For most of the last week I have been struggling with runner's knee. A delayed reaction to the half marathon perhaps, I don't know. I felt amazing after the half, as you all know, with no soreness or muscle pain at all. I went for my first run after the event four days later, and felt a slight twinge in my right knee but it went away as soon as I stopped running, so I thought nothing of it. Went for another run four days later, and this time the discomfort was more noticeable. My friend the GP advised a week off, as you know. So I did that, no running, just walking - but if you know me, you know I don't walk slowly, and I always take the stairs and walk down and up the escalators at the tube stations. So I kept doing all those things, and did lots of walking last weekend, with no problems.
But then I walked home on Monday evening, and started feeling very sore. I was going to put some ice on the knee when I got in, but it felt fine once I stopped and sat down, so I just took an Ibuprofen and got on with my night.
Monday night/early Tuesday morning I woke up because 1) some wino was smashing our recycling up (didn't realise that's what it was until I went outside the next morning and found our steps and part of the pavement covered in glass!) and 2) my knee was twitching! Twitching like nobody's business!
Next morning I could barely walk! But somehow managed to get through the day by walking very slowly. I felt like an old woman! Had to take tubes everywhere, instead of walking! Very grumpy. Tom took me out for pizza in South Kensington which cheered me up:
It was massive and we struggled to finish! They do pizza by the metre, so Tom's pizza was on one half (well, two thirds I would argue!) and mine was on the other! We love to share :)
If you're ever in South Ken and want amazing pizza, I recommend Da Spago. It was so delicious. I had had a few champagnes (we'd been to an exhibit earlier, with free champagne!) and that combined with my dismay over my knee made me look at the menu and think "stuff it, I'm getting the quattro formaggi!" I did ask for spinach on it though. Because you know spinach cancels out everything else ;)
Getting home revealed the knee was still swollen, so put my legs up on Tom who lovingly held an icepack on it.
Next day, even worse! I had a mini meltdown, if I'm honest, I was just so fed up! I thought I'd done everything right! Aargh. Was this my payback for quattro formaggi?! LOL.
Anyway, eventually I calmed down and stopped seeing my knee problem as an attack from the Universe! Sometimes things like this happen and there's not a lot you can do about it. As Liz would say, I have a "special needs knee"!
So, after far too much moping and "why me" moments, I decided to move over to the
B R I G H T S I D E !!
The glaringly obvious blessing is that this happened post-race rather than pre-race - I would have been devastated if I'd got injured before the race and been unable to do it. So I'm grateful for that at least.
There also doesn't appear to be any major injury - ie: a meniscal tear - that would require intense physio or anything like that. All it really needs is rest. I'm just not good at the rest thing. I'm really not!
Also, this injury has given me an opportunity to practice what I preach. When you're unable to exercise it is crucial to keep up the healthy eating, and this is what I've always said to blog friends who've been unable to exercise due to injury. Ditching the healthy eating just means double the damage in the long run, doesn't it?
But, of course, it's not always easy to resist when you've got the runner's knee blues! Hence my quattro formaggi incident.
So, after arriving at work, and having decided I wasn't going to let this knee beat me, and that I was going to commit to eating as well as possible for the recovery period, I had my fruit smoothie for breakfast, followed by Ibuprofen(!) and settled in for a more positive, virtuous day. Having to hobble around still made me a bit grizzly though. Then, for some reason, this little things appeared in our work snack area:
I don't know if you've ever had them, but these are devilish little morsels of chocolate addiction, I tells ya. I love anything from Marks and Spencer, especially their low-fat hummous and antipasto items, but their chocolate/biscuit/cake treats really are in a league of their own! The chocolate mini bites are a regular fixture in my workplace!
Ordinarily I'd have one or two, knowing I'd be running later to burn them off. But with no run on the agenda, I knew it wasn't really a good idea.
When they first appeared, I gave them a somewhat lingering glance, but then consoled myself with my dried dates. After my lunch though, they became more and more appealing! Despite my efforts at positive self talk, I was still feeling so rotten about my knee, which was currently under it's third ice pack of the day. Surely it wouldn't hurt to just have one, to make myself feel better?
Well, yeah, if I could stop at one! But given my sooky state I knew I probably wouldn't, and live, self-flagelatingly, to regret it.
So, having decided once again that the knee was not going to beat me, every time I was tempted to go and bury my head in the bucket of chocolate mini-bites, I made myself a cup of herbal tea.
I had three cups of tea in the end :P Orange and mango tea is very nice, I discovered, and very good for assuaging a sweet craving.
Having said all this, I don't want you guys to think I was depriving myself, because I wasn't - if I had really genuinely felt like having these things, I would have. But I didn't genuinely want them - I just wanted them because they were there and I think all of us have contemplated chocolate as a remedy for feeling a bit blue every now and then! And I knew that those reasons weren't the reason to eat them. I only resisted - and had to work hard to resist! - because I knew I didn't really need them.
When I think of the days when I used to consider myself powerless when it came to food, I look back now and realise that I wasn't really. I was still making choices. I just wasn't thinking about them. Everyone has a choice about the way they want to live and the trick is to make conscious choices instead of unconscious ones.
So, feeling very virtuous, after work I headed to my core strength class at Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are running a wonderful campaign at the moment called Get Fit 4 Free, where you can try four different types of exercise every Wednesday at their shops. I signed up straight away!
The class was amazing!!! Just what I needed.
We started the class by talking briefly about what is considered to be our "core". Most of us just thought it was the abs, but it turns out the diaphragm and the glutes are also considered core! We did a series of exercises that involved strengthening these three groups of muscles.
I didn't realise how much I rely on my arms and legs for balance and for strength - when we were doing an exercise my arms were aching. The reason was, the instructor told me, because I was using my arms to hold me up, not the core! Switching the focus to the core was a lot harder than it sounds.
Fortunately all these exercises were low impact on my knees, so I was able to do them with very little discomfort. A lot of them were similar to yoga poses I do at home - Warrior II, Bridge and Cat. Check out the video link above for more ideas.
The instructor made sure I was comfortable in each exercise - I'd told her about my knee when i arrived - and she came over to me during one exercise and told me to lift one of the bones in my feet - I forget the name, but apparently this bone is connected to a muscle all the way up the shin and calf, and engaging that muscle properly in the pose would probably alleviate the pain in the knee. And you know what...it worked!
I came away feeling really refreshed, and I'm definitely going to make time for core strengthening in my workouts. I usually do pushups and tricep dips after running, but these are done more with the aim of toning up my fadoobidahs (bingo wings, whatever you want to call them!) than anything else! But I've also done some thinking about the importance of stretching thoroughly after working out as well, so that I can hopefully avoid knee injuries in future. Fortunately I am ok but it's been a wake up call, certainly!
And...my knee feels so much better today! I haven't needed an ice pack or anti-inflammatories today, so fingers crossed I am on the mend. Tom and I are going swimming every day this weekend to make up for my lack of running, which I'm looking forward to - something nice and gentle to ease me back in!
Being on the bright side is nice. Sometimes there's things in life you can't do much about, they just happen and you've just got to roll with it. Some time out will probably do me good - if anything, it's just forced me to slow down instead of rushing all the time. And that's got to be a good thing.
Ta-ta for now, dwellers on the bright side! :)