difference is rolling the HELL out of it as well as using heat in addition to the ice. I also had about 6 weeks of running no more than a couple weeks at a time with about two weeks off COMPLETELY (no exercise whatsoever.) It sucked ass, not gonna lie. But actually forcing yourself to stick with a plan will benefit you in the long run, no irony intended.

    to that end, if you find any runners who do PT/ART it might be worth getting their thoughts on what you aggravated. And really focus on the stretching/rolling.
    AR´s last post ..It seems we have a following…

  6. Sable@SquatLikeALady

    Keep up your super positive attitude! Geez – you are really something else. =) I love that part of your plan is strengthening – obviously. haha. I am a little too predictable for my own good sometimes 😉

    Have you looked into something like the Graston technique to help heal the inflamed tissues? It might be worth a shot.

    • Thanks Sable! It’s not always positive (hence my previous post…and why I haven’t blogged much in the past few weeks), but I’m trying. For this week, anyway. Talk to me a few weeks from now and we’ll see if I’m still feeling so positive! ha

      I have not looked into Graston or ART, but it’s more out of my own stubbornness and avoidance of doctors than anything else. At this point, however, I realize that stubbornness isn’t doing anything but keeping me injured longer…

  7. Good for you for ditching the prescription meds. Have you looked at all into dietary changes? Some foods are considered inflammatory…I’m trying to cut those out because when I do, my hip feels WAY better. As for getting some exercise…have you tried the elliptical backwards? don’t crank the slope up and put the resistance at sort of moderate. It might not aggravate the knee and you could possibly get some awesome cardio in. Just check it out :)

    Good outlook…you are pretty awesome :) And you have other very exciting things on your plate right now!
    XLMIC´s last post ..Jackson Pollock was a smoker

    • I have not tried either! Though I did just buy some glucosamine chondroiton and am going to give that a shot. Hopefully it helps! I will give your elliptical recommendation a try too – thank you!

  8. I like this plan. I think making plans helps us feel in control of our injuries which takes away some of that panicky and depressed feeling.

    I am trying to do all of these things (minus the meds). I have had a little bit of grastons on my knee/itb but I am still undecided. I think I would prefer ART. I don’t think there is one way that is the best, rather different things work for different people. I think strength work and stretching is universal though.
    Josie @ happycorredora.com´s last post ..A little something different

  9. Nice plan! Instead of popping pill anti-amflamatories I got some topical stuff called pennsaid (http://pennsaid.com/). Put it right on the knee, it really did the trick. My doc gave me several sample bottles. I liked that better than popping something as well.
    kimi´s last post ..Go Shorty, It’s Ya Birthday.

  10. I have recently returned to running after taking 4 months off because of a knee injury. I was devastated and desperate to return to running. After trying everything I decided that I would try a minimalist shoe (NB minimus). I didn’t really believe in the whole minimalism thing, but as I said I was desperate and nothing else was working. I put on my new shoes and ran for the first time in months, without pain. After running for 2 months in my NB minimus shoes I did not have any knee pain, but as soon as I put my cushioning shoes on my knee pain returned. I am now running in Saucony Kinvaras for a little cushioning and have not had any knee pain.

    • That’s really interesting! I have had similar reservations about minimalist running/shoes. BUT I tried running in the Saucony Mirages a few times (the more supportive version of the Kinvara) and it felt really good…at first. The pain came back after a couple of miles, but I know a big part of my problem is just that I haven’t given my knee enough time to heal. Once it does, I’ve been thinking about transitioning into wearing the minimal shoes more often. Not sure if it will solve my problem, but it’s very interesting to hear that it worked for you (gives me a little hope!).

      Glad to hear you have been able to run without pain!

  11. Glad you have a plan — you WILL get through this and you’ll be running again before you know it. WEird about the anti-inflammatory drugs. I don’t think fuzziness is a good thing.

