Lately, I have gone running and come back with a bit of a sore knee. I’ve also come back with chafed underarms, blisters on my feet, and numb legs, but it has been the sore knee that really grabbed my attention. I mean, that thing hurt.
Naturally, I did what any athlete in my situation would do: I ignored the pain. After all, the pain in my knee was just a badge of honour. It showed that I was tough. The stinging I felt when I walked down stairs was just proof that I was physically active. It was my initiation into the sport. The hobbling pain I felt while running was a test of my character. It was part of the experience. It was macho. It was a rite of passage. The pain was something to be carried with pride. The inflammation in my joints was proof of a better me.
The fact that my once confident stride had slowed to a mere shuffle was proof that I needed to start thinking differently about this injury.
I started describing my pain to fellow runners. I told them that there was a stinging senstation on the outside of my right knee. I thought that I would just get some info on how to make better use of stretching to avoid such a senstation in the future. I was in the market for nothing more than advice. Instead, I got something much worse: I got a diagnosis.
I have ILIOTIBIAL BAND SYNDROME! Last week, it was nothing more than a sore knee – now it’s a DISEASE! A disease with a complex name!!
In one fell swoop, I have gone from being a runner to being a patient. This is not a good situation. This is not what Plan A looked like! I am just going to have to make the best of it. Fortunately, there are some benefits to being stricken with Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS).
First, is the really cool name: Iliotibial. Iliotibial! ILIOTIBIAL! That is never going to get old! It’s like the verbal equivalent of popping bubble wrap. Iliotibial!
Second, it brings me another step closer to full initiation into the cult of running. I’ve already bought my running gear, run my first race, and used energy gels. Before I am a full fledged member of the informal–but very real–running cult, I still have to run a marathon, burn through a pair of shoes, and get an injury. I now have that last requirement taken care of, and my injury even has a convincing name. Before I got ITBS, I tried convincing other runners that I had survived the debilitating ravages of “Charley Horse”, and they just weren’t buying it.
Lastly, and most importantly, it forces me to learn a little more about taking proper care of a runner’s body. I am going to have to learn and practise some more and better stretches, and in the long run (no pun intended), that can only be good for me. And to be perfectly honest, the symptoms virtually always disappear within a day or two, so I should be able to overcome this little hurdle with no problems. And now I can brag about having overcome an injury, too!