ode to an IT Band

“There was an old man called Michael Finn-egan,
Ran a race and tried to win again.
Got so puffed that he had to go in again.
Poor old Michael Finnegan. Begin-again.”

You know how you hear that intervals aren’t just for lung conditioning, that your bones & ligaments need to be ready for running again? You know you know this, but somehow you don’t realize this until you’re on a run?

Yeah, that was this week.

When I ran ~3.5 a couple of weeks ago I, admittedly, was like OK, I’m fine to go.  There were a few stops to stretch, but I didn’t read anything into them  – or the days when I couldn’t do more than a mile without pain. The light bulb finally went on last weekend.

Running to Central Park hasn’t been great for a variety of reasons – but primarily in this situation for the stop/start that comes with increased traffic and needing to cross six avenues to get to the Park. This came to a head on Saturday when I ran to meet Elizabeth, but then my knee was barking when we tried to re-start and I eventually bailed on the run entirely and we walked, which was fine. It was more about seeing one another after way too long.

I still didn’t realize fully what the issue was until Sunday when I ran a smidgen longer but then had to shut it down. Hmm, maybe I should walk to the park and save the ~mile that’s in my knee for the more cushioned reservoir. Duh

And then Tuesday I had another revelation. If I’m not meeting someone there, there’s no reason I have to run Central Park. I can run two blocks to the East River and run there. It’s a shorter distance back for when the knee goes nope, but there’s also less start/stop

About that knee who said nope...

When this was all starting in December I said I wasn’t particularly worried about the knee. I have good health insurance, access to doctors, etc. While access to doctors has been complicated, I’m still lucky to have access to a solid orthopedist.

We had a conversation about my dislike of antinflammatory meds. I will take tylenol if I have a headache, or advil if I think the knee/hip were going to keep me up, but I do not like to take meds routinely. I want to fix it so it doesn’t hurt. I think this is part of why I love the advil cream Darlene and I found in Bermuda. It gets the medicine to what hurts. But why does the IT Band hurt? Oh yeah, the side of my knee is still a puffer fish.

It’s a little less of a puffer fish and I was able to run more this week while increasing the PT reps back to where I was in February. Am I on the right track? I hope so. It’s all a crap shoot at this point.

Speaking of a crap shoot, my brain finally wants to read again. I finished Mike Walsh’s Bowling Across America, read the quick Cross Country by Rickey Gates and am now the last person on earth reading Dean Karnazes’ Road to Sparta. I’m really happy about this as I’d missed reading.

Linking up with Kim and Deborah for a short weekly run down:

  • never miss a Monday: couldn’t sleep, so long morning walk  before work to say hi to Alice and friends.
  • Tuesday: quick miles on the East River. With flowers! That weren’t tulips! This was solid until about 1.7 and then it started to hurt. I got to 1.9 and then I walked it off to hit two miles. This was when I had the interval epiphany.
morning loop, in the afternoon
mm. Cinnamon vanilla
  • on Wednesday we eat pancakes. My usual morning walk is to the Met and home via coffee. I can’t remember now (Saturday) why I went after work. Maybe I didn’t get out the door on time to get all the way there in the morning. Short term memory? What’s that? Someone recommended adding cinnamon to pancakes and winner, winner. So good.
“ My life is part humor, part roses, part thorns.”
  • Thursday: East River again, and I managed longer without pain. Dear knee, you’re weird. I love you. Flowers helped.
  • Friday: first day of summer hours meant I got in a nice walk before the 24 hour rain storm. Even though there have been fewer people around throughout this, there were even fewer people around Friday. It was nice to be comfortable and sit socially distanced and read.
is anybody out there?
fun with stock!
  • Saturday: did someone say rain? It was pouring and chilly, which was a great reason to stay in and read, which I did. I finally got out for my mandatory minimum walk to the Met, which felt good. And then I ended up in the grocery store because my tastebuds wanted salmon.
  • Sunday Funday RUNDAY: between the fog and it being slide down my nose season, I think the glasses are going to start staying home. I don’t do any post-run errands that require them. This run felt good. I had no plan, just to see if I could go a little longer than Thursday, and I did. Instead of finishing at Just Salad, it was iced coffee o’clock as spring temps and mask running made me thirsty. 7-Eleven’s isn’t as good as Dunkin, but beggars can’t be choosers. The Dr. Seuss mask isn’t ideal for running, but it worked.

No formal run plans for the week, but excited to do the Freihofer’s run “with” Darlene, Deb and Kim and in person with Elizabeth. STay tuned for photo silliness if weather cooperates.

37 thoughts on “ode to an IT Band”

  • I’m with you on the reading. I’ve been mostly just reading a few chapters a night but on Friday I found a good one and just sat down and binged it. I’m also with you on putting medicine where it hurts. I hope that avoiding the Central Park start/stops will give everything a chance to heal up.

