Thus far in my marathon training, I have suffered--and recovered--from the following conditions:
1. Shin splints
2. Oozing, bloody blisters
3. IBS attacks brought on after long distance runs
4. Calf muscle strain
Until a few days ago, I was plagued by #4, so I'd made an appointment with my orthopedist. But right after I made that appointment, I began using Zensah compression socks during my runs, and the two month-old calf injury finally and quite suddenly bid me adieu.
I was going to call to cancel the appointment, but just in case my lack of calf pain was a momentary reprieve, I thought I'd wait until the day it was scheduled just to make sure my calf still felt fine after my morning run.
My calf indeed felt fine.
But my knees (both of them) were tingling.
Not hurting, but tingling.
I live in fear of injured knees. I'm a "toe runner" so the injuries I'm most prone to are calf problems; "heel runners" are more likely to have knee, achilles and hip problems, my ortho says. And for this I consider myself lucky: a calf injury is a lot easier to train around than a knee problem.
For someone training for a long-distance event like a marathon or half marathon, in fact, a knee injury can be the kiss of death.
So I kept the appointment so I could get the tingling checked out. My doctor examined my calf (and affirmed that it had healed) as well as my knee...which he promptly diagnosed with the beginnings of "chondromalacia patella," or "runner's knee," which is an irritation of the undersurface of the kneecaps.
Oh no. Not the knees!
The doctor then told me that unlike my previous injuries, this one I was developing was actually quite serious. If it got more painful, I would have to stop running altogether, or else I could end up needing surgery that might sideline me from running indefinitely.
I sat there with my teeth chattering. "Is there anything I can do to make it better?"
"So you say you've only had this tingling sensation since you began wearing compression hose?" he asked.
"Just stop wearing your compression hose. Now that your calf is healed, there really isn't any reason to wear them anymore."
Phew. Not wearing garish purple hose while running v. wearing them and possibly destroying my kneecaps...hmmmm, not a tough decision.
I had told the doctor--proudly, actually--that the compression hose had changed the way I ran, so that I was using my upper legs more and putting less pressure on my toes. I thought this was a good thing; I'd been reading a book on why it was better to run with your head forward, neck elongated and less pressure on your lower legs.
But according to my orthopedist, converting from being a toe runner to a heel runner was what probably caused my kneecap irritation in the first place and that I should go back to how I was running before I wore the socks, because that clearly had worked for me.
Right now I'm wearing the Zensahs as a recovery tool, in between runs. But tomorrow when I do my own little turkey trot around my neighborhood (I'm not signed up for any of the local 5ks), I'll be doing it naked-legged.