Seven Days… Getting Worried

SEVEN days. Seven full days of no running. Might as well call it 8, because last night’s run doesn’t really count as a run. It has sucked, I’m not going to lie. Not only because I miss it and because I hate all other forms of cardio, but because I’m freaking out thinking about how I’m going to start losing my endurance that I’ve worked so hard for if this injury keeps me sidelined any longer.

If you missed my last few posts, I’ve been dealing with an IT band issue on the outside of my right knee. At first I wouldn’t notice it until a mile or two into a run, but now I can barely go 100 yards. It doesn’t bother me very much when I’m just walking or sitting for 8 hours at work, so I’ve been hopeful that it’s getting better.

I have done a little bit of the elliptical and the stationary bike, but I’ve been focusing more on strengthening and stretching my hips (the other end of the IT band) to speed recovery. If only I had been doing these exercises all along, I probably wouldn’t even be dealing with this injury. My advice: DO YOUR CLAMSHELLS.

I go on these little test runs every day with hope that I’ll be pain free, but I haven’t made it more than 100 yards or so without the same pain stopping me in my tracks. I’m ashamed to say that I usually run through injuries, but this is a “must walk or crawl immediately” type of pain. After my test runs I hobble back home and get upset and stressed about how I’m going to set myself back if I rest any longer.

On Thursday my test run felt better, so I went to the gym to try out the treadmill because it was too hot to run outside. Less than a half mile in I had to jump off. I finished up with 30 minutes on the elliptical and some strength training with a pouty face.

Dixie is not happy either. She is trying her best to help with recovery by snuggling and licking my knee.

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She will lay up against me while I do my leg lifts and then paw my leg as it comes down and she will lay her head on it. She doesn’t understand why I would want to do any sort of activity that doesn’t involve her…

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I told you how I obsessively research injuries and I think at this point I’ve officially read every article there is on ITBS and how to treat it. I’ve been to two local running stores searching out anything that I think will help and I’ve bugged everyone I know who has experienced this injury (thanks Susie <3). I’ve gotten new shoes and an IT band compression thingy, but the only thing I really need is patience.

Since I’m about at my limit of IT band knowledge, I’ve switched to a new obsession: researching how long I can go without running until I start to lose my fitness and endurance. I know riding the bike and doing other forms of cardio will help, but it’s still not the same as running. I’m grateful that I’m not completely sidelined and can still do some exercises without pain, but I’m getting worried. Most of what I’ve read says you won’t notice too much of a loss if you take 7-10 days off, but that it’s a very quick decline after more than 10 days. This is different for every runner and is based on how long you’ve been running and a million other factors, but it makes sense. So, I guess I have two more days until I go completely insane.

I know most runners experience injuries at some point during their years of training, so give it to me straight and be honest…

What was your most significant running injury? Did you feel like you lost your endurance? How long did it take you to feel like you were back in pre-injury shape? 

About Maddie @ Dixie Runs

I'm Maddie. I'm a long time runner who has finally decided to start training for my first marathon. I do a lot of running with my 3 year old redbone coonhound, Dixie. This blog is about our running adventures and a whole lot more.
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33 Responses to Seven Days… Getting Worried

  1. I had to take a month off from an Achilles injury.
    I spent a lot of time on the spin bike and was able to ease back into running. I didn’t feel like I lost a lot of fitness….thankfully!
    After about a month of running, I felt back to normal. 🙂

  2. Allison says:

    So here’s my advice. Rest now and cross train as often as you can and you will lose nothing. In 2014, I spent the summer running a LOT with the intention of smashing my marathon PR (at the time it was 3:31 or something). Fast forward to August: I couldn’t run one mile. I had a stress fracture in my tibia, and I had to completely stop running for almost 6 weeks. But I was running the Marshall Marathon in November – meaning when I was able to return to running I had about 4 weeks to get my shit together. After not running for 6 weeks, 4 weeks hardly seemed like enough time to be ready for a marathon – let alone set a PR or try for a BQ. I cross trained like crazy and come race day, I ran a 3:24. After than, I got my marathon PR down to a 3:06 by June. I really believe it was that 6 weeks off that helped – and it will help you too! I highly doubt you will need that much time but make the most of the time off! You will get through this, sister!!

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks Allison!! What kind of cross training did you do? Did you stick to one thing or mix it up?

      • Allison says:

        I often train like a triathlete so I got on my bike (I have a road bike) and went swimming a lot. I would also aqua jog which is SO BORING but super, super effective. My good friend Ashley ran Chicago on a completely broken (like clean break) metatarsal (she didn’t know it was broken, just painful and ran anyway) and was in a boot and had to stop running from October – January and aqua jogged like crazy and came back and has PR’d in basically everything this year. So if you can get to a pool, I can give you some workouts to try! Basically I biked, swam and aqua jogged in place of what I’d planned as workouts. I HATE the elliptical but people love it and use it when injured. Also, when I was practicing yoga today I stumbled across this video and thought of you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHAzORjclzk

        It was only 16 minutes and a good IT band stretch which can never hurt so I tried it to see if it would be good and something I could recommend to you, and I liked it. Give it a try! Also foam roll the crap out of it.

