After my failed virtual half marathon, I was determined to come back for a second attempt within a few weeks. It’s been six weeks and it’s time for an update.
In short (long version in the race report here): I ran my half marathon attempt with an annoying little niggle in my right knee. It wasn’t really painful, but it was there each step I took. It slowly progressed to a dull pain, but it was still easy to ignore. Right until about 10K into my planned course where I returned towards an uneven path and I felt the first sharp pain. I tried stretching, I tried walk breaks, but eventually I realized I wouldn’t even come close to a PR if I would continue this way and I might even do some real damage on the way as well. I left the course at 11K and returned home.
My first visit to my physical therapist confirmed my suspicion, too much tension in my back and neck that likely caused imbalance and eventually the pain my knee. My workload at the (home) office increased and stress had been adding up. I usually feel that first in my neck and then it continues to my back. I know this and it happens every year at the same time, so I should be able to do more to prevent it.
I can still run, easy runs are great and almost entirely pain free. I added a goal pace run to keep my half marathon pace fresh, but after about 10 minutes the pain in my knee came back. I slowed down and the pain went away. Speeding up, it came back again. Next time, instead of a goal pace run, I’d do goal pace repeats. A few minutes at goal pace, a few minutes at easy pace, etc. That went well for about five repeats, but during the sixth repeat I felt the pain coming back a bit again. Seems like I found my limit for now. In the meantime, I’ve made a new goal, I’ll run my second half marathon before the end of the year! But I don’t feel quite ready to announce that to the world just yet.
I run two or three times a week, a lot less as the four times a week I’d been doing for the last months. This feels like the limit for now. My work is also demanding more time of me, which is also increasing my stress levels. I try a shortish long run: 8K. The idea is to keep up the distance and slowly build back up to my half marathon. I finish the 8K, but my back starts to hurt near the end. Not a good sign.
The back pain sticks around. I only feel it at specific moments but running is definitely one of them. I’ve done three runs in the last three weeks, all of them were too be painful to be enjoyable. My last attempt was a 5.4K trail run. I thought the softer surface would be easier on my back, and it was. But not enough. I had my first forced walk break after only five minutes. I walked and stretched until the pain went away and continued on my way, hoping it would ease up. It didn’t, the walk breaks became more frequent and longer, so I turned around and went home.
That was one week ago and that’s still where I am. I’m making some progress at physical therapy, but it’s not translating towards my running just yet. I’m frustrated that I can’t run, and I don’t know how to fix it. I do know that I will not be running my second half marathon this year. Next year. I’ll be focusing on getting back to running carefree.