Posted by: Kennedy | April 11, 2010

A plea to my knees

I may love running. But my knees, on the other hand, don’t always appreciate it like I do. I’ve had to ask my knees – first the left one, now the right – to give running a chance. “You just need time to get used to running,” I tell them. “You might not get along right now, but at least try to play nice… for me?” I beg.

My left knee was the first one to complain. It behaved itself while I was training for the 10K. But as soon as the race was over, it had clearly had enough. A couple of runs had to be cut short due to excruciating pain. A self-imposed running hiatus until the new year turned into a two-month long, no-running-allowed direction from my osteopath.

This was tough. Maybe not SO tough because it was winter. But I had to forego my plans to start training for my first half-marathon in early February. Plus, the pain wasn’t just felt when I ran. I limped around town for a while there, trying whenever possible to avoid stairs and hills. It was not pretty.

Finally, after a number of sessions with my osteopath and weeks of ‘resting’ aka feeling like a big lazy blob, my knee appeared to have gotten over its problem with my dear friend, running. I had the okay to start going on slow, short runs.

Here’s what it felt like:

(Entry from my personal running diary, February 27, 2010)

For most others out there braving the elements, today probably wasn’t their best run. It’s windy, wet and just below freezing…in my opinion, the toughest weather to run in. Even without a lot of layers, I always end up feeling too hot. But the biggest issue was the slush. Piles upon piles of slippery brown mush smothering every outdoor surface. Most of the time I was so focused on avoiding mini-lakes at every corner and not falling in front of a row of cars that I barely noticed how much my knee WAS NOT hurting (more on that later).

So I heeded my osteopath’s advice and mapped out a route that was exactly 3 km – no more, no less. This meant I only took one walk-break during the run, so it was very short. But not too short for me to work up a good sweat and feel awesome – despite the puddles forming in my shoes.

I appreciated the guy shoveling slush off the sidewalk, allowing me the pleasure of a few solid strides where I could actually look up and enjoy my surroundings (gotta love that impatient traffic on Avenue Rd… and those enormous condos, just lovely). Heading into Spadina Village, I smelled the delicious Saturday morning scent of warm pastries calling my name from the nearby bakery. I soldiered on like the dedicated beacon of willpower I am. Totally unrelated sidenote: I left my wallet at home.

It was about this point I took my walk break, and suddenly realized – my knee felt like, well, nothing. Just a normally functioning body part, flying under my radar as it always used to. Could it be? An absolutely pain-free run? After two long, unbearable months of aches, inactivity and restlessness?

As it turns out, oh yes, it be! I finished the second half of my run without even a wince. Lots of huffing and puffing near the end (I hate that I lost all that endurance), but no limping. I didn’t even think about the miserable weather or the fact that my feet were getting wrinkly. And for that reason, today’s little 3k was my best run yet this year. Can’t wait to go for another quick one tomorrow!

(The end)

And it only got better from there… until a few weekends ago, when suddenly, out of the blue, my right knee decides it no longer likes running. Just as the left one was finally coming around. Why can’t we all just get along?!

Here’s my reality: I can’t part ways with either of my knees. We’re kind of all stuck with each other for life. But things have been going so well with running… I really think we’re meant to be. Running could be my life partner! How can I just throw that away on a whim when two random body parts start acting out? Maybe they’re tired of dealing with the stress of my relationship with running – I don’t feel any of it until one of my knees decides to remind me by throwing a big tantrum.

Well knees… I’ve got news for you. Running isn’t going anywhere. I realize things may have to change slightly – relationships are about compromise, after all – but we are just going to have to learn to work together.

So, knees, here it is. I promise to ice you, stretch your neighbour, the IT band, on the foam roller, and stretch and strengthen your coworkers – calves, quads, glutes, shins and hip flexors – in hopes this will ease your pain.

In return, I expect you to build up your strength, stop whining and do what you’re supposed to do – help me run.

I think, with a little time and some tender loving care, you and running will fall in love. And if you try hard enough, it could even happen before the Sporting Life 10K in three weeks. Just saying.



  1. Hey Kennedy, Chelle said you are thinking of running the Sporting Life 10k. I’ve already signed up for the 1-1:15 time slot. Not entirely sure if that’s where I’ll end up but I’m confident it will be. Hope your knees hold out for it, it’ll be a blast if we meet up. I’ve basically been running by myself since I started so this will be quite the experience I’m sure. Anyways, keep it up. I’m sure the knees will come around eventually 😛

  2. Hey Pat! Yes, I signed up for Sporting Life back in February… and now it’s almost here, I’m really excited! A few friends and I joined the 49-55 group (a tad ambitious!) but I’ll watch for you in the crowd for sure. Good luck!!

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