Before summer official leaves us and we say hello to fall (believe me, I am so ready for fall!), I’ve been reflecting back on this summer: what we did differently from last summer’s training and how the particular challenge of the last few months have ultimately made me a smarter, stronger runner.
My summer running motto was “learn to embrace the sweat.” It first came to mind last year when we were training for the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare challenge and with two half marathons on the docket this fall (plus some smaller races in between), this summer was all about embracing the sweat and staying hydrated in the hot, humid weather (shout out to the amazing folks at Nuun and their fab healthy hydration options! #liveclean).
Two of the biggest differences from last summer to this summer’s training:
- Connor and I have been getting up at 5am during the week to be out the door by 5:30 to get our run in together (it’s been going great so far!)
- Since mid-June, I’ve been “injured” and didn’t run for about 4-ish weeks/most of July.
I use the term “injured” loosely here. I did something to my right knee in June (still not really sure what) and on one of our Sunday long runs had a weird tingling/tickling sensation on the inside of my knee with every step I took. It wasn’t painful; but constant enough to be annoying and uncomfortable. When I got it checked out by a sports medicine doctor, the diagnosis was pes anserine bursitus.
Exactly. Basically a tendon on the inside of my right knee was inflamed which caused the bursa to become irritated (for the record: I, myself, was also irritated) and produce too much fluid. A little set-back? Yes. Detrimental to our training schedule and fall races? Not necessarily.
I’ve been doing physical therapy for the last month to work on strengthening my hamstrings and glutes, improving my balance (oh hey, standing on a giant piece of foam on one leg with my eyes closed…it’s more difficult than you’d think!), and loosening up my wicked tight Achilles and hip flexors. I’ve still been keeping up with our training (no running on PT days though), but go a little slower and do much more stretching and icing afterward. My knees get a little sore/achy after running and the tingling isn’t 100% gone, but I’ve definitely noticed an improvement overall as well as better hamstring flexibility! Here I am in “The Cage,” working on stretching those calves:
Recently in PT we did a little running analysis. Alli, my amazing PT, took slow-mo video of me running on a treadmill from the front, back, and side. I did preface this with “I never run on the treadmill, so I might start out a bit awkwardly” (haha). Here’s a peek from the front:
After looking at the videos, there was an interesting discovery: my right leg likes to cross over the midline (#crossovergait) which not only isn’t good, but also makes my hips shift in a funny way while I run and could be contributing to my knee discomfort and inhibiting healing. My left leg (which has been fine and happy through all of this, by the way) is in-line where it should be. Later the same day, I was getting ready to do an exercise on a table and my PT came over and noticed that even when I was lying down, my right leg naturally fell more inward. She moved my leg so it was parallel with my left leg and fell straight below my hip…it felt like I’d swung my leg out to the side. So weird!
Could this be exacerbating my bursitis? Probably. Have I always been running like this? Perhaps. Could it also be a culprit of my scoliosis? Possible. How fascinating! We’ve been starting to incorporate some agility drills into the PT mix to try to re-train my right leg to not crossover the midline, like drills on a ladder (haven’t done that since high school basketball) and very targeting strengthening exercises.
I’ve kept a very positive attitude about all this and have discovered that, for even a seemingly small “injury” like bursitis, patience is key. Just like training for a race: in order to heal and get stronger, you have to put in the work. I have about a month left in PT and I’m excited to see more improvement and also learn what I can do to keep these muscles strong and healthy going forward. Stay tuned!