Starting the Week with Knee Pain?

Me after my run on Friday afternoon.

My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” The last thing I need right now is knee pain. I’ve been making great progress on my runs, and I’m finally at a point where I can run and not feel pain after a run; just a nice, even “good” burn. You know, the way your muscles are supposed to feel after exercise.

But this morning, I have a bit of pain in my right knee. It started actually on my last run in the last tenth of a mile. I was lucky that it was the end of my run, so I didn’t give it much thought. I figured it was just me being tired at the end of a run, and the pain went away completely until just before bed last night when I stepped wrong or did something (I honestly don’t remember) and the pain shot back. I took a Motrin and went to sleep, hoping it was an anomaly.

Nope. Still hurts.

I’m being careful on it, and against what some would call better judgment, I will try to run on it later today. I will take a very slow pace (much, much slower than usual) to just try to move for 30 minutes. I have drill this week and I will have to run a few times for sure, so I can’t just stop running.

Pain comes in three varieties for me. They are exercise pain or what I call phantom pain, bad pain (injury), and good pain (“The burn”).

Phantom Pains are those that pop up just after I start a run. These manifest as a pain in my shins, my knees, ankles, heel, or other areas of my legs that mimic injuries, but aren’t. They’re my body’s way of being sneaky and saying, “Dude. We don’t need to do this. Running isn’t something we should be doing right now. Let’s chill.” Fortunately, I know what my legs are up to, and I don’t trust them, so I keep running. Sure enough, the pain goes away, and I’m able to run normally.

Bad pain is an actual injury. If something starts to hurt, but not really badly, I know it’s a phantom pain. If the pain is very sharp, hot, and shooting, then I know it’s an injury, and I stop immediately. These indicate a serious problem, and sometimes medical attention. The bad pain is what I try to avoid at all times and is why I’m especially careful with my progress to keep from pushing too hard.

Good pain is what people call, “The Burn.” This is the good feeling you get after a good workout. This is what people chase when they start getting addicted to working out. It’s actually a very satisfying feeling, and I get it. There’s also the good pain you get while running: exerting your muscles beyond normal daily usage can bring about a soreness while you do it, but again, it’s a good pain.

The pain I’m feeling this morning is more like phantom pain, but I won’t know until I start running. Once I run, if it’s an injury, it’ll shoot through my knee like a bolt of electricity, and I’ll stop immediately. Otherwise, I’ll run through it, and once it goes away (hopefully), I’ll increase my pace and run out the rest of my scheduled run.

Today looks like the weather will be nice, so I may actually run outdoors today. I could have run outside all week last week, actually, but I’ll have to be honest that I preferred running on the treadmill in our gym because it has a TV in front of it, and I was watching a series on Overlanding which is very interesting to me right now. It also felt a bit safer in the event I needed to stop running for some reason; I’d just have to jump off the treadmill and I’m already home.

Health and fitness go hand in hand. Even though I lost 110 lbs without any exercise, I felt much better once I did start running. My body composition improved greatly, and it transformed the way I looked from “Soft” to a more fit me. There was even a distinct change in my face about two or three months after I began running even though my weight didn’t change much.

Use those muscles. Do something. Anything. I’m not asking you to become a marathon runner or a weightlifter. But I am asking that you do something active. You will learn to enjoy it, and you’ll definitely appreciate it. Best of all, your heart will be better for it, and it’ll even help you psychologically.

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