The Danger in Increasing Mileage + Runner’s Knee

Well, isn’t this awkward.

In Monday’s post I was going on and on about how wonderful running is for me lately and how I ran more than peak half marathon mileage and just felt AMAZING!

Annnd, now I am sitting here on Friday, not having run since Tuesday because I get severe pain above my kneecap any time I put pressure on my right leg.

I’m upset about this little setback partly because running was going SO well (hello random 5k PR on a treadmill), but mostly I am annoyed with myself for being so delusional. I have a history of chronic knee injuries and jumping from a few 5 mile runs per week to 5 runs including a long and two tempos. I am NOT invincible, it appears.

invincibleIf only…(sidenote: HOW PERFECT is this for this Canadian?!)

And even if this jump (which truly was not ENTIRELY ridiculous -> 17 miles to 24 miles) there is nothing about my lifestyle right now that is even remotely conducive to recovery! I’m not sleeping, stressed out 24/7, sick, and pumping my body full of chemicals/nitrates/aspartame (WAS -> day 2 100% clean so far!). The point is, that kind of jump in training had a chance of being successful if I was doing all the right extra things. But I wasn’t, and don’t see myself being able to in the near future, so my training needs to increase VERY very gradually.

Lesson learned.

I’ve basically self-diagnosed myself with Patellofemoral Syndrome / “Runners Knee”, a minor injury that (obviously) plagues many runners. Thanks to it being so common amongst our kind, Runner’s World has an AWESOME page on it full of diagnostic tests, treatments, recovery plans and prevention tips (the most important!).

Here is my experience with the situation:

REMEMBER: I am a university student studying Media -> although I hope to have my personal training certification soon, I do NOT at this moment and therefore please take all advice with a grain of salt / your own common knowledge about your body. 🙂 


Patellofemoral Syndrome: What is it: The cartilage underneath the patella (kneecap) becomes more and more aggravated by the femur due to misalignment / tight muscles.

What causes it:

  • Overtraining
  • Sudden training increase
  • Weak quad muscles
  • Foot issues (over/underpronating, flat arches, improper shoes, etc.)
  • Direct knee trauma: less common for runners –> if you got whacked in the kneecap with a hammer

What it feels like:

  • Kneecap pain –> can sometimes be hard to pinpoint an exact position; a general feeling of achiness
  • If you can pinpoint it, it is usually behind the kneecap and/or where the femur (thigh bone) and kneecap meet
  • Pain when bending the knee
  • Swelling

What to do about it:

  • REST! I understand…it’s the last thing you want to do when training is going well! But would you rather take a week off now, or a month off right before your big race? Sometimes it is simply a mind over matter situation.
  • Cross-train (if it doesn’t aggravate the issue): Going hard on the elliptical is great to maintain your endurance while recovering, IF IT ALLOWS YOU TO RECOVER. Otherwise you may as well be running and worsening the issue.
  • Foam roll: this will loosen the muscles around your kneecap and help it to not get so aggravated by the femur bone.
  • Icing can also help decrease inflammation
  • And then…don’t make the same mistake twice! Even if you are feeling fantastic, moderate your training and try to follow the 10% rule of mileage increase/week.

As for me, I feel like my knee pain is improving. I did a couple of cross-training sessions this week as well as DESTROYED my arms/shoulders yesterday -> taking notes today will be a joy. I don’t have access to ice, but have been foam rolling like  a champ and will NOT run until I have absolutely zero pain. It’s quite fun doing random squat tests in public and seeing people’s reactions!

Have you ever had runner’s knee?

Do you cross train while injured or completely rest? 


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