Roger is a runner from south Wales. Active all his life he needed surgery after a bad case of runner knee. This article tells his story in the hope that you can learn from his experience.
What’s Your Athletic And Injury Background?
I was very active as a child, always out of the house riding bikes and climbing trees. At school I played Ruby from the age of 5 to about 18. Despite being quite short I was made captain of the Ruby team, I loved it. I used to hit the gym on a regular basis as well. All in an effort to become a better Rugby player. Long distance running wasn’t something that interested me at all.
Two things happened at around age 18. I noticed I started getting pain in my left knee after a game or a hard training session. I was young and didn’t think much of it initially. It was around this time I also discovered beer..
I cant remember the details or the time frame but I ended up having surgery on my left knee to have some cartilage removed. With this setback and the discovery of beer my Ruby dwindled. After School I settled into university and then work without sport and my knee was fine.
What Happened When You Hit Middle Age?
Like many people I hit my 40s and noticed my waistline started to expand. I like pies and welsh cakes too much! So I started to attend my local parkrun. Fast forward to January 2018 and Id signed up for the Berlin marathon that year. All in an effort to get and stay in shape.
When Did You Notice Pain In Your Knees Again?
I really enjoyed parkrun and after a few weeks Id started to increase the number of runs during the week as well. My right knee didn’t like this and I noticed a tell tail twinge after the distances started to increase.
What Was The First Thing You Did To Try To Fix Your Right Knee Pain?
Self-diagnosis for about three months. I think I read every blog post and watch every YouTube video about runners with bad knees. Nothing much helped. the only thing that stopped the pain was resting it.
The next logical step was to book an appointment with a sports physio. After a 15 minute consultation he referred me to a specialist. The specialist diagnosed a torn meniscus, which was explained to me as a cartilage tear.
What Did The Doctor Recommend?
The diagnosis didn’t come as a huge surprise as this was exactly the same problem Id had with my left knee as a teenager. I was disappointed but pleased to get to the bottom of the problem.
I needed and had a surgery called a Arthroscopy, cartilage shaving.
Arthroscopy is a procedure that utilizes an arthroscope (a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and camera lens at the end) to examine or diagnose conditions of the knee. One example is to shave cartilage for better lubrication.
I was back on my feet within days and returned to running after a few weeks. However I had lost condition and I could still feel pain in my knee when I ran.
I contacted the surgeon who advised that this was perfectly normal and I should continue to exercise and use it. Not to push too far or too fast for a while. But post operation pain was to be expected.
Do You Still Feel Pain In Your Knee When You Run?
It took months, I can’t remember how many, but months for the pain to subside. Even four years later I still get some discomfort if I try to increase the distances I run too quickly.
But I’m happy because I went through a period where I thought I would never be able to run with any consistency again.
How Long From The Initial Knee Pain To Post Operation Pain Free Running?
18 months in total after the initial pain and seven months after the Arthroscopy operation.
What Would You Have Done Differently If You Knew Then What You Know Now?
I would have gone to see the physio straight away. Waiting three months was a mistake!
Do You Do Anything Differently Now As A Result Of The Problems You’ve Had With Your Knees?
My rugby days are behind me. I used to play a bit of football (soccer), I don’t do that now. The pressures involved with stopping and twisting are not something I want to subject either of my knees to.
I try to be sensible with my running. When I’m preparing for a race the 10% rule of volume increase is more like the 5% to 7% rule for me. I’m much more cautious than I used to be.
The biggest change is that I try to enjoy every run. Since I had thought my running days were behind me I really do appreciate every time I get out the door.
Have You Changed Your Running Shoes As A Result Of The Problems You’ve Had?
I don’t think the shoes I was wearing contributed to my knee problems. However I did change the type of shoe I wear. I like a stability running show now. I like the support they give me, they give me confidence. And they definitely help when I’m increasing my running volume.
What are your running plans for the future?
I’ve signed up for the Manchester marathon in 2022 so I’m looking forward to that! Training takes longer as I increase milage more slowly than most people I know. But that’s something I’m used to now.
The important thing is that I’m still running!