Update on Training -> Be Smarter Than Me

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have seen that I briefly mentioned I was having knee pain the last few weeks. But I haven’t gone into detail…so here it it is: About three weeks ago, I began feeling something in my left knee. It wasn’t painful – just kind of a tweak when I was walking up/down the stairs and at the start of each run. Since it wasn’t painful, I decided to continue with my scheduled running that week – including mile repeats on Thursday evening and an 18 miler Saturday. No pain during either of those stress workouts but by Saturday afternoon, my knee had had enough and I had a hard time even walking up the stairs.

Mistake #1 -> I should have skipped the speedwork on Thursday and even taken a day or two off to let my knee rest. I had just changed shoes the week prior and I don’t think I was getting the support that I was used to. Sometimes all it takes is a day or two off with some icing or stretching to let your body reset.

So after the 18 miler, I took (read: was forced to take) three days off from running – I focused on resting, icing, easy biking and core work. I did a couple of easy runs later that week (7 and 8 milers) – including an easy run with 12 x 1 minute hard / 90 seconds easy (to test the knee) and then a 20 miler on the treadmill. I had no pain during any of the workouts that week, but soon after the long run on Saturday, my knee felt off again.

Mistake #2 -> Although I felt fine, I probably shouldn’t have jumped back into running that mileage nor should I have done any fast running. It would have been smarter to start with lower mileage for a few more days before attempting anything close to 22 miles.

My sister’s bachelorette party was Saturday night. Despite the issues I was having with my knee, I wore 3 inch heels. I woke up Sunday morning with knee pain all over again. UGH.


Mistake #3 -> Do not add any outside stress to your body when it is trying to recover from a tweak/injury/etc. I don’t wear heels on a regular basis so wearing them for 6+ hours when my knee was acting up was silly.

I was incredibly frustrated with the back and forth of pain/no pain and running/not running, so even though things felt better on Monday, I took the better part of the week off while promising myself to ease into things with easy, shorter runs and to skip my planned 22 miler.

Skipping the long run was the toughest – the LA Marathon is 4 1/2 weeks away and due to a late start with training, a pulled muscle in my neck and then the knee pain, I’ve only done one 18 and one 20 miler. Not ideal. But I also know that if I overdid things with the long run, that I’d be in the same situation again come Sunday morning.

I’ve had five solid days of running since returning (5, 7, 10, 15, rest day, 8) – no speedwork, hillwork or anything crazy. Just easy mileage (one fast finish run) and a long(ish) run on Sunday (15 miles). But the best part is no knee pain.

50 degree day -> saw grass for the first time in almost two weeks!

50 degree day -> saw grass for the first time in almost two weeks!

Workouts (from last Monday)

  • Monday: 60 min trainer ride, core/strength
  • Tuesday: core/strength
  • Wednesday: 75 min trainer ride, core/strength
  • Thursday: 5 miles, core/strength
  • Friday: 7 miles (7:46 pace), 30 min trainer ride, core
  • Saturday: First run outside in TWO weeks! 10 miles including last 3 fast finish: 7:59, 7:43, 7:42, 7:42, 7:39, 7:26, 7:33, 7:11, 7:05, 6:46. (7:28 pace)
  • Sunday: 15 miles ( 7:54 pace)
  • Monday: Pilates/Barre (I have a few amazing DVDs -> will do a post on these ASAP!)
  • Tuesday: 8 miles, core/strength

You shouldn’t be in pain when you run…or after you run, for that matter. If you are, something is wrong – whether it’s your shoes, too fast a jump in your mileage, speedwork being too fast…Take it from me – it’s a lot better to have patience and miss a couple of days of running rather than running through it and then having to skip a heck of a lot more if it gets worse

Do you try to run through pain or are you good about taking a rest day and icing?

I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    28 thoughts on “Update on Training -> Be Smarter Than Me

    1. I meant to comment last week but it never happened… just wanted to say I’m SO glad the knee is nothing serious. Most of us would have continued to push through like you did, it’s the stubborn runner’s way! I can’t believe the marathon is so close!!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..16 Weeks PregnantMy Profile

    2. Oh yes I’ve absolutely done that – heels and all! The runner’s mindset is a difficult thing. We KNOW we should take it easy and rest but it’s OH SO HARD! Sounds like you’re on the right path now. Good luck in the coming weeks!
      Allie recently posted..I Heart Headbands & RunnerboxMy Profile

    3. I suck at taking unplanned rest days..
      And I’m pretty sure I could have avoided all my injuries if I’d have rested when my calf/ankle/foot started bothering me.

    4. Saying to take a few days off and let it heal is SO much easier than actually doing it! I have tried to keep running through pain and got runner’s knee. I did have a little pain a few weeks ago in my hip and I took a few days off and have been running really easy since. It helps that we have been SO busy with moving so that is not only a nice distraction but also good cross training! :)
      Glad you are running pain free now though!!!!
      Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..Back to Blogging!!!!!My Profile

    5. Ugh, always a hard to decision whether to run or rest when something feels just a bit off. I always rest or x-train now because I’ve been injured too many times in the past when I would try to keep running. You sound like you are still in the pre-injury stage so hopefully you caught this in time and it won’t be a real problem. Good luck!
      Andrea @ The Fit Scoop recently posted..The Treadmill: Love It or Loathe It?My Profile

    6. I usually try to listen to my body and determine if it is something that I can run through or if I need to take time off. I have made the mistake many times in the past of pushing through pain and wound up injured. I am slowly learning form my mistakes :) Good luck with your last month of training!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Small StepsMy Profile

    7. As someone with a plethora of knee issues (osteoarthritis, torn meniscus, many surgeries), please take it easy, both on your knee and on yourself. It sounds like you are doing just that, so good job!

