Photo: Pensiero, Flickr Creative Commons
I'm finally starting to see (although it's still a tiny image off in the distance just starting to come over the horizon) one of the real problems for serious athletes. Professional athletes, especially those in the endurance sports, have to walk a fine line of training enough and not over-training to the point their performance suffers from going too hard too often. I've only recently gotten anywhere close to having to worry about cutting back.
Until the last few weeks, I've gotten nothing but entirely beneficial effects from running. My formerly slightly iffy knees no longer creak and ache. I'm sure a large part of that is the 40 lbs I no longer carry. I'm sure another part is a strengthening of the stabilizing muscles around the knee. The irony here is that it's my damn knee, the left one, that currently worries me. I have what is likely a mild case of tendenitis in the back of my left knee. I irritated it doing an accidental 10-mile run three weeks ago. Until then, my progressively longer runs had gone great. No pain except for the mild muscle soreness that one expects from newly strenuous activities. Then, I misjudged a route and jumped from 8 miles one weekend to 10 the next. I wasn't quite ready for that distance and that night my knee really ached. Ever since then, every time it felt like the knee was back to normal, I'd run again and aggravate the injury, although never to the same extent.
I'm really not surprised that I'm suffering an over-use type injury at the moment. I broke my personal record for distance easily last month with 65 miles in one month. This month, despite taking off several planned training days for a combination of dysentery*, the tendinitis, and conflicting obligations I've already run 40 miles and if I stick to my remaining training schedule I should finish off the month at just under 100 miles for October. This is getting expensive. I've already worn out the running shoes I started wearing in late May (and I suspect them as being part of the problem with my knee) and had to order a new pair last week. This will be the third pair I've worn this year.
I'm hoping I'm passing through the tendinitis issue, though. I ran 9 miles yesterday and the knee didn't feel any worse. There was a touch of soreness yesterday, but today I feel fine. I'm hoping I can keep up with the rest of my training as planned. The half marathon is less than three weeks away. After the half marathon, I will be cutting back on the running. I'll go back to 2-3 days a week from the current 5-day-a-week schedule, partly so I can get back on the bike. I think I may keep up the habit of a long run on the weekends, though. I kind of like knocking out 10 miles in less than an hour and a half.
Also, if you're aware that my wife is pregnant, it's probably going to be a girl. May she burn the cities of Rome to the ground.
* This is not a joke. I actually had a type of dysentery and lost about 8 lbs in 24 hours. I made sure to stay hydrated but didn't eat a lot for the three days I had it the worst. I missed two days of work and running, yet on the fourth day, still feeling exhausted from three days of negligible nutrition, I went out and ran three miles. It seemed like I got stronger as I ran.