While on my trip in Kansas, I spent a lot of time with my coworkers chit chatting over meals and in between meetings. It came up that I went for a run through the area in the mornings, and out came the camaraderie from past-runners who have since hung up their kicks.
One of the women on my team, let’s call her Sharon, said at breakfast “You must’ve run again, you have that glow on your face; gotta love it.” I did run, and I did love it. However, from there the conversation took a different turn over the hour. Another coworker, let’s call him Joseph, spoke up saying “Oh I used to run and play hockey day in and day out… you know, you’re going to ruin your knees that way.”
What? Ruin my knees? This is a topic I’ve been choosing not to face for a few years now. Two years ago I was diagnosed with “runner’s knee“, which is a common pain runners get when piling on too much mileage too soon. It hits you in the middle of a glorious run and forces you to utter obsceneties and feel inferior and old for a week following.
After learning about how to manage that better (by approaching each running season with a little more caution and planning–what a bummer) I’ve been able to avoid pain for the last few seasons. Beyond the runner’s knee though, my knees now crack when I bend down to grab things, or when I stretch before a run.
I relayed this new development to Joseph, “Your knees are already cracking?” he said, “Oh, that’s bad.” Shit. Is it? Does that really mean something’s going wrong? “At this point, I need two new knees,” he said. “Sometimes it hurts just to touch them, and I can’t kneel down with my son, I have to lay on my side.” Sharon sympathized with him, and said very cheerfully, “Oh, don’t scare her.” Then, turning to me, “You still have another good ten years before that happens to you, enjoy them.”
Another ten years until my knees are ruined? Enjoy them?
What will I do if I can’t run? I’m not a great swimmer, and I don’t think I’m interested in becoming one. Yoga is cool, but it doesn’t give me that kick-ass heart racing workout I crave. Should I banish myself to ellipticals? cough. Speed walking? bullshit.
Perhaps, strength training. Perhaps, less focus on miles and more on my overall physical fitness. Maybe more circuits and sprints, and less pounding the pavement for forty-five minutes at a time.
After all, if I don’t make an effort to save my knees now, I won’t be able to do any of those things “in ten years”. And that’s scary, isn’t it?