      I am a fairly new reader but am amazed by your dedication and discipline. I’d love to absorb some of it, which is why I read. Sounds like you’ve got this and you are doing what you can.

    8. I have a rule of thumb: if it hurts to the point of changing my gait/affecting how I walk, I take the day off, ice, and look at workouts day-to-day. I may pool run or take a spinning class, or rest altogether; but I try not to run for a few days.

      I agree with Misszippy: overall, you were smart. You took a few days off and I’m sure you’ll get to the start line. If it helps at all, none of my long runs were ideal for my last training cycle, and I PR’d by 9 minutes! It’s obviously not idea, but your body will have muscle memory. :-)

    9. I have to admit, looking at your Instagram posts last week, I was wondering why you were putting in some hard efforts and mileage last week when you had some knee pain. I’m happy to see this post and your honesty about not making the right decision in pushing through the pain.

      I have to do a lot of treadmill running in the winter time and nearly every year I get a little runner’s knee. I definitely think all the repetitive treadmill work has something to do with it. It’s so hard to lay off when you have a goal you’re working towards, but the potential long-term damage is scarier.

    10. Feel better my queen! It was drilled into my head from day one body knows best and to think big picture. Pain is a nerve message to the brain from somewhere in the body and sometimes it’s not even what hurts as it could be something else. When my knee was hurt a year ago it wound up being my foot as the cause. One race is never worth a years worth especially with your awesome goals beyond just completing marathons (ie Kona). You are and will always be my favorite regardless!

    11. Glad to hear your knee is doing better. I’m sure you’ll be ready for the LA Marathon. You know how to push through tired legs from all of your previous races, which in my opinion is the big part of getting through a marathon. I try to be good about taking time off when my body needs it, but if I’m strongly following a training plan or if I’m scheduled for a peak workout that day, it’s harder for me to skip or move that run.
      Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted..Why Runners Should Try YogaMy Profile

    12. Glad things are getting better. We have ALL tried to push through the pain before. I am certainly no exception to that. You are a strong athlete and although this training cycle has been short and not exactly what you wanted.. you are going into LA incredibly prepared. Don’t belittle the experience you have, it counts way more than I can say.
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..Boston Training: 2 Steps Back, 3 Steps FowardMy Profile

    13. Thank you for this post- it is such a good reminder to listen to your body, even if it means backing off on mileage. You will benefit more in the end.

      Also- I would definitely be interested in those DVD’s you mentioned for Pilates/Barre. I really wanted to try out a Barre class, but my schedule won’t allow it, so I do cross training videos in my basement :) Always looking for new ones to try!!

    14. I’m a (relatively) new runner, so this is helpful for me to see. Running is hard because it pushes you beyond your comfort zone. Discomfort can be interpreted as “pain” for the inexperienced. Learning to differentiate between the two is critical.

    15. Thank you for that statement “you shouldn’t be in pain”. I think too many people believe that is a required part of distance running.

      I feel like you and I are both in a place right now of learning. We have goals and the drive and now it’s about really putting together the things we already know :)

      Hope the knee chills out and you are able to run feeling strong again this week!
      Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..20 Creative, Healthy Salad Ideas for LunchMy Profile

    16. Glad to hear you backed off without running into the ground, but I just want to note that rest, ice, stretching, etc dont “fix” anything. They prevent making it worse. Sounds like a case of runners knee, so some specific strengthening should help you prevent it from coming back. With your race so close, I just want to make sure you are working toward fixing it and not just hoping you’re rested enough that it won’t come back. If it is Runners Knee, it’s a relatively easy fix done through strengthening, so hopefully that’s all you need to get back on track. Also remember that you’ve got plenty of training to pull from, so even if you don’t get in a bunch of 20 milers, you’ve done it enough before. Best bet for a great race is to get to the starting line healthy!
      LesserIsMore recently posted..Understanding The Recovery Run and Why You’re Probably Doing It WrongMy Profile

      • Adam – I agree with what you are saying…but in my case, this all happened about a week after I started running with new shoes (new brand). I’ve never had knee pain before so I immediately stopped wearing the shoes. I do agree that knee strengthening exercises will help and I have been incorporating more strength work into my routine (see summary of workouts). But I do think that the pain (for me) was caused by wearing the wrong type of shoe so icing, stretching, exercises to to strengthen and switching back to the old ones seemed to be the solution.
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Update on Training -> Be Smarter Than MeMy Profile

    17. Hardest, hardest thing for a runner to do, especially when a race is looming. I totally regret running after feeling my high hamstring before my fall marathon. It just never pays.

      That said, I think you were pretty smart here, even if you do regret some of the runs. It sounds to me like you will still get to the start line and that’s a good thing. Keep it up!
      misszippy1 recently posted..When is a run a run?My Profile