Last night was my big (free) consultation with the running coach. It started off well, I got there early and quickly noticed I was literally 400 feet (according to the Garmin) from my friend Gerry's apartment so I decided to visit her first. I'm sure she was quite confused about why I was 30 minutes from home on a random Tuesday night but I like to be surprising what can I say?
Overall the appointment was extremely productive. He had me fill out a bunch of forms listing what I normally do for exercise, health problems, running goals, etc. He asked me a lot of questions about when the pain started etc. It felt a lot more like a doctors appointment than a "running" appointment except that he did not focus on my knee at all. He explained that my knee problem probably has little to do with my knee so we have to figure out what is causing it. He did a serious of tests. I had to squat for 90 seconds (which I don't recommend doing for fun), squat with each leg in the air, do some calf stretching, he measured my arch height etc. He confirmed what others have said about my feet which is that they are not the issue.
My issue is apparently coming from my hip, back area. He is the first person to consider this possibility, everyone always looks at my feet! I am slightly imbalanced and lean to the left when I do things. No offense to my body but this is the WORST idea for my body ever since my right side is so much stronger than my left. It didn't sound like there was any miracle cure for being imbalanced but he did say that I can get my body better equipped to handle this imbalance. Also since my right knee does hurt sometimes when I run, the imbalance is not the cause of the problem, but simply the reason why my left knee bothers me all the time.
So, the actual problem? Tightness. He was pushing on parts of my legs and telling me it shouldn't hurt at all and I was about to cry in pain. Apparently, the most important part of my physical therapy was probably the foam roller and it was the part I was least serious about. Sure, I did the foam roller when I was about to work out or do my physical therapy exercises but he said I should be doing it as much as I possibly can, several times a day. Dear Parents, It may sound strange but your 5 year old will be learning a new technique called "foam rolling". Since Ms. Winn has to do it several times a day, we figured what better way to ensure that happens than to make it just as essential to the kindergarten day as reading instruction :)
I have to say, while he is the first to say it, this "diagnosis" is not shocking to me at all. I have never been a flexible person and add that to my overall hatred for all things stretching and you have an obviously injured runner. To give myself some credit, I have been stretching a lot more. I never work out without SOME stretch after. But is it enough? Obviously not.
Enter: THE PLAN.
- 1 high density foam roller (apparently mine is not serious enough, go figure)
- 10 minutes of foam rolling 2-3 x per day
- calf stretches 30 seconds, 3x per day
- quad stretches 30 seconds, 3x per day
- squat and hold 60-90 seconds, 2x per day
- yoga 2x per week
How am I going to fit this in? The plan is to do everything right in the morning, fit in more stretching while my kiddos are at recess (they won't notice, I already do laps around the playground sometimes), do an afternoon session any days when I am home early enough perhaps while I am making dinner and then do an evening session right before I eat dessert at night (I guess this means I'll need some dessert every night ha ha). I'm hoping if I make a habit of it, it will not seem so terrible. I also plan to make the time by easing up *a little* on my PT exercises. I am sure they are still important but not as important as this. Also it was kind of depressing how much I've been working my quad muscles and yet I was still dying trying to hold a squat for 90 seconds.
As for the running coach, we agreed that I would do this stuff for awhile until I am completely pain free. When that happens, I can choose to go back to him to have him help me get back into running safely, or I can try it out myself. The goal right now is to get there. I'll let you know how it goes :)