Friday, March 20, 2009

Countdown: T-minus 30*

It happened last year the same way.

I start training for the Boston Marathon in December. Spend all of January and February running on ice floes, on Saturday mornings, on Heartbreak Hill a dozen times, and feel great. Feel motivated.

Then March hits. Training intensifies. Which causes friends and acquaintances to ask "so, how's the running going?" to which I reply:

"Knock on wood, but I actually feel pretty good...."

It must be that I don't actually knock on the wood, because this is exactly the moment that something goes wrong.

Last year, it was the feet. Arch pain after my February 28 long run. Had to truncate all running except for the weekend long runs for the last 6 weeks. Made it to race day via 4 trips to a podiatrist who didn't really know what the problem was, another 4 to a professional Kinesio Taping, and a fair bout of angst and not sleeping.

This year, it just all happened 2 weeks later.

My hill run on Monday night seemed to be just the tip I needed into Illotibial (IT) Band Syndrome. (Which in addition to not liking how it feels, I also always manage to spell "illiobital".)

At least I think it was. All I know is that the outside of my right knee has been in noticeable pain while walking ever since then...and it took me a couple days to realize that it really wasn't my knee per se, but the thigh muscles above that are causing the strain. My marathon team coach believes that is also the correct diagnosis and sent along the links for icing and stretching and strengthening all those muscles.

So what is the first edict from all the good online doctors who write on the subject?

"Stop running."
I haven't run since Monday. I may not do the long run tomorrow.

Oy. Stay tuned.

*thanks to for the shout-out.


Anonymous said...

Dear Karin,

Yes. I used to run for distance until my right knee's grinding pain convinced me to become a walker. Still counting days until its replacement; furthermore, best advice my orthopedic surgeon gave me: "If humans were meant to run for long distances, 'homo sapiens' would have evolved with springs in its knees." Your feet are telling you something, I'm afraid.

EastBoston said...

I had a bout with ITB when my mileage hit 15 on the long runs last year, I see a chiropractor who specializes in ART (active response therapy) who took care of it within weeks, without drugs or surgery, and I was ready on the morning of the marathon. He has a lot of athletes/marathoners as clients, and knew no way in heck was I not going to run the race after all this dedication to training, so we set up a plan based on what I needed and when the marathon was. I had no pain on race day, or afterward! I know it sounds like a shameless ad, but he really saved my marathon. Dr. Brad Weiss, his web site is www dot performancehealthcenter dot com. Seriously you should go see him. Good luck! This weekend is my 21 mile training run, then it's time to taper!!!

Anonymous said...


When did you start running in the orthotics? I know you've been walking in them for awhile, but if you just started major mileage in the orthotics, that may have caused the other problem in your leg. I don't know how frequently they advise one to jump into something that different when you are trying to PR a race (it's one thing if you're just running for maintenance), but that can cause major changes in how you run, hence the new pain in your IT band. I think some people who start running with orthotics just get new pains to replace the old ones, and they frequenty have to go back to the person who made them to make some minor tweaks. If you can run without them for the time being, that might be best, and then try working into them during the summer when you're not abusing your body with marathon training.

Good luck!


Mrs. Hansen said...

I'm with EastBoston on the chiropractor thing. Though I don't have problems with running, I've been struggling with pretty severe chronic shoulder pain for a couple of years that my pcp, physical therapy, accupuncture (though it definitely worked in other ways) just didn't help.

Just met with a chiropractor twice this week and already (finally) am seeing relief and improvement. Not to mention that this guy will also be running in the marathon with you in April and is self-treating his own foot issues.

You can do it!!! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I had the same ITB problem when I was training for Boston 7 years ago. Physical therapy got me through the course. Good luck!

fire0419 said...

I'm also training for the marathon and have had some knee pain for a few weeks. I'm now going to PT twice a week for my ITB and going to a chiropractor who is doing Active Release Technique. He's one of the top docs in Boston for this- Dr Green at the Spine and Sports Injury Center (has worked with Red Sox players, etc.). Check him out!

Anonymous said...


Lots of advice on here, much of which i agree with. (Though for ITB you'll want to find a massage therapist who performs ART, not a chiropractor.) A simple home remedy to do daily in addition: foam roller (google it). Painful at first, but loosens up the ITB like a charm after a week or two. Use the white rollers (softer) first - don't jump right to black. Good luck.
- former NCAA runner

Anonymous said...

Hi Karin,
I agree with the last post...look into a foam roller. It is a bit painful, but it really does help loosen up the IT band. ART therapy has been very helpful to me as well. I was advised to wear orthotics a few years ago and immediately had problems with my IT band (never had ANY problems before). What shoe are you running in? If you have orthotics, then you can run in a neutral cushioned shoe (since the orthotics provide stability). For some runners, orthotics + motion control shoes could be too much and stress the IT band.

Since the orthotics are controlling your foot motion, the impact is transferred up your leg. I found mine settled down some with foam rolling and the right shoes. In the end, I learned a new tape job for my feet rather than wear the orthotics and the IT band problem went away. When I run a lot of down hills though, it can act up and so I visit the foam roller and ART guy to loosen me up again. You should be running again soon. :) Best wishes for the rest of your training!
CPG's sister (I'm a runner too)

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,
Definitely sounds like ITB. I had that problem a few years ago right before Boston. Here's a quick solution since you are so close to marathon day: use the foam thing. Roll your leg over it until it hurts. Stretch as much as you can and schedule a deep tissue massage. Go into taper down 1 week earlier than scheduled. After Boston - rest. Do not run for 1 month and learn pilates or yoga. Stretching is key to solving the ITB problem. Finally, dig deep and resign yourselve to the fact that you will finish Boston this year - it may not be a PR for you but you'll finish! Good luck.

Anonymous said...

hey karin,

i had a similar-sounding problem, and while i don't know the official term for it (perhaps it was something to do with ITB) - i do know that a few weeks of inner-thigh strengthening exercises did the trick! for me, the sharp knife-like pain only happened when climbing or decending stairs (or small hills). hope you get back on the up and up and enjoy the marathon you've worked so hard for.

matt said...

I'm doing the London Marathon next month and stumbled across your post because I've got the same thing - am going to have to miss this weeks long run (after finishing 5 miles yesterday in agony) and hope for the best next week. I've got orthotics, foam roller,Asics Kayanos and have had deep tissue massage. I'm going to spend the next 2 weeks stretching and icing as much as possible and keep up fitness by swimming and pool running if I can. A real bummer but I've put in too much time and money in the training to quit now. I just hope 6 weeks is long enough to get through this. This IT band is a real nuisance...

Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog . I don't really know a lot about Knee or art, but that's just my 2 cents. Really great job though, Krudman! Keep up the good work!