It’s the final day of my thirties; a day to reflect on a decade that had its fair share of good times, mingled with a few bad and ugly times. But that is life, isn’t it? Life is hard sometimes. It hurts like a sonofabitch but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That has definitely been my motto these past ten years.
Yesterday my husband surprised me with a date at high tea with my daughter. It was absolutely lovely. She got all dressed up in a tartan dress and clutched her matching purse so tight her hands almost turned white.
After we were seated she presented me with a birthday card.
And then she have me a little white box that had this inside:
I joked with my husband that my Pandora bracelet needed a new charm to commemorate my birthday. He obviously took the hint.
It was an absolutely lovely afternoon, one I won’t soon forget. My daughter felt so special and so grown up. She asked that we do this every year. I can’t think of a better tradition to start.
This is the final week of my thirties.
I’m getting old.
Or am I?
I remember turning 30 and thinking that was a big deal. I was a newly-minted doctor, in the first year of my residency and just a little bit terrified. Terrified of suddenly being an adult. Working full-time, saving money for a house, trying to pay down my debt. I moved three more times before settling in my home. I paid some debt off while incurring a bit more. Yet, the decade that followed surpassed all of my wildest expectations. I started my career, I married the love of my life, I bought a house, had three beautiful children, met some wonderful people who became my closest friends.
So, it’s a bit strange to say goodbye to that decade. When I look back on who I was at 30, while I do recognize that young woman, I have grown and experienced so much. I am starting this new decade with much more confidence than I’ve ever had and I truly believe the best is yet to come.
The birthday celebrations have already begun. Last weekend, husband and I had a wonderful night out with one of his closest friends. We experienced a night on the town unlike any we’ve had in quite some time. It started off with a vodka bar and ended with a ping-pong game at a local club. Ping pong! In between there was a fabulous dinner, lively conversation and a couple of sore feet.
You see, I rarely wear heels. My poor little feet were aching by the end of the night and I had to take off my shoes. In the middle of downtown, I took off my shoes and walked the streets. It was exhilarating!
I think I’m going to like 40.
Last week, I ran 5 days out of 7.
You can probably guess that my knee has been feeling a lot better. Except for the little “click” I keep hearing on the opposite knee every time I walk down stairs. But it doesn’t hurt, so I’m going to ignore it. In fact I think it might be gone today.
Now that I have run my goal of 10 km (okay, so only once, but still, I did it!), I feel like I need to set another goal. While I fully intend on running that 10 km again, I want to improve my endurance. Before all the injuries set in, I was running 5 km at a steady pace, with no walking. I know that running:walking is a common practice for even the long distance runners, but there is still a small part of me that thinks that if I call myself a runner, I should be able to run a distance, you know? Must be that type-A personality coming through.
Last week, I drove to the waterfront and had a fabulous run on the boardwalk. I don’t know if it was the scenery that helped, but I found some energy the last kilometer and had my fastest kilometer in quite some time! I was so excited. I even had my first negative split!
So, the last couple of runs, I have changed things up a bit (yet again!). I ran the first kilometer straight, it was about 7.5 minutes. Then I walked for a minute. Then I ran the next kilometer straight, then walked for a minute. Repeat x 4 km. I have no idea if this is even a thing, but there you have it. After two runs like that, my legs were feeling the strain.
Being the good girl that I am, I took the last 2 days off. My legs needed it. I was really tempted to run last night, but I didn’t. Partly because I was so damn tired, but mostly because I was too busy eating these little guys.
So, of course after eating far too many of these cookies, I really felt like I needed a run, but instead I sat my butt down on the couch and cross stitched for the rest of the evening. I had every intention of waking up this morning and going for a run. I don’t work on Mondays and thought it would be good to get the run out of the way and before it got too hot. Yeah, well, it didn’t happen.
I blame the cookies.
It’s been really hard not running. I tested the knee a few days ago. I’ve been doing quad sets and wall sits at work, between patients, and after a few days the pain in my knee virtually disappeared. So, of course I went for a run.
I was very cautious and took it very slow and only did 2km. The knee held up rather nicely. There was only the subtlest of aches and no searing pain afterwards. I iced it that night and continued to do the quad strengthening.
I’m doing about a hundred squats a day and have done so for the past 5 days. My legs are starting to notice. I had planned on going for an early morning run this morning but just couldn’t make it out before the heat set in.
