I was almost through my last long training run when my left knee started hurting. What now?

Over the last 13 weeks I’ve trained for the Little Rock Marathon in Little Rock, AR. I made a training plan, I reworked my strength and cross training plans, and I finally started going to yoga. It took a couple weeks to get into my training schedule, but I stuck to it. I was excited for my race and my body felt great! Then during my last long long run, with only 3 weeks to go, my left knee blew up.

I had searing pain with each step.

I stopped running and started walking. It calmed down and I thought I could run again. I tried a few more steps, but it kept hurting. This last long run just wasn’t going to happen the way I’d planned. I was so frustrated!

My brain went to the deepest, darkest place.

“It’s all over, there goes all that money I spent on registration, shoes, and travel with my friends.” “I’m going to miss out on that super awesome weekend getaway.” “Why do I even sign up for races when I can’t even do them.” “I’m so weak, I’m out of shape, I’m damaging my body with all my running.”

Big fat self-talk lies.

During my last miles of walking, I used all of my positive thinking skills to turn it around. I already got in 13 weeks of training – that’s plenty! I stopped when it was hurting instead of battling through and hurting something else. And I reminded myself that I still had 3 whole weeks until my race. Loads of time to rehab and recover.

Hand weights for cross training.

Cross training for the win!

In the days following I rested, I iced, I stretched, and I didn’t run. I used my cross training exercises to keep moving with less impact. I modified my strength training program to address the areas contributing to my pain. And I kept my lovely physical therapist coworkers on deck in case things didn’t get better.

words, I can, I will

I practiced my very best positive thinking.

I reminded myself of all the miles I already ran, encouraged myself that with rest and decreased pain, I’ll be stronger for my race. Then I told myself I will heal and I will run my race. And if not? There will be many more races OR other non-running challenges to tackle.

It’s all about perspective.

Rest, positive self-talk, time to recover, and patience are all the things I need to make this injury a small hurdle instead of a big roadblock.

-Kristen Strawhacker