Runner’s knee

Dear Internets, I need some advice.

It all started after the Scenic City Half Marathon in February. I ran really well, and I had tired legs to prove it. On my runs during the following week, I took it easy. That is, except for my long run the next weekend. I had 15 miles on the schedule, and decided to run a 10-mile, hill-laden stretch of Iroquois Park as part of this. That was a mistake. Going up the hills was no problem. Coming down them really put a ton of pressure on my knees, and I felt a twinge of pain I hadn’t ever experienced before. Twice. Every run since then has been an exercise in caution. The pain happens randomly. Not often, but enough for me to second guess every single step. And when you’re running in the high teens, that’s a lot of steps and a lot of worry.

On a 17-mile run last weekend, my legs had completely locked up by mile 14. I walked every quarter mile for the last three miles. I’m almost 100% certain my legs were tight because I was tensing up with every step. And after my short run on Thursday (just four miles), the aching pain stuck around after I was finished.

That was enough to convince me to take a break. I know, I know. Rest is a four-letter word for runners, but I’d rather take a break now than not be able to finish my marathon in May. I plan on taking off the rest of the week and modifying the remainder of my training schedule to hopefully get through this thing. And so, this is what I’m doing.

I also know runner’s knee is generally caused by weak hip abductor muscles. I had been doing some of these exercises nightly, but I got lazy and stopped. I’m a believer that they were working, so I’m now doing them three times a day.


Bridge with leg lifts.
These start with a traditional bridge position. Then I hold myself up with one leg and raise my other leg up and down. I do this 40 times on each side.


Standing side leg extension.
I do these with a resistance band. 25 times on each side.


Lying leg extension.
I do these with a resistance band. 25 times on each side. Sometimes I modify this with a clamshell position.

There isn’t a ton of training left before my marathon, so needless to say I’m reluctant to skip any additional long runs. I am altering the schedule to help me ease back into the regimen.

18 miles – > skipped
13 miles – > 7 miles
20 miles – > 15 miles
13 miles – > 13 miles
20 miles – > 20 miles
12 miles – > 12 miles
8 miles – > 8 miles
26.2 miles – > 26.2 miles

Foam roller – I’m also using a foam roller once in the morning and again at night.
Aleve – I’m not a big fan of taking medicine, but I have taken some Aleve to reduce the inflammation.
Ice – I’m icing my knees at least twice  a day for 20 minutes.

And that’s it. I tend to freak out, and the runner in me just wants to ignore it and keep pushing on. I know that’s not the right answer, though.

I’m open to advice here. Have you ever experienced runner’s knee? If so, what did you do to take care of it? Is a week off enough time to keep it under control, or should I take longer? What else could I be doing to speed up the healing process?



10 responses to “Runner’s knee

  1. You may try a physical therapist. I had IT band issues several weeks before my marathon and they gave me all the exercises you are doing above but they also scraped my leg and foot. Seemed to help a lot. I hope your knee feels better.

    • Thanks, Heidi. I saw a PT last year for an IT issue, and that’s where I got the exercises. Here’s hoping one week will clear it up!

  2. If you can afford it, I highly recommend a good massage by a sports massage therapist. I have had wonders done with proper treatment. They can really help get in and work out scar tissue, knots, and other funky things that build up after an injury.

  3. Do you have a foam roller?? I had trouble with my IT band it that thing works wonders! You can find them almost anywhere…Walmart, Target, Dick’s, etc.

  4. In addition to some of the suggestions above, I would recommend stretching. A good PT will show you what to do. Good luck and stay patient!

  5. Sorry to hear about the knee issues but it looks like you’re doing everything you can right now so keep up with that and try to stay positive. Having been dealing with my own issues for 5+ months, I totally understand the frustration. It’s moments like these that will really add to your appreciation of what your body can do. Get well soon!

  6. Whenever my knee starts acting out, I either replace some runs with stair climbs or the stationary bike. But that’s just me — you do what works best. Fortunately you still have some time to improvise before Cincinnati. Best of luck with the recovery Mr. Goodman.

  7. Try to schedule an appointment with a Physical Therapist. My aunt is a PT (and a runner) and I remember her telling me about runner’s knee. I suggest you schedule an appointment coz they are very knowledgable when it comes to runner’s problems. 🙂

  8. Sorry to hear about your injury Glenn. That sucks! It might seem a little odd, but I like to run in a pool when something hurts. There’s no way to track your mileage, so you just have to go for time. You can experiment with what feels the least awkward for you; running in the water how you normally do, or try holding a 5 lb or 10 lb weight a few inches out from your chest to sort of pull you forward. Good luck!

  9. Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions and comments. I was able to get through 16 miles this weekend without any pain, thank God.

    One thing is for certain. I’m going to bump up the crosstraining.

    Happy running!

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