Last week I was talking to my friend, Marathon Brian, and I was describing to him this weird pain I feel in the back of my left knee when I’m finished with a run. It’s not my knee cap itself, or any of the muscles or joints attached to it, it’s behind the knee — as if I had over-extended my knee — an extreme tightness when I’m done running. It’s something I used to feel all the time when I started out running. But then it went away. Being the novice that I am, I summed it up to this — “I was straining something, but it got stronger!” I still to this day don’t know if I’m right or not, but this pattern, this cycle does still repeat itself. Last week I was hitting my stride in the 6th and final week of Bridge to 10K. This means I was pushing to run 60 minutes nonstop, with the normal 5 min warm up and 5 min cool down at the beginning and end. The first time I did a 60 min run, I felt like I was going to throw up in the last 1-2 minutes. Once I stopped running and moved to my cool down, I felt the pain, the tightness. Limping through my 5 minute cool down, I made it home, ate my post-run banana, and rested for a few minutes. The good news is that this pain is gone by middle of the day. So, I still sum it up to my muscles growing, and that I did in fact push just a little too far. Not knowing what else to do…I decided to take a few days off. I didn’t run my normal Thursday run, instead I held off running again until Sunday.
Marathon Brian’s advice to me was to hydrate with something that contains electrolytes and potassium. He suggested Coconut Water or Gatorade. I don’t like the overwhelming sweetness of Gatorade, so I decided to try coconut water, as I had never had it before. Gotta be open to new things!! So I pick up some coconut water on Saturday, and put it to the test during my Sunday run. At the store I was looking for two brands which Brian mentioned: Vitacoco or C20. I found the Vitacoco, so that was the ticket. A few months ago I purchased a water belt online, preparing for rehydrating myself for when I was running longer runs in my training for the 1/2 marathon.
On Sunday, I got up early, and like normal had my two ounces of turkey protein, then filled my water bottle with 16 ounces of Vitacoco and headed out for another 60 minute run on Sunday. Right off the bat, I knew the rest was just the right choice. My left knee felt great. Strong, and not a pain in sight. The water bottle around my waist was a weird feeling at first. Eh, just something to get used to , is all. I had an awesome, strong run, drinking the Vitacoco in small sips the whole way. I remembered the article I had read about Winter Sports nutrition and the points it made about being dehydrated due to the lack of thirst reflex in the cold weather. Right away, I knew that I had been running thirsty in my past runs. The Vitacoco was really helping, and I was pleased with my run. At the finish, my legs were super tired, but no pain.
So, the learning always continues. And sometimes the best thing you can do for your running is to rest. I’m grateful to Marathon Brian for his advice about hydration and potassium, and you can BET I will be chatting with him again, and again, and again….
Happy Running. and Ciao for now……Diane