Analyzing my stress fracture: How did I get injured?

I had an IT band injury a few years ago but really only had to take about one month off from running entirely.

Now sidelined with a stress fracture, it’s unknown as to how long I’ll be out from running.

When I found out about two weeks ago that my “IT band injury” was actually a stress fracture on the side of my knee, I was shocked.

When I hear stress fracture, I think of someone who is new to running and started training too much too soon.

I had been training for my eighth full marathon. I was coming off training and successfully running my first ultra marathon in March to gliding right into training for the Anchorage Marathon in June. Spring training was going exceptionally well! I was hitting my pace for short workouts. None of my long runs had been even remotely horrible.

My last good long run was my 19 miler on May 21. Joanna and I did the run at 8:54 pace. We were feeling great! My goal marathon — finally hitting that sub 4 hour time! — was four weeks away. There was no question in my mind that I would achieve my goal. I had one last long run the next week and then it would be taper time.

The next day I had an ultimate Frisbee game — I told my team this would be my last game before my marathon — which turned into the first day I experienced pain on the side of my left knee. Immediately after I walked off the turf field, I knew it was my IT band. It was the same pain I had experienced a few years back on my right knee/IT band.

Maybe this is where I went wrong. I shouldn’t have been playing ultimate while seriously marathon training! The side-to-side quick movement must have done me in!

I iced and foam rolled and did hip and glute strengthening exercises but the pain never went away so after a few days I went back to the same physical therapist I did the first time for my IT band injury.

Maybe this is where I went wrong. I shouldn’t have self-referred myself to PT! I should have gone to a doctor first and been told by a professional of what was going on with my body.

I tapered early and significantly cut training leading up to the race.

I ran my marathon on June 18. It was very painful for the entire second half.

I continued PT. I continued my PT exercises. I was only running once a week post marathon (mainly to see if running hurt my knee, and it still did).

Then in mid-July I noticed I was getting some swelling behind the left knee. And, when I ran, the pain wasn’t on the side of my knee anymore. It was on the knee cap or just behind the knee.

My PT suggested I go see an orthopedic doc. She thought that maybe I had a cyst.

The earliest I could see the doc was the beginning of August. Fast forward to present time and I now know that I probably ran my marathon with a stress fracture.

The doctor told me that my injury is a “typical runner’s stress fracture.” I increased my mileage too much too soon.

But, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I stuck to the same training plan I have used for the last three to four marathons!

Was it the ultimate Frisbee? Was it doing my long runs at race pace? Was it not giving my body enough time to rest after my ultra?

It’s frustrating because I thought I was doing everything right. I thought I was taking care of my body. I thought I was on track to finally achieve my sub-4 hour time, a goal I have been chasing for three years.

For now though, I can’t even think about my next marathon. It’s only been a month of not running but I’m getting antsy.

Guess I’ll go hit the gym later today.

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