This past weekend I did the Tough Mudder in Whistler. My last race prior to this was a Terry Fox run when I was in grade 6. When I started getting ready for this, a few months ago, I was concerned that my knees wouldn’t make it. I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t like running. A large part of that is that it used to really hurt my knees to run. So, just as I avoid poking myself in my eye with my finger in order to avoid stabbing pain to my eye, I avoided running. But the Tough Mudder was almost a half marathon distance, plus obstacles, so I needed to make running a major part of my training.
How do you practice running when running hurts?
I also started with a run/walk combo. I have a hard time allowing myself to slow down or stop, but I knew that if I pushed too hard, my knees would give out.
I tried to listen to my body. At the beginning, I paid attention to pain. But, I also discovered that certain kinds of pain would go away. They were not actually true pains, but more like discomforts. I could push through those, keep running, and be fine.
But, a couple of times I misread pain/discomfort and suffered afterward. As a result, I made sure to ice my knees following my runs, so as to take down the inflammation I was causing.
Since I knew that running was the most injurious, I did other forms of training that didn’t involve running, but would continue to build strength and endurance. Snowshoeing, climbing the Grouse Grind, and yoga were my choices.
I also made sure to get treatments. I had massage, chiro, and acupuncture. I did my own biopuncture in my knees, using a combo of Traumeel, Zeel, Lympdiaral, and procaine once a week to build up my knees and take down the inflammation. This was definitely a huge part of my healing and strengthening!
Most Tough Mudders I spoke with were worried about one obstacle or another–overcoming fears of heights, electrocution, water, etc. I was most worried about the running. At the beginning I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get past 5K of running. Because at the beginning my knees hurt at just 3-4K. I also had problems with anything downhill.
But, I love reading about the power of the mind. So, one day I did the snowshoe grind and decided to run down the mountain with the thought of strong knees that would carry me down with ease. Indeed they were strong that day and I suffered no pain. Unfortunately, not every training after that meant no pain. But some did, so that was encouraging.
It was those “some” moments that allowed me to believe that no knee pain would be possible.
So, if you have pain, perhaps there is a way around, to do the things that you strive to do.