For the last year and a half of my running career, I’ve suffered on and off from runner’s knee ( patellofemoral syndrome ). My doctor diagnosed it pretty quickly and sent me off to PT after my first marathon. I developed the knee pain during marathon training, and I dealt with it by wearing a knee brace that I bought at CVS. I avoided going to the doctor until after the marathon, assuming that she would tell me to cease and desist on the training.
The knee pain is never debilitating for me, and worse yet, it doesn’t actually hurt while I’m running. I start to notice it when I’m going up and down stairs, and my knee will ache periodically during the day. When I first went to PT, my physical therapist told me that the muscles in my outer thigh were stronger than the muscles in my inner thigh, and that caused my knee cap to be pulled off track, causing the pain. She gave me a bunch of exercises to help strengthen my legs, and combined with no running, my knee pain started to go away.
When I first moved to Berkeley and started running again without my knee brace, I started to get the same pain in my left knee. My physical therapist had told me to avoid using the brace, or to use a brace on both knees so I didn’t develop any more muscle imbalances. It was really frustrating to have the pain reappear with my running. I cut back my mileage drastically, only running two days a week. I committed to going to yoga several times a week, and I started taping my knee with kinesio tape. I had signed up for the Oakland Half Marathon when we first got to Berkeley, and I really wanted to be able to run it, pain free.
I was worried about being able to run a half marathon on only two days of training per week, but I decided that I’d rather run the race slow and pain free, then speedy and unable to run again. I got to the starting line pain free. The combination of yoga, less running, and kinesio tape definitely worked for me. I haven’t looked into the science behind kinesio tape, and for all I care the bright blue tape on my knee could have only a psychological effect as long as my knee doesn’t hurt. I just know that the tape works for me.
I ran the Oakland half in 2:19, which is slower than both of my other half marathons, but I was thrilled. I had a blast at the race and loved how the city of Oakland came out to support all the runners. My knee didn’t even hurt after the race when I had to take the stairs down to BART.
Since the Oakland half, I’ve ramped my running back up, while maintaining the yoga and continuing to tape my knee. I’m still very nervous about reinjuring my knee, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ve figured out a formula that works for me. This was my first week back up to 20 miles per week. I have my sights set on the See Jane Run half marathon in Alameda in June, and then the Summer Breeze half marathon at the end of August. I’m crossing my fingers that my knee will see me through to these races pain free!