        Also, you might see that I do MYRTLs almost daily in my posts. They include clamshells – but it is a quick 5 minute hip workout that is so, so effective. It might be worth incorporating into your day: http://njsportsmed.co <— that is the pdf, but if you need to see what they are asking you to do: http://www.flotrack.org/video/334927-coach-jay-myrtl-routine#.Vc5WVre_Uzw

  3. Amy Lauren says:

    I had to take 7 weeks off running due to an injury last summer (it was actually a stress reaction). I did spin and BodyPump the whole time. I didn’t always *enjoy* spin, but I knew it would help me keep my endurance so I tried not to complain and I did it. If nothing else I made some new friends going to the classes so that was fun. If you can go to a class for cross training, I highly suggest that because at least it’s a social experience then and the instructor might make it fun. I don’t think I could last too long on a bike by myself without going crazy (I’ve tried). But, I hope you find some relief soon and can run again.

  4. Suzy says:

    Well, they weren’t exactly injuries per say but I didn’t run for most of my pregnancies and I came back just fine! Yes it was tough for the first month or two but honestly, that was about all it took after being off for months. And, I’m way older than you. I too run through injuries, though. The little ones. For instance, I have a huge cut on the bottom of my foot right now and I’ve been popping Advil, layering bandaids on it and running anyway. I think it’s changing up my gait just a bit as I’m a bit sore on the outside of my calf but nothing to write home about. Hoping these 7 days go by fast for you and that they do the job to heal you up so you can get right back into running again!

  5. You are so welcome, I’m sorry that you are still dealing with this so acutely. This is so obnoxious and frustrating. For now, keep talking to you PT friend, doing your exercises, and I will keep my fingers crossed. Again, I’m here if you need anything. <3 love love

  6. I was off for about 3 weeks with my IT Band pain but when I was able to start running again it only took me about 2 weeks to get back to normal:) I can totally relate to your fear and frustration but you’re so right – patience is key here!! Keep sticking it out with your cross training and strength work and you’ll be back to rip top shape in no time! My fingers are crossed for you! 🙂

  7. Ariana says:

    Go here, find a provider: http://www.activerelease.com/providerSearch.asp

    Then go get some ART to speed up recovery! I took about 8 weeks off this winter for a strained hip flexor, I couldn’t even cross train (It was a freak dog-walking injury, not a running injury). About 4 weeks back to running and I felt like myself again – just don’t go back into it expecting the same speed you had, that will take a little time to return. Rest is really the best thing! I’d say 8 weeks in I had my speed back. You’ll be fine!

  8. Aww, Maddie. I’m really sorry for you that you’re going through this.

    I am just like you – I too would be obsessively researching the injury, the recovery, how long you can go without running, etc until I found that elusive answer which made everything better. But the thing is – everyone is just different. Some people can pop right back up to peak form after taking time off, others struggle for weeks, even months, to get back to their same level of speed and endurance. As frustrating as it is for researchers like us, the fact is that you’ll never really know for sure until you find out for yourself. I hope you take comfort in the comments above from people who have rebounded from injuries and time off to come back better than ever.

    Try to seek the silver lining in your hiatus and remember the benefits of taking time off – not just physically, but mentally as well. There’s something to be said about giving yourself a chance to miss running again. Time off helps us reflect and regroup emotionally and I think a lot of the reason people are so successful after coming back is that they’ve had time to recharge mentally and thus they return with a renewed sense of passion and commitment to their goals and a reminder of how important running is to them (ever heard the saying, “you don’t know how much you loved something til it’s gone”?).

    Okay, I realize I just wrote a novel. But long story short: hang in there. If you can’t beat your setback, join it: embrace the silver linings and keep putting your best foot forward. If things really do happen for a reason then there must be a reason for this, after all!

    • Maddie says:

      You’re so right Hanna!! I can’t help but feel a little stress but I know it’s going to end up being a good thing.

  9. You will get to where you were! I am sending sunshine thoughts your way. I haven’t had anything severe but did suffer from a little runner’s knee 3 weeks before my first marathon. Now I do clamshells and glute bridges on the regular. My dog Chloe also doesn’t know how to leave me alone when I’m on the floor. In fact she hogs the yoga mat when I get it out.

