IT Band Injury & Marathon Deferral

I’m officially injured.

This injury isn’t something that just spontaneously happened one day, it’s been coming for a while. During training for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio I was doing some pretty intense speed training (intense at least for me). With that speed work came some tight and achey knees. I didn’t think much about it and just chalked it up to a new training routine and a tough training cycle.

I was wavering on whether I should run a spring marathon because of the concern about my knees, I was almost committed to no spring marathon until…

…Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio happened. I PRed (1:48) and it seemed that my pie-in-the-sky goal of qualifying for Boston was actually attainable sooner than I thought. I was on an emotional high and I went home and immediately registered for The Woodlands Marathon. Training began.

Just after Christmas on an 18 mile long run my knees were exceptionally stiff. I just ignored them and hoped they would loosen up some as the miles progressed. At mile 4 all of a sudden, sharp pain went through my left knee and brought me to a stand still. I walked for 20 yards or so hoping it was just a tweak but as soon as I started running again it came back. At that point I turned around and walked back home. Run cancelled. Something was very wrong.

I wasn’t sure what the injury was but I knew I couldn’t run with it hurting like that so I took three days off, went on a test run and made it a mile before the pain came back. Three days later I tried another run and made it three miles but the pain came back. The week after I tried running more with mild success but I have’t been on a pain free run since that fateful failed 18 miler.

After much googling I decided with certainty that it was my IT band.

This injury caught me off guard but I wasn’t surprised. I’ve been neglecting my body for a while. Every time I saw “cross train” or “strength train”on a training plan I ignored it. My laziness got the best of me.

Pair that with shoes that I now realize are not the right choice for my feet and injury was a given.

Weak hip muscles doing speed work on a canted road in non-ideal shoes? Yeah. Genius.

I guess the big question here is, what am I doing about it?

Most importantly, I’m not running. At all. Last week, I did a little test run in some of my old shoes to see if they helped (they did) but I haven’t run since then. Instead I’m doing every other exercise at the gym that I failed to do before. Elliptical. Rower. Spin. Swimming. Yoga. If it’s offered at the Y and (and doesn’t aggervate my IT band) that’s what I’m doing. At least an hour everyday.

I’ve also added strength training to my routine. I’m doing the Strong Lifts program but slightly modified to fit my schedule and abilities. Lifting twice a week.

Stronglifts

The days I don’t do Strong Lifts, I use a mini band to do hip exercises.

I also bought a new pair of my old type of shoes (Mizuno Wave Creation). It was almost time for a new pair of shoes anyway and I’ve never been happy with the Wave Riders. The Wave Riders are great shoes but they just aren’t the right fit for me and I’ve had problems since I switched to them. I’ve had success with the Wave Creation in the past so they’re a safe bet when I return to running during the healing period.

Foam rolling. Every day. Every single day.

All this cross training and weight lifting have me feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt – like I do at peak marathon training which is FANTASTIC.

Unfortunately, I’m not in a good place to run a marathon. Even if I could finish it wouldn’t be a smart move, so I’ll be deferring my marathon entry. I’m sad and disappointed but I know I’ll come back from this as a much stronger and much smarter runner and I’m confident that this is the best decision for me and my body.

Lesson learned.

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