My running friends have all told me, in not so many words, that I am playing with fire. I should not be testing the knee. That if indeed I do have the dreaded “runners knee” that I need to lay off the running and cross train.
If you’ve been following my blog you know that patience when it comes to running and injuries is definitely not one of my virtues. Running is important to me for so many reasons. The thought of not being able to run is unbearable really. Sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s true. I love the way it makes me feel and it helps keep me in great shape.
So tonight, after the kids were in bed I went out for a run. I’ve had a headache all day and just needed to get out. I had no idea what to expect and in fact had no expectations whatsoever. I quickly realized it was going to be a good run. I had ZERO pain in the knee the entire run. I was so thrilled but told myself to keep it short. My plan by 2 km in was to wrap up around 4 km. I decided to head to the local trail for a bit and saw this little guy along the way.
Tonight’s run was very, very encouraging.
A few months ago, I saw a young woman in my office complaining of knee pain. She had just started running and after several 30-45 min straight runs developed anterior knee pain. Even before I examined her knee I knew she had developed patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
She had been a competitive swimmer in high school and hadn’t done any running before this. She just decided one day she was going to start running. I admired her.
Her knee examine was pretty straight forward. I was able to elicit pain along the inferomedial aspect of her patella; she had a very minor joint effusion, but otherwise the rest of her exam was normal.
I spent the rest of the visit counseling her on what PFPS is and how it happens. I spoke about imbalance in the muscles around the knee and showed her specific quadriceps strengthening exercises. I suggested she take a regular dose of an anti-inflammatory medication for at least a week if she was in pain. I advised her to get a proper gait assessment done for her running shoes and told her she had to stop running for a few weeks at minimum. She obviously didn’t like that last part but I reassured her that she would get back to her running if she listened to her body and took the proper steps to heal and strengthen her legs, particularly the quadricep muscles.
She returned to see me about six weeks later for a different reason. I asked how the running was going. She told me she took my advice and her knee feels great.
Remember that saying, “doctors make the worst patients”? It really is true. Ten days ago, at the first sign of knee pain, though I did “rest” I didn’t take any medication and I didn’t do the exercises. Granted I was on vacation with my family so having any time to myself to exercise was difficult. There were a few mornings I found myself alone on the deck so I did squats and yoga but it clearly wasn’t enough.
But, since the run two days ago, I have been faithfully doing my quad strengthening reps and taking acetaminophen for the pain. Normally I would be taking Ibuprofen but it’s been upsetting my stomach of late. I’d forgotten what a good painkiller acetaminophen can be; there have been moments when I think I could run again, my knee feels almost back to normal. Gone is that annoying ache I experienced walking down the stairs! But I know that is the Acetaminophen working. Not to worry, I told myself no running for another week, at minimum.
These particular quad sets, I find, are very helpful, but there are many more that are equally important. Not only should I be strengthening the quadricep muscles, I also need to remember that the gluteus muscles and the hamstrings are key to a healthy knee as well. I found this PDF to be particularly helpful. And just to prove that I am practising what I preach this time, here is a short video of me doing a quad set. (And yes, that’s Katy Perry in the background and at the very end, my son demanding attention.)
I forget how fast 7 days can go by. We are back from our week at a cottage rental. The kids had a fantastic time and though the weather could have been a bit better, we all got to enjoy the lake and I even got a tan!
The kids were up at the crack of dawn and were ready to go. Thank goodness this cottage has a phenomenal basement full of toys. It certainly kept the older kids occupied for an hour or two while husband and I struggled to get another hour of sleep. The baby was so incredibly easy. The fresh air made for great naps and he loved crawling in the grass and exploring the ground.
I was hoping that the week off with no running would help with my knee. Sadly, it hasn’t done much. I may not have been running but I certainly was walking up and down stairs a lot and up and down a slopey hill to get to the lake. “Rest” just wasn’t in the cards for me.
A few hours after we got back to the city I suited up for a run to test the knee and quickly realized that I’d made a mistake. I struggled through 3km.
So, having gone from this:
And too much of this:
I am now sitting with an ice pack on my knee and swallowing my pride. I guess my body wasn’t as ready as I thought it was for 10km.
Looks like I’ll be seeing the physiotherapist this week.