  10. Awww, I’m sorry to hear your still injured! At least sweet Dixie is doing her best to help. 🙂
    I had an ankle injury that kept me on the elliptical on and off for 7 months and really didn’t get better until I saw a PT. But, when I was able to run again, my speed and fitness came back fairly quickly since I had been doing cross-training. There’s a really great Runner’s Connect podcast (http://runnersconnect.net/running-interviews/webb-brown-huey/) from a few weeks back on cross-training – it does a lot more for keeping running fitness than we think! Several amazing athletes have set PRs after doing most of their work in the pool or on the bike due to injury.

  11. runnergirl says:

    I am so sorry you’re having to deal with this injury, and I feel your pain! I had to quit running several years ago due to a string of injuries, and I’m just now working up to giving running another try. I’ve been doing a lot of research on aqua running because I’m worried about the old injuries flaring back up. I was just wondering if you have considered running in a pool to keep up your endurance while you heal? There are a lot of good articles out there about it if you’re interested. Good luck. I hope you have a quick recovery!

  12. Melanie says:

    The worst injury I had was a stress fracture ehen I first started running. Too much too soon and I ignored the pain. Not good. I was not allowed to run for 2 months maybe. I did everything else I could to stay fit: spin classes, yoga, weights, etc. I rode the bike a lot. It was a blessing though in retrospect. I listen to my body more now. I found other really good activites that I would not have done otherwise. I also came back a lot stronger. My body appreciated the rest. Hang in there!! I know it seems like an eternity when you can’t run. You’ll be back better than ever!

  13. I’m so sorry lady! Look into Pool Running. Janae at Hungry Runner Girl did a lot of pool running before a marathon when she was injured. You’ll be able to keep your fitness without the impact of the ground. Try it out!

    • Maddie says:

      I stalked all of her pool running posts and it seems like a great idea for cross training!! It’s one of those weird things I’ll have to go out of my comfort Zone to try but it would be worth it. Unfortunately the pool at my gym is closed for renovations for the next week, but if I’m still out of commission after that I’m definitely going to give it a try!

  14. Luckily (knock on wood) my last “injury” was way back in high school. I had some really intense knee pain that no one could seem to identify, but it was so debilitating that I quit soccer and track my senior year. Then it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t do those things because I had so much else to focus on. Now, when I go periods without running, I always get worried about losing my fitness level, so I can relate there. Even though there are all these time frames out there, I feel like you have been training long enough that it will take more time for you to lose it. And if you keep yourself doing those other activities, cross training, I bet you will be good. I also like Nona’s idea of pool running!! Good luck!!!!

  15. Oh no! Sorry to hear that. STAY POSITIVE!! You’re body will quickly recover once it’s ready.

  16. I know it’s the last thing you want to hear (and the thing you know rings most true deep down), you just have to give it time.

    I had to wimp out on a handful of my training runs. And once I realized it wasn’t getting any better I had to stop and just give it time. I took off two weeks, and came back feeling much better.

  17. Brittnee says:

    I have that same support strap, do you think it’s helped at all? I had a horrible round of ITBS earlier this year and it knocked me totally out of the marathon I was training for and the half wasn’t an option either. It was sooo frustrating!! It took over a month to go away and then I eased back into running. I bought the strap thinking I would need it, but I didn’t. I’d been running strong for the last couple of months and bam, today it’s back and stopped me in my tracks and I had to try to walk home 🙁 I did the Active Release Therapy this spring and also Graston. It hurt soooo bad and made my entire leg bruise like crazy, but I definitely think it sped up my healing at that point in time. Hang in there!!!!

    • Maddie says:

      Ugggghhhh I feel your pain, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with the same issue! The strap doesn’t do much for me honestly. I wear it when I’m walking and strength training, but as soon as I start to sweat it gets uncomfortable and slides around. I have been using K Tape that works much better!!