    You need to try some of my spin workouts! Do you have a spin bike that you can access?? I feel like it’s a MUCH better workout than just a stationary bike (they are different – I swear). I can ALMOST get a runner’s high from a spin workout. Almost.
    Michelle´s last post ..They Can Avenge Me Anytime {Marvel’s The Avengers Review}

    • Okay so I know this is ridiculous but…I’m sort of afraid to try spinning. I don’t really have a good reason for this either. I’ve just never done it and have felt totally out of my element the few times I’ve sat on a spin bike. That being said – the gym I belong to does have one that I could use, so I probably should get over myself and give it a try.

      Do you have a workout you would recommend for a(n injured) beginner?

  12. Good plan!!! I know I always, always, always feel better about things when I feel like I have SOME sort of control over the situation and while you can’t control when your leg starts feeling better, you CAN make a plan to do SOMETHING about it!

    Instead of the boring stationary bike, try a apinning class! They’re MUCH more entertaining thatn just sitting there… plus, since you’re in and out of the saddle they’re easier on your bum! :)
    Meagan @ Managing Meagan´s last post ..TIME TO MOVE!!

  13. I think having a plan of action will definitely help you. I kept going ot PT and such because it made me feel like I was doing something in the positive direction to help my injury.

    My “goals” that I wrote in my training journal for Feb, March, and April were all to “focus on the now.” I kept thinking “can I run a half on March 17” or “will I be able to run the half in Eugene?” and thinking of the “what ifs” was mentally exhausting. The RCF actually told me that I just needed to start focusing on one day at a time and when races come up to approach them at that time and what the best decision would be at that time. So, that ended up being no half on March 17 and the 5K in Eugene. Both ended up being good decisions.

    So, take it one day at a time, keep racing in the back of your midn to motivate you, but don’t have any specific races in mind that will break your heart if you don’t get to run them. Does that even make sense? Hmmm… Well, example, when I spin, I imagine myself racing. For a long time, I wasn’t even close to racing, but it helped motivate me. However, I wasn’t imagining any specific race, just a race in general, because I wasn’t sure when I’d be back to racing.

    Good luck, LB! You have a good head on your shoulders.
    Meggie´s last post ..What’s Up Wednesday

  14. Such a smart move Lauren! I was able to start running about a few weeks ago after battling tendonitis for a few months. I totally feel you on the depression, etc. When I finally decided to accept that I shouldn’t run and just needed to rest, a couple of weeks later it started to get better! I think the strength training is a great idea! Hope you are back at ’em soon! Thinking of you :-)
    Jessica M´s last post ..Strawberry Fudge, Need I Say More?

  15. P.S. I am writing this from Waterbury VT. We are here with the hubs on a business trip—I too heart VT big time. So jealous of the move!
    Jessica M´s last post ..Strawberry Fudge, Need I Say More?

  16. Injury is so beyond frustrating. I feel like I have nothing to talk about other than injury, and I couldn’t even bring myself to read my Runner’s World because it talks about RUNNING. Ugh. It’s hard not to think about the future of running because I want to plan races, and right now even getting ready for a fall marathon seems unlikely. The worst part is that I had a plan and nothing is going according to plan! When the pain gets worse instead of better…I just don’t even know what to do. I was on prescription anti-inflammatories for about a month, and eventually my gums started bleeding when I brushed my teeth, so I stopped them. Although now that the pain is worse I might take it. I haaaaate the bike and will avoid it at all costs. It’s not even fun, although I wish I liked it…or at least wish I had a bike to ride outdoors.

    A six pack is much more important than a 3:10 marathon, right? Maybe. All the crap I’m eating certainly isn’t helping.

    Sorry for the whine session…you’re in good company! Just thinking that you’re doing something to help the injury definitely gives you a mental boost even if it does nothing for the actual injury. We’ll get through this.

  17. Love the plan! I hope your one week (or more) running ban does not too hard on you. It’s impossible to describe to a non-runner how much we runners depend on our daily run to maintain all forms of sanity.
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..Toad Suck 5K- Race Report!

  18. Way to be positive and proactive girl. I think it’s a lot more helpful/beneficial to think about the things you can do in terms of recovery instead of what you can’t do. Although it takes more guts to focus on the positive, it sounds like you’re definitely reaching the right state of mind. Good job! You’re inspirational.
    Robyn´s last post ..Tacoma City Marathon Race Report

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