  • I love the new blog re-design! I’ve been meaning to update mine. I guess now it as good a time as ever!

    Really sorry to hear about the knee/IT band pain 🙁 I know it’s been something you’ve been dealing with for a while. I hope that it starts to feel better soon. My glasses fog up when I wear some of my masks – it’s super annoying, especially since I use them for distance, lol.

    • I finally figured out the key to whether they’ll fog – and it’s not the spray. It’s the degree of pinch there is at the top. So lots of trial and error, but so far the paper ones are oddly the best at non fogging. They’re not the most comfortable, but they work. Mine are for distance too which always makes things fun — like reading lampost street signs if I’m doing a new to me route.
      I didn’t mean to update, but I like the end result. Thank yoU!

  • So many different things can cause IT/knee pain. For me tape & slowing down were big things on my road to recovery. Hope you continue to figure it out!

    You still got plenty of movement in this week.

    Yesterday was weird. We were hot & humid and almost no rain. My mom was cool & rainy.

    • the end of this week was supposed to be a washout. I think it only rained overnight friday into saturday. So weird

  • Sorry to hear about the IT band pain. It’s such an annoying injury! I’ve definitely dealt with it my fair share. My run streak is on day 71 and I’m definitely getting some new aches and pains that are making me consider throwing in the towel….especially since who knows when it will “end”, you know?

    Cinnamon pancakes sound delicious! It’s crazy to see NYC as ‘quiet’…

    • 71 days. WOW. Hope your aches and pains resolve so that you don’t have to stop before you’re ready to. I too think we’re sadly a long way from “ending” this. Cinnamon pancakes are amazing and will be a new thing.

  • Your knee and my foot should have a talk.

    I thought I figured it out. It hurt for the first mile and then got better. So I walked the first mile. Then I realized that when I got the shot after Bermuda, it stopped hurting for awhile Why did I hesitate? So I Got the shot and pain went away. Then today after 4 miles,it started to hurt again. Not as bad butit did for about 3 miles and then it stopped. Grrrrr.

    Enough complaining.I can walk. There are flowers!!
    If I run long next weekend, I may WALK the FRW 5k sometime this week.

    • I think they’ve been talking too much and is why we’re once again injury twins. 🙁
      I’m excited for the twinning and the hamming, regardless of how we move forward 5K. It will probably be a walk for me too especially if I run on Thursday. Won’t be ready by Saturday.

  • doing a short walk before running always seems to help me loosen up. Maybe that is a good idea for you too instead of the stop and start. Who know!? Whenever I think I have it all figured out…Sorry you knee is bothering you. Do you do a warm up? That is one of things I have to do now (although my knees/hips are a lot older than yours). Have a great week and thanks for linking!

    • When Marcia posted the warm up stuff a couple of weeks ago I realized that those were part of what kept me healthy during marathon training. I’ve started incorporating them on the block walk to where I start Strava, but you’re very right about a walk and I think that may help when I go back to Central Park. The post-coffee/dinner cooldown walk does help with the stiffness.
      We’ll both be on the mend soon I think/hope.

  • One thing I stumbled upon (not literally LOL) was doing stairs for a couple minutes as part of my warm-up. It gets the heart pumping, but the climbing activates all the muscles as well. You don’t have to “run” the stairs, just walking up them can suffice. For myself, on occasion I get a little “arrogant (?)” and don’t do much of a warm-up (if I’m short on time)… and almost always I pay for it. My disaster of a 5K last Monday would be a prime example LOL I hope the IT shapes up and plays nice 😉

    • I accidentally found out you were right. Last Saturday I got down the stairs (64!) only to realize I forgot my Garmin. Back up and down the stairs, and that was my first pain free run. I”m not sure I’m going to commit to that level of stairs daily, but there’s some truth in it for sure.
      Me too!

  • I just read City of Girls and loved it. Now I am reading influence chick lit (Big Summer) and mostly flicking through the pages to get to the end. I’m glad your knee is sort of under control. I’m not big on pain meds and am wary of taking NSAIDs to mask pain instead of deal with it, but sometimes you need to get that inflammation down!

    • Yep. That’s where I landed. Take the meds to get the swelling down and that will help the pain, rather than take the meds to make it stop hurting. That was the end of Dean K for me Friday. Just finish. Will look for city of girls

  • I’m so sorry about your ITB. I had that annoyance for a long time and it finally just went away. Ever since then I’ve been very diligent about stretching. I don’t want to have to deal with that again.

    I saw your review of Cross Country and i think I may read that for my book club next month! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • It’s a super short read, but I really loved that it was about the people rather than just the running. I think that’s what set it apart from Dean K and the other cross country runs. Plus Gates is way more of a character than Dean. Speaking of your book clubs, Running with Sherman is finally coming up in my library queue.
      Since re-committing to fixing it once and for all, stretching has become my religion. I feel it when I skip a session and actually got out of bed last night to do one because I knew otherwise I’d pay for it in the morning.

