Which path to take?

Posted on: 26 Mar 2018

There are two paths in front of me, to the right a pretty firm gravel and dirt path, flat.  To the left a softer, grass and mud track, undulating. I take the flat as it’s less painful. The pain in my right knee is pretty bad. I know the rule, measure the pain from 1-10, if it’s a 3 or above you should stop. When I am travelling on the flat, concentrating on every footfall, the pain is around 5. If I step a foot wrong, or strangely, sometimes for no apparent reason, the pain spikes at around 10 and I find myself shouting out. I know I should stop but I can’t…

I’m not on a run, I’m just walking the dog.

When the path goes slightly downhill the fact that I am forced to walk with a completely straight right leg causes problems as it’s like I have to climb over my own leg, like it’s a stile. I try to pinpoint where the pain is so I can tell the physio; now it is around the back of the knee, now at the front immediately below the cap, now it is above, at the base of my quad. In short, there is a whole lot of pain all over and I’m feeling miserable.

Again I am reminded that marathon training can be such a cruel business. 13 weeks of near perfect training program, then this. Last week my 20 mile race, my last long run of the program ended in a pretty sore knee, but I hoped it was all quite manageable. Instead of Tuesday’s planned speed session I went for a gentle jog with Jenny, we did 4 miles and it was a really lovely run, we both said how much we had enjoyed it. But I knew something wasn’t quite right, just as I knew after the 20 miler.

I missed Thursday’s Tempo run and filled the week with stretching every day, core strength and a little light weights work. The knee felt better each day and as Sunday dawned I remember even feeling excited about the 15 mile run, it was a lovely sunny morning, we had worked out a slightly new route, this was going to be fun! Jenny went off 15 minutes before me and we planned to see each other a couple of times.

As I set off things felt good, I actually felt strong, I had intended on aiming for 8.30 min miles, or 9 if my knee played up. The first mile was perfect. But before I was far into mile 2 the knee began to hurt. I thought it would be fine, I thought it would settle down after a couple of miles. The day was beautiful, my music was good, I was so happy to be running! At one point I had to stop to check my phone; I wasn’t 100% sure on the route, and when I set off again the knee was instantly painful, but I kept going and it settled again. I caught Jenny around 5 miles but by now the pain was getting worse every time I paused. Jenny told me I should cut the run short and go home. It wasn’t hard to persuade me. I ran all the way home only because that way the pain would be over sooner and it hurt more to walk. Those 5 miles were the most depressing miles I have run for a long while. When I got home I spent an hour on the floor in a lot of pain. Tears were welling up as I considered the seriousness of my situation, was this how my training for Manchester and London was going to end? Was I going to have to pull out of another Manchester? Just when it seemed that sub 3.30 was within touching distance?

I couldn’t have done more this training plan, and it was all going so well. Now I am left wondering if I can salvage anything. I haven’t given up completely, from here I can see 3 or 4 different scenarios playing out:

  1. I ice, elevate, rest, go to the physio, find out exactly what the problem is, stop running for two weeks, (hell I’m tapering anyway!) I manage to fix myself just in time for Manchester. I run it at target pace and make sure I don’t stop, if it only hurts when I stop then I’ll worry about it at the end. This obviously is my favourite scenario!
  2. I find out from the physio that just under two weeks is not enough to attempt a marathon at all, especially not a PB. I pull out of Manchester and have 4 weeks of no running. I then run London and just hope it doesn’t hurt.
  3. I take up bog snorkelling.

I’ll keep you informed!




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