IT Bands, Angry Knees and Me


I have mentioned here and there in previous posts that I have been battling various IT Band / hip / knee issues… I thought I would take the time to be a little more specific, talk about what I have been doing to work out the kinks, etc.

Because I am a new runner, I made all kinds of mistakes… I trained over the winter on ramping up my mileage and was chugging right along in February, adding a mile on every week to my long run.  I live in a tiny town, with limited places to run and a lot of brick streets.  Because I don’t want to be run over by a car, I ran against traffic.

When I hit 6 miles, I noticed my hips started hurting.

When I hit 7 miles, I noticed by right knee was hurting.

Then I did Shamrock Shuffle…  I was feeling pretty good and at the end of race I was really wanting to do some passing and ran as fast as I could.  (read: overstriding).

Ouch! Next day, my right knee was hurting big time.  My weekly mileage plummeted.  Based on a recommendation from my runner friend, LaRissa, I saw a chiropractor.  He introduced me to the torture techniques trademarked as Graston,  Active Release Technique (ART) and dry needling.  He also began showing me many exercising meant to work on my imbalances (which I promptly ignored).

Two weeks later, I raced Diva Dash… Shot out at a fast pace, made it a bit over a mile and then my right knee gave out.  I could barely walk on it.  I ended up hobbling the rest of the race in.  I was crying and pathetic and sad and you can read more about that race here.  (You don’t really need to.  Long story short,  it sucked.)

Anyways… Lots of chiro visits later, my mileage increased back up to being able to do pain-free 5Ks.  I was using the ARC trainer instead of long runs, hoping for a miracle to happen in time for my first half marathon, Garmin Wickedly Fast Half.  Chiro even made molds of my feet, which were sent off for magic and ridiculously expensive custom orthotics.

5 or 6 miles in, my right knee / IT Band started hurting.  As is the case on pretty much every race / long run I have done since.  I have bought IT Band straps, knee wraps, foam rollers and ibuprofen by the case.  It is always my right side. Never the left.  (Damn cambered brick streets?)

A couple weeks ago, I discovered Skora running shoes and read up on the benefits of minimalist running shoes.  Thinking this might help (I am really working hard on mastering mid-foot running but can’t feel the ground through my Saucony Rides and orthotics), I ordered a pair of Skora Base shoes.  (Bonus that Velcro might help my transitions in triathlons!).

I took my Saucony Rides and Skora shoes to the track.  I ran a mile in the Skora shoes and felt great.  The first lap, it felt weird to not have any cushion but I got over that quickly and liked that I could feel the ground.

I put on the Sauconys and ran a mile.   I immediately felt like I had a bunch of crap under my arches.  This went away after a while, but I felt like I couldn’t feel my feet.  Toward the end, I felt my IT Band getting a little twitchy.  Coincidence?  I don’t know.  But I liked the way the Skora shoes felt and stopped wearing the Sauconys. (Transition slowly? What? That is for wimps! Or smart people. I don’t know.)

I wore the Skora shoes for my next race, the Martini Madness 5K and had no issues at all. Bliss!

My next long run, I wore the Skoras and ran 6 miles.  Toward the end, my knee started letting me know it was done, but I was still feeling strong.

Last night, I went for my long run.  It was really late and I didn’t want to run on the pitch-black track so I ran at  the Baker University campus.  The campus has sidewalks that are well-lit and right by my house.  Convenient! But hard! And skunk-infested!  I ran 4.5 miles and my knee started to hurt.  I decided to hoof it home before I hurt my knee (and also to avoid getting stinkbombed by skunks.)

Today my knee feels just fine.  I plan to do my 3 mile recovery run at the high school track.  I am thinking maybe my knee didn’t like plodding around on the concrete. And I should stick to the track.  I also am going to look into some yoga for runners as I have heard that it helps with tight IT Bands. If my next long run doesn’t go well, I will start hitting the ARC Trainer again until I heal back up.

I am really getting discouraged by becoming injured due to increased mileage though. I don’t see how I am going to get marathon-ready again if I can’t make my right knee / IT Band happy running in the double-digits.  Cardio-wise, I can go forever… it’s my right leg that won’t keep up.

 I am completely open to suggestions! Anyone have a magic cure? :)

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