running blog

Clive Whaley

Runner's Knee

Day 62 - Marathon Training - 50 mins (testing the knee)

Ever since Monday's 20 mile run until today, I have had pain in my right knee cap. It felt like I had walked into the sharp corner of a door and it was badly bruised. Going up and down stairs was particularly bad. I've been looking up references to "Runner's Knee" on the internet. (This from "Undoubtedly one of the most common running ailments, runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), can hamper your training or leave you completely sidelined."

I carried on running, sticking blindly to my training programme for Tuesday and Wednesday - convincing myself that it wasn't that bad and also, once I got running, it did seem to feel a bit better. But Thursday and Friday it was really bad. On those days I was in London, visiting my eldest daughter, so it was easy to avoid any running (although I had been looking forward to the idea of a pre-marathon London run). However, I did a lot of walking in the capital and it didn't seem as though I was getting much rest. To be honest, I find several hours walking way more tiring than running.

In the end I tried to be partially sensible by taking 3 days off running and only getting back into it today. If I was REALLY sensible, given how bad my knee felt, I should probably have given it at least a week's complete rest. But there is this incredible compulsion to keep up the training programme, a fear of missing individual sessions - of falling behind with the whole thing.

Before going out for today's 'test run', I looked up material on the NHS Choices site, where it gives a set of useful knee strengthening exercises, so I did a few squats and leg raises - cautiously and gently - just to give myself a bit of confidence before setting off. I also want to learn a routine of these 'knee workouts' to incorporate on most running days from now on. I guess I'm hoping that this has been a warning to me to pay more attention to my ageing kneecaps and that with a bit more preventative work, I will actually emerge with much stronger knees.

I suppose it is no great surprise that, having run the best part of 20 miles on a hard road surface, for the first time in many years, my knees had something to say about it. I'm not entirely sure why it's only the right knee that's complaining but there you go.*

Anyway, the good news is, after 50 minutes or so of running on mainly soft surfaces today, it felt fine. That's great … but I can't help feeling cautious about it, suspicious almost. How come it was so bad a couple of days ago and now it seems almost completely healed? The real test will be tomorrow. If I wake and it has not become sore again and if I fit in a 13 mile road run, as scheduled, that will confirm that the panic is over and I'm back on track.

I've learnt a lesson though. I really do need to take care of my precious knobbly knees.

[* Since writing that, I've come across a potential explanation for the 'one sided' effect - from '' - "Runner's knee is … frequently caused by a thigh muscle imbalance, which can pull the kneecap out of alignment - and this imbalance can occasionally be caused by running on the side of a road where the camber can affect gait." This is a highly probable cause for what I've done.]