Rehab to Ultra- Part 1
This is Part 1 of that journey from May 2022 - August 2022
My last long run happened on 13th May in Oxford whilst Alice and I were supported to recce (to become familiar with the area) part of the Race to the Stones route which I was planning to run in July 2022. A beautiful run, the weather was glorious. Being out on the trails is what I love the most. However, the pain in my left knee was too much. I pushed through as much as I could but we called it quits after around 24km. I am surprised I even lasted that long! I probably shouldn't have run that far... hindsight is a wonderful thing 😉
When I got home, I knew I had to get a GP appointment and what I know I needed the most was an MRI to find out exactly what was going on.
Let me take it back a bit. So the initial pain was cause by a fall I had on January 16th 2022 whilst on a social group run in Ruislip Woods with our lovely Black Trail Runners, led by Sonny.
I then ran Manchester Marathon in April not feeling 100% but not in any pain as such. Don't get me wrong, I thought with R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) this would help with my recovery by relieving the pain and any swelling and it would all be better soon. It was actually quite the opposite.
Here goes the start of my recovery. First thing on my mind was that I definitely was not going to be running 100km in July so I contacted Threshold Sports and asked to defer to 2023. This was the right thing to do. Only thing that annoyed me (more than the injury itself) was that I had to pay £30 late deferral fee after already spending £164.50. £4.50 was administration fee 🙄. I'm saying annoyed but that's putting it mildly. Guess I had no choice but looking at that, you might as well say I paid £200.
I receive my MRI report back on 19th May which was delivered initially by a phone call from my GP. I mean getting a call from your GP is not usually good news, right? Well it wasn't good news. My GP read out the findings in the report and ended the call by saying 'let me just be clear, do not run unless a physio gives you the go ahead '! That was quite scary and felt 'final'.
With that, I made an appointment with Tyler at The Body Therapist in Stratford, East London.
I emailed him the report so he could have a read before hand. Disappointed was an understatement. I met with Tyler and after an examination was given the following:
For 0-5 days:
➡️ Anti-inflammatories prescribed by pharmacist
➡️ Use ibuprofen 10% gel as suggested on the packaging in between oral medication
➡️ Ice after activity
➡️ Contrast therapy of hot and cold on "non-active days"
➡️ Tubular bandage to wear on active day, but not when exercising and do not wear to sleep.
➡️ Start exercises from home (sent via an app)
For 5-10 days:
➡️ Continue with ibuprofen gel
➡️ Continue with tubular bandage
➡️ Continue with ice after activity
➡️ Continue with contrast therapy
➡️ Try run a 3km, maybe a 5k.
➡️ Exercise at home, in the gym x2 week
➡️ Cross-training at the gym using the bike or stairmaster
I purchased Ibuleve 10% gel which provides max strength pain relief from Amazon.
I purchased Flarin which is a lipid formulation and provide relief from joint pain and inflammation. It was easy on the stomach. I don't like taking pain killers at all let alone for a few days so it was important for me to find something that 'hopefully' was easy on the stomach.
In terms of the 3km run that Tyler suggested above, that was a non starter. I ran for about a minute and had to stop. The pain was there almost immediately. Disappointed but I knew that this was not going to be a quick fix as hopeful as my physio was.
Consequently returned for several physio appointments whilst following the rehab programme and using the gym to cross train.
The knee rehabilitation exercises included:
Gym Bodyweight Programme
- Straight leg raise
- Walking lunges (abandoned due to knee pain)
- Step-up - heel to floor
- The Diver
- The Glider
- The Extender
- Cross-over step-up
- Glute Bridge single leg
- Double/single leg glute bridge
- Single leg calf raises
- Single leg calf raise with knee bent
- Double leg calf raises
- Single leg calf raises
- Double leg press calf raises
- Single leg press calf raises
- Twist slam ball 3-9kg
- Dead bug
- Hamstring curl machine
- Kettle bell swings
- Dead lift
- Hip thruster - barbell on hips
- Seated knee extension machine single leg
- Bulgarian split squat
- Single leg press
- Double leg, leg press
I joined the gym for the first time in about 10 years. Years back I was guilty of joining and attending for a few weeks and then continuing to pay my membership and not attending. I joined my local Pure Gym which was less than 10 minutes walk from home and opened 24 hours a day which was perfect meaning I could go early in the morning before work. The benefit of flexible working!
Taking the anti- inflammatory (Flarin) was amazing as the pain totally disappeared. I used to feel every single step when walking up stairs or even bending down to sit. All gone! Felt magical, but after stopping this after a few days, the pain returned. I knew I couldn't keep on taking pain killers, nor would I want to so I really needed to work with my physio for recovery.
Due to where the swelling and pain was located (under my knee to the right), my physio believed I also had Pes Anserinus Bursitis. My diagnosis from the MRI is chrondomalacia. To me and you it is also known as runners knee which is when there is a damaged cartilage behind the patella (knee cap). There isn't just one cause and can also be wear and tear.
I continued these exercises at home and the gym including some cross training on the bike. I was plesantly surprised how well I got on with the exercises and using the gym. As I got stronger through the rehab, I was given permission to start couch to 5k at the end of July. This had to be the best way as I am so much better when I follow a structured plan. I followed this for 3 weeks and then purchased a gymboss which you can use to set interval times for an activity.
In June, I volunteered at the Lea Valley 50km that I was suppose to be running. This would have been my first ultra and part of the training run for Race to the Stones. Also love cheering on others, so it was a beautiful experience with the Camino Ultra family. A great day seeing Alice and all the other finishers smashing out an ultra! So inspirational 🙌🏿
At the end of June, I had a feeling that I needed more support from my Physio and things just didn't feel quite right so I did some research and came across Myoset. I booked an initial appointment, took along my MRI scan and had a detailed appointment and explained what has been happening over the last few months. Instantly from the assessment it just felt right and a rehab package was put together. Acupuncture was included in the follow up sessions too. This is not my first time having acupuncture but that doesn't make it easier as I don't like needles. I absolutely know the benefits of having it so it just made sense.
I preservered with this new rehabilitation programme and started attending spinning classes at my gym. Absolutely loved this! Omg! It was basically a night club on a bike. The instructor was awesome and I got my friend Gosia to attend weekly with me.
When we weren't at spinning class, I was coaching Gosia as she was training for London Marathon. This was a great distraction and I loved it. Always brings me joy helping others.
Gosia at one of our coaching sessions in Victoria Park
Throughout July and August, I did 2 runs a week and continued with my rehab exercises at home and in the gym. I used the gymboss and set the intervals for 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking.
I had booked to run The Big Half on 4th September 2022 and was contemplating if I should run it or not. I spoke to my physio and he suggested that I did interval run/walk/run and see how that goes. So from this, I formally started to use 3/1 in my training runs. I made sure to only do shorts runs as I know I can run a half marathon before so this was not a concern. My main focus was not making this injury worse.
With training going well I decided that I would run the race using 3/1 run/walk method also known as jeffing. My friend Ray wanted to join me and this was going to be a new experience for us both.
Thank you for taking the time to read Part 1 of my journey to my first ultra.
Always happy to receive any feedback or if you have any questions, do please message me. My inbox is always open.
See you soon for Part 2 😊