  18. Rebekah says:

    Hi there -relatively new reader and first time commenting! You’re probably totally “over” the advice at this point but I’m a sports medicine practitioner and have worked with thousands of athletes over the years evaluating, treating and rehabilitating injuries. I am no stranger to IT band syndrome and am a runner myself so I understand how frustrating and anxious this time of injury must be for you. I also write an injury blog for a major corporation so hopefully my advice doesn’t fall on deaf ears. 🙂 I tried to read through most of the other comments to see what advice you’ve been given…lots of great thoughts and all potentially just the thing to get you over the hump. However, there are a few idiosyncrasies about the IT band that are less commonly understood, even by people that work in this profession. Ha! While weak glute max & med are alarmingly weak in most runners (and people in general) it’s probably not “why” the distal IT band started getting inflamed. Biomechanics are certainly not ideal when these muscles are weak, but I’m betting another issue is to blame. When the IT Band is pulled taut, the portion right around the knee basically rubs against the outside of the femur more than it should and over time becomes irritated and inflamed. Foam rolling this band CAN help but you have to figure out WHY it’s being pulled tight. A LOT of times, it’s the adductors (groin/inner thigh muscles) that are so tight themselves, they cause the knees to deviate inwardly/towards each other. This pulls the IT band very tight on the outside of the leg. The hip flexors (front of the hips) as well as the inner aspect of the calf muscles can also contribute. So here’s what I would do: Foam roll upper half of outer thigh, full length of inner thigh & front of hip/thigh. When you foam roll these areas and come to a tender uncomfortable area, hold over each spot for about 30 seconds. This allows the brain time to communicate with the tight adhesions/knots in the tissues eliciting a reflex to relax. Then continue down to the next spot and repeat the process. Obviously treating every single tender spot could be time consuming so just treat 3-4 spots over each of the muscle groups (outer, front, inner thigh). You should do the same with the calves but I usually recommend using a tennis ball over a foam roller here. Don’t forget to stretch after foam rolling ESPECIALLY the hip flexors, quads and inner thighs and calves! (Do not forget the calves!) The IT band is not a muscle so it’s not very responsive to stretching. Certainly keep strengthening your glutes a regular part of your routine going into the future but my thoughts are that its 100% not what’s going to “heal” you right now. It’s going to be the mobility work…find those adhesions, get rid of them, and stretch the tissues and work on opening up your hips. Hope this helps and please don’t hesitate to email me if you’d like to chat more! 🙂
    Rebekah

    • Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to give me all of this info!! You have no idea how much I appreciate it. I have been noticing tightness in certain areas as I’ve been foam rolling more and more so I’ll try to focus on loosening up those spots like you said. I really like using a tennis ball or golf ball on certain areas because I feel like I can dig into the muscle a little bit better. Everything you said makes perfect sense… Once I start to understand what is causing the injury I feel more in control of recovery which relieves SO much stress. Thank you x10000!!! What is the injury blog that you were talking about? I’d love to check it out.

  19. Brandee says:

    Wow, first I have to say a huge THANK YOU to Rebekah’s comment!!! VERY helpful to me too as I’m battling ITBS, and so very frustrated. I’ll just add that mine comes and goes and what’s helped so far is Dry Needling (by a licensed Chiropractor) and ART. My pain is always on the lateral side of the knee too and both legs. I’m going to do what Rebekah suggested above and I’ll bet I’ll see much improvement. I’ve spent a fortune at my chiroprator’s and he’s never suggested what she has. Hang in there, I hope yours heals soon and you have a really great race!!

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks, best of luck with your treatment as well! It’s such a common injury but seems to impact each runner so differently. I wish you a speedy recovery!

  20. Maddie! I read about your IT band injury but was so busy with family never got to commenting. I struggled with the same thing during training for my first marathon. All I can say is be smart about it (which I’m sure you are). Please please please take care of yourself first and don’t stress about missing out on some of your training runs. You still have enough time that you can make a recovery before the race. Mine unfortunately started about 3 weeks before the marathon and I did not have time to heal. It made for a terrible race and I was in physical therapy for 3 months afterwards repairing my IT band. They had me foam rolling my IT band also did deep tissue massages on the hot spots which you can definitely do yourself, and then ice for 10-15 minutes afterwards. Also, squats and clam shells like you said, are your best friend. And if you have a resistance band put it around both of your ankles and walk across a room sideways in a squat position (the band should make it hard to pull your feet apart) It’s all about strength!

    Have you ever tried KT tape? It might be all in my head but it seems to help my injuries a lot too! I feel your pain (literally) and I sincerely hope you are feeling better since you posted this. IT bands can be HUGE jerks!

    • Maddie says:

      Oh wow, 3 weeks before!? What a bummer. I would be so upset. I feel like it came at a good time because I’ve taken almost two weeks off and I feel much better, but I know I’m going to have to ease back into training, which I still have time to do. Since my race isn’t until November 14 I should be okay as long as I don’t make it any worse. I’ve been foam rolling, massaging, squatting and clam shelling like crazy, so I hope it gets better soon. Also, I just bought some K Tape and it really did feel better when I went to the gym last night. I only ran a half mile, but that’s when I started feeling pain so I stopped right away.

  21. Jason says:

    I’ve had some winners over the years, I think it comes with the territory. Usually, if I miss one day of running, I’m convinced that I’ve lost all my endurance. Fortunately, that isn’t the case 🙂 You’ll be back soon! Also, I’m just catching up here but I’ll offer a little wisdom – I used to do test runs exactly like you’re doing. Now that I’m old, I mean experienced, I’ll say that I think they’re a lousy idea. If you’re dealing with an inflammation/irritation issue, a test run could be enough to aggravate it… and what do you get out of it? Nothing. If you keep having issues, I’d try and hold off on them (even though I know it sucks).

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