  • Here comes some coach tough love, because you know I love you: I think it’s time to shut it down completely for a bit. No more running until it hurts. It’s telling you it’s not ready and the last thing you want is a chronic ITB condition. I’d give it a week of solid rest from running and see how it feels after that. Don’t do stairs either. They’d be very aggravating to it at this point. Walking is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt. Rest, ice, foam roll. xoxo

    • Appreciate the tough love, and you are, of course, absolutely correct. xx

      I came out of no running too soon and had to go back in. In hindsight I should have shut it down the first week in April, but I went a week too long and kept testing it. I wish I could hire you.

      I unfortunately couldn’t cut out the stairs entirely, which would have helped immensely even during the first flare. It’s part of why I thought about going upstate. Stairs into the house but way fewer than here (64).

      He has me back icing and we’re trying to get approved for more PT once they open. Blessed “change in status”

  • I’m sorry you knee is still giving you trouble. Sounds like its a very frustrating injury. Hopefully you can figure out what feels good for you so it doesn’t hurt anymore. I noticed a little tightness in the side of my knee last week (which has never happened to me before) and I focused on rolling my TFL. I realized it was so tight! You’re probably already doing that, but just wanted to mention it.

    • when I first saw my PT for this injury in January, the PT Student doing her clinical suggested TFL involvement as well. I think part of what I miss about PT graduation was her getting into all the nooks and crannies. I’ll make sure to roll it too — have been focusing lately a lot on the calves who were getting tight. Again. We’re really just rubber bands it seems

  • I want to go to a place called “Just Salad.” It sounds amazing!

    I hope you can get a handle on that IT band. I don’t like taking meds, either, and I’m allergic to ibuprofen, so I’m limited anyway. I hope you are able to find your way to a pain free solution.

    • Just Salad is great. It’s not technically true to its name anymore as it has smoothies and wraps, but they’re all greens based and such variety. Sadly looks like closest one to you is Gainesville.

      Me too. Meaningless in grand scheme of what people are facing, but maddening personally.

  • Ugh that IT band! So sorry to hear it is still bothering you. It seems like most runners deal with it. Hope you find a solution soon so you can keep running. That Dr. Seuss mask! That is something I would love to have too! The other day my sister made pancakes and added walnuts. So good!!

  • Oh I’m so sorry for the continuing knee and IT issues. Sounds like some serious rest is in order. What does your ortho say? My hip started to misbehave recently, reminding me that I cannot slack on my PT exercises for even a second. Frustrating but necessary.

    • My ortho thinks I probably need an MRI to determine the exact issue beyond “IT Band”, but that’s not happening right now. If it were simple IT band he thinks PT would have helped/solved it. I think personally it was a slow healing issue that wasn’t ready for PT graduation. And yes, frustrating but necessary. Gentle healing to us both

  • You must be the next-to-last person on earth to read The Road to Sparta because I still haven’t read it yet. But I want to. I need some good running books for motivation. I want to comment about your knee and I really do feel sympathy for your pain but I keep thinking “Mmmm…cinnamon-vanilla pancakes. Yum!”

    • Cinnamon vanilla pancakes are absolutely more important and more interesting than my knee. I didn’t like Road to Sparta as much as I’d hoped, but I finished it. Now that I’m not as angry at my knee I may start to read more running books again. I certainly have enough on my Kindle and a few dead tree titles. I think Amanda Brooks’ Run to the Finish might be the next running book

  • Glad you’re back reading – hooray! And you will get there with the knee. I am just waiting for something to drop off me with running so often but I’m not actually running further per week so might get away with it.

    • it’s not funny — but I just have the mental image of you losing a body part. One you can function without — like an appendix or something. Just peacing out. Summer will be good for reading, I hope

  • My husband was just going through an issue with his knee. He’d wait two days until it felt better, then go out for a 4 or 6 mile run… which hurt it again. He finally just stopped running and has been using our elliptical a ton. I think it’s really helping him though and maybe soon he’ll be back at running again, but with shorter distances. I hope you can get your issue sorted out! Cinnamon in pancakes does sound pretty delish. I’ll have to give that a try sometime!

    • I think I’m going to stay in this 3-4 mile comfort zone as long as it lasts. I know in summer I won’t want to run longer anyway and I think parallel pathing strength and lung conditioning will be better for when I do want to increase. I’m glad your husband found relief in the elliptical.

  • I hope you’re on to something with your various epiphanies for what might be causing your IT band issues. A 1-mile walking warmup sounds like a good start to figuring things out.

    I’m looking forward to our 5K on Saturday, too!

    • It was so helpful today. And then the same cooldown going home. I was tight in the hips, but no actual pain. So glad to run “with” you.

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