A while back, shortly after running that 5k, I noticed that my knee was sore. It felt like I had a bruise on my kneecap, the pain was pretty isolated and only sharp if I pushed on that spot. But it would ache a bit after running. So, I ran less, but apparently that wasn't quite enough, because after some training with Ali at Mt. Tom, my knee started to hurt more, whenever it was bent. I can recognize an overuse injury when I see one, so I stopped running. But I'm also wicked competitive, fairly driven, and extremely obsessive about doing the training I've planned for myself, so I basically upped my bike miles from about 10% of my overall training load to >55% of my training load. Yeah, yeah, I know I should have rested, but biking didn't hurt, so I figured I was fine.
I was fine, too, until I did a 60mi ride, followed by Saturday at the Pawtuckaway Camping Weekend, and then a 'cross race, at which point, my knee hurt going through the pedaling motion as well as when running. Dammit. Luckily, I'd already scheduled a doctor's appointment when this stupid joint first started hurting for real, so that was on Tuesday. I already knew he'd say to rest. I just wanted to know what was wrong.
He poked and prodded for a bit, ruled out patellofemoral pain, and declared I had a partial tear of the VMO. He didn't come right out and say I had to stop all activities, just that I shouldn't do anything that hurt at all. Gave me some PT exercises to do, instructed me to ice twice a day, and sent me on my way.
I realize that the sorts of injuries I see are generally of the non-acute, non-serious type, but for an athlete who relies on doing a repetitive motion over and over and over in order to increase fitness and work on technique, overuse injuries are what happen, and they're damn frustrating, more so when there is not a definite cause to the injury. I can rollerski, since that doesn't hurt, but I've got myself on a very conservative buildup of pole-use, due to the elbow tendonitis, so I haven't rollerskied for more than an hour yet this fall. I guess I'm looking at losing some fitness until I can pedal without any hint of weirdness in that knee, and then hopefully I can bring running back in carefully (and soon enough for the US champs in orienteering... eek!). I like to think I'm being way more mature about this injury than I have been in the past, but if I'd taken a friend's advice and taken a week off training completely after it first started hurting, well, hindsight is always 20/20, huh?
The bright side is that if I can run by mid October, I'll be plenty rested for the champs! I was doing so well with staying un-broken this summer, too. grumble.