I lie down on the bed in the Sports Clinic and start to wonder if there’s a special word for this item of furniture which adjusts in height. It can’t be just a ‘bed’ I think. That sounds too personal. Why am I lying down in some strange place with hands over my legs. What a strange sensation. I look on as he examines the knee and shifts the knee cap around a bit. He presses down on the tendon and the pain leaps on to the table with me and along with it its counterpart, worry. I don’t mind the pain so much as fret and panic over the worry.
I over-enthusiastically promised my body over to three races just before and after New Year’s and one of them was called the May Hill Massacre. The second was the Bath half-marathon on March 7th, and while the third was the London Marathon that first one had me thinking. The run promised mud, hills and a twist at the end and I hadn’t run at more than a gentle pace since September. I decided to put more effort into my training and focus on running at an incline. From a maximum of two hours a week I increased my running to five and half hours. After that last half an hour I walked back home with a sharp pain in my right knee. I took the next day off and then the day after that and then the following week. 10 days later and I was at the University of Bristol’s Sports Clinic and being told that I had an extremely weak iliotibial band on my right leg.
The iliotibial band is a thick tendon-like portion of another muscle called the tensor fasciae latae. This band passes down the outside of the thigh and inserts just below the knee. The main problem occurs when the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band become tight. This causes the tendon to pull the knee joint out of alignment and rub against the outside of the knee, which results in inflammation and pain.
There is no damage, he says and while it isn’t an ideal time for an injury we will see how it goes. He doesn’t rule out the Bath half or the London Marathon so I leave optimistic and bubbling with enthusiasm. The happiness slowly fades but the optimism remains and I continue to do exercises to help out my leg.
There is no longer any pain but I’m still not running. I did a short 2km yesterday and am envious of all the other runners who are out and running for one, two or three hours. After hitting the pavement for 12 minutes around Hotwells there was a throbbing ache back in my knee and I had ice on it for the next hour. Not damaged though, just irritated, so I continue to hope for an exhausting run at some point soon – I hope my body agrees.