I realize I do a lot of raving about how wonderful running is, but there is a down side - the injury. I don't know a lot of runners who have never been injured, and the more common thing is the runners who have recurring injuries. If you're a runner and you have never been injured, I tip my hat to you. Unfortunately I am not one of those people.
When I started running in 2006, I'd never run more than two miles at a time. I was a sprinter in high school, and I decided it would be brilliant to go from not running for years to training for a marathon. I'm a genius. Four months into marathon training, in an otherwise uneventful eight mile run, I felt it - the knee twinge.
I took a few days off, tried to run again, and ouch. I went to see a sports medicine doctor (who is amazing), and he said it was IT band. What the heck is your IT band, you may ask? Good question because I didn't know then either. Now we are old friends. Basically it's the tendon that runs from your knee to your hip, and it's a common running injury.
What's the cure for this, you ask? Another great question - there is none. In 2006 I did about three months of physical therapy (PT) and then had a cortisone shot before my first half (the full marathon dreams at that point dashed). I did run two more half marathons that year, but my IT band was a nagging problem. I ended up taking a break from serious running for about two and a half years. I did some 5ks here and there, but I didn't train for anything longer.
In 2010 I decided to begin training seriously again, and that year saw the continuation of my IT band drama. The week before the Detroit Marathon I went to see my doctor who basically said I could run without irreparable harm, but it would hurt. It did hurt. A lot. After that race I ended up in PT for the third time.
Last year I dialed it back a bit. I did four half marathons, but I ran fewer training miles overall. Miraculously, for the first time since I started running, I was injury free. Other than the occasional tweak, my IT band was in check. It felt amazing.
This year the IT band has been okay as well (knock on wood). Unfortunately, in the last few weeks of marathon training this spring, I started having hip pain. Not just in one hip, but in both. It is unlike the IT band pain of the past, so back to the sports medicine doctor I went.
Fortunately this time it wasn't IT band. In the left hip I have an inflamed sacrotuberous ligament. Never heard of it? Who has? It runs under the glutes, and it is PAINFUL. I feel like an old woman when I stand up. This will be some fun PT.
In the right hip I've got an issue with my tensor fasciae latae (aka TFL) muscle, another hip muscle. Seriously - who knew we had all of these hip muscles to begin with?!?
As a result of these delightful new injuries, I start PT today for the fourth time in six years. Right now with every mile I run my hips are screaming in protest. But you know what? It's totally worth it.