Winter Knee Drama Part I

First, I want to thank everyone for your support of my fundraiser blitz in December benefiting Ironman for Kids. Every time someone joins me in giving I am encouraged more than words can express. You are all very, very special. I’m blessed to know you and look forward continuing through life’s journey with you.

My first 50 mile race is coming quickly, the Rocky Raccoon 50 (RR50) on February 5th. My training over the last month hasn’t been what I wanted. I don’t think I’m ill prepared, but I’m certainly not well prepared either. The primary culprit is a mild case of Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). The primary symptom has been tightness on the outside of my left knee. It’s only happened during runs on long mileage weekends. After taking a rest day, as I typically do after hard weekends, I never noticed any discomfort on subsequent weekday runs.

The Backstory

The first day I noticed the tightness was on the second of back to back 20 milers, November 14th. I didn’t give it much thought since it went away quickly. Then on Black Friday I ended up doing an impromptu 50km training run. I noticed some tightness in my knee about mile 19, but it didn’t worsen over the next 12 miles. Again, it was fine on my next run. It was just 10 days later I ran the White Rock Marathon and 6 days after that the Texas Trails 50km (TT50K). There may have been some tightness on these runs, but it wasn’t pronounced enough for me to notice it at all. I thought I was done with this minor annoyance.

Frosty Texas trails.

I took a full week off because of a sore spot that cropped up on the bottom of my right foot. Then, two weekends after the TT50K I began ramping up the mileage for a push to be ready for RR50. The day after Christmas I did 18 great miles with my brother. The following day is when things got interesting. I was going for another 18 miles. Everything went fine at first. I noticed a bit of tightness, but didn’t think much of it. Later I felt a little bit of pain for the first time and chose to walk some. I can handle pain and discomfort just fine, but up to this point in my running life, I’ve never run through pain. I decided this wasn’t going to be the day I started. I walked some. Then got cold, and ran back to the car without further pain. I ended up with just 13 miles.

I mostly maintained a positive outlook, but was bummed to get off to a poor start on the mileage push. For most of that next week, I considered taking the following weekend off entirely. I had originally planned back to back 20 milers. When Saturday came around and it was another perfect winter day in Texas for trail running, I couldn’t resist. As always I would listen to my body and stop if I needed to. I iced a lot that week and as usual didn’t feel any additional discomfort. Maybe I had this back under control?

It was New Year’s Day. And it was a great run… for the first 14 miles. I played leapfrog with a group of mountain bikers as they stopped frequently to rest. On one particular section it took them a while to catch me and I wondered if they had turned around. Finally they came along. I don’t think I was running much faster than my usual easy “run forever” trail pace. But they commended me on my pace. I replied that I was just having a great day. Everything was going very well. I made it back to the car at 13 miles and still no tightness.

To be continued… Read Part II
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  • Kelly Garman

    What?! You can’t leave your loyal readers hanging like that…..what is the rest of the story?

  • Anonymous

    It made for a nice cliff hanger, huh?

  • Peter Brunone

    Dang. I was hoping this was already a few days old.

  • Kelly Garman

    When can we expect the rest of the story…get writing!

  • DavidH

    Hey Matt, Sorry to hear about the ITBS. I recently found a blog by a Physical Therapist / Crossfit dude (Kelly) called MobilityWod that has really helped me a lot with a knee issue I had since Rocky Raccoon 2010. I have collected a few of the running specific WODs on my site and there is one specific to ITBS. You can check it out at:

    I also have a friend that is dealing with ITBS and after trying some of the stretches in the video, he noticed some positive improvement right away.

    Anyway just thought I would pass this along.

    Happy Healing!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the leads on ITBS recovery, David. I will definitely check them out. I knew you had been recovering from injury from following your blog and dailymile, but I didn’t know it was ITBS. I can’t wait till this is all in the past. Until then, I will continue to grow in patience and wisdom. :)