Wednesday 4 May 2011


My knee is playing up.  Has been for weeks.  First time was the first Clapham 10K of the season.  It hurt for 6km of the 10km course and I ran through it.  It then felt fine and I got hit by a car on my bike resulting in both knees being pretty bruised on all sides and swollen on all sides with tangerine-sized lumps.  Shortly after that I ran a 5km Parkrun and it niggled a little but didn't particularly hurt.  So I thought it was all fine.

About 3-4 days after that, I did a training 5km run which hurt roughly 2km into it and I thought I'd just run through it like I did with the 10km race.  But it got worse.  And worse.  And then a LOT worse.  I slowed right down, then I couldn't even jog slowly, then even walking was excruciating to the point where the joint just didn't work right at all and started to buckle.  So I hopped hopped home, iced it and heated it and ate Ibuprofen like Smarties.  Next day, I could barely walk but I -had- to be at work, so I went in and tried to stay off it as much as possible.  Over the next few days it felt better and quickly was back to feeling normal.  So I thought I was going to be fine for the first Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon.  I always had in the back of my head that if it started to hurt, I'd pull up in the run.

Lo and behold, I put in a reasonable swim (a PB), then a good bike (another PB) and kicked off into the run.  My knee felt OK for the first 500m or so, then went downhill and I pulled up around the 1km marker and threw in the towel.  I stayed off it for a whole week in the vain hope that it'd be fine for the next Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon on the following Monday - 7 days after the first one.

I put in an even better swim (a new PB) and a monster (for me) cycle in gusting headwinds (another new PB), and I started the run feeling good.  Willing my knee to feel fine, it did for the first 750m or so and then headed South again.  Pulling up again, DNFing again, I was pretty sure it's a case of one quad being stronger than the other.  I decided I'm going to self-treat and do it properly this time.

My thinking... if I go to the doctor for a referral to a physio, the likely diagnoses are either runner's knee (which I can treat with ice, heat, ibuprofen and rest firstly and then work on strengthening my inner quad to realign the patella) or something worse which will take longer to fix.  So, by taking the next 4 weeks to self-treat and rehabilitate as if for runner's knee I'm really not losing out.  If it gives up in the next race after 4 weeks of Doing It My Way, I'll then go to the doctor for a referral.  I'm damned if I'm going to DNF every bloody triathlon this year and not run more than 1km without my knee telling me where to get off.


  1. Not that I know, but it sounds like runners knee to me. If rest doesn't fix it though then it might be worth seeing a physio to find out what the exact cause is? Or ask your trainer? Try doing 1-legged squats. I'm terrible at those -- my knee buckles in really badly on my weak side. It's a glute mede problem...

    I hope RICEing it helps anyway. Being injured sucks :-(

  2. In all honesty I'd be hot-footing it down to the physio now; you might well be right in that it's runner's knee, but if not, then my thinking would be that the sooner treatment gets started, the better.

    Incidentally, don't know if it's the case in your area, but up here you can self-refer to physios. Saves hanging around at the GP.

    Asking your trainer for advice is the other option, of course! My poor Pilates teacher must be sick of me waltzing in and reciting my current list of niggles and then expecting her to magically fix me...

  3. That sounds like a sensible plan, but remember it can sometimes take a few weeks for a referral to come through, maybe go see the doctor now and if you need a physio appointment later you won't have to wait ages.

  4. Alison: for sure I'll go to the doc if it persists, but for now I'm working on strengthening glutes in general and Vastus Medialis Oblique. If that isn't showing improvements...

    wonky_monkey: I hear you. Annoyingly I do have to go through the hoops of GP referral and my local surgery make it not so easy to get appointments which kinda puts you off unless something is hanging off. If self-treat isn't showing improvements in a week or two then I'll be good and get my butt to the doc. I really don't want to be out for the whole season through letting it drag on and get worse!

    BabyWilt: thankfully I'm covered on work's health insurance so referrals are quick when they happen. But yes, I'll not leave it too long before biting the bullet and seeing the GP if there's no signs of improvement soon.