Dealing With a Knee Injury Right Before A Marathon

I’ve got 10 days until the Houston Marathon and I’m still dealing with an injury. Any injury is frustrating, but especially so when it happens so close to a race, whether a 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon or marathon. I’ve been searching online the last months for tips and freaking out about how to deal with this because this is my first injury.  About 4 weeks ago I decided that instead of stressing, I was going to put together a plan of action so that I could run my best (or at least my knee’s best) on January 30th!

I injured my knee about 6-8 weeks ago, right after I placed 3rd in the 5k Turkey Trot. I was fine after the race, but my quads were a little sore, which made me realize they were weak. Then, during my 16mile long run a week later, I landed on my leg a little weird and felt a pain in the outside part of my right knee. That was at about mile 12, so I decided it wasn’t bad enough to stop and I finished at 16.  The next few days were excruciatingly painful, especially going down stairs and after periods of sitting. So, although it was killing me to rest..I took off one week and then tried to ease back with a 6 mile “long run”. I could barely make it. After that weekend, only ran a 1-2 miles during the week and basically missed my long run for 3 weeks, which is really not good when your marathon is less than 2 months away.

After weeks of trying to figure out what was wrong, I thought that I may have torn my meniscus, so I better get it checked out. I saw a physical therapist (PT) and then also a knee doc who did x-rays. Neither acted like anything was wrong and said I probably just sprained it. That was no help at all and I still continued to have the pain whenever I bent my knee or tried to run. After another week or so of staying off of it…I decided to try some cross training. Spinning bothered it and so did the elliptical, but jumping rope didn’t. Also, I was finding that after sitting for a period (like during my 1-hr flight) and then standing…my knee would get painful and stiff and I could barely walk. But, then after I stopped or moved it around a little the pain was almost gone. After more research, I read that people with Runners Knee sometimes have this happen and they call it “movie theater leg syndrome”. I never considered Runners Knee because my knee pain was lateral (to the outside) and not really close to the patella. But, come to find out…runners knee can affect you anywhere around the patella tendon, even on the sides. This makes sense because I haven’t been strengthening my quads very much over the last 6 months and that combined with a little overuse were causing my tendons to get out of whack.

So, now that I’ve figured out what is wrong, this is what I’m doing to treat my Runner’s Knee:

-I’m really focusing on strengthening my quads. I did seated leg lifts and extensions a few weeks ago when my knee still hurt and now I’m incorporating squats, step ups and other things with a bent knee.
-I’m strengthening my glutes and outer thighs. I’ve been using either the cable machine w/ankle attachment or just a basic resistance band. For inner thighs, I’ve been doing wall-sits and squeezing a med ball in between my knees.
-I ice my knee after every workout and then later that day or next day I use heat to help get the blood circulating.
-I’ve been taking a glucocsamine/chondroitin supplement every day and take Advil or other anti-inflammatory AFTER my runs or hard workouts.
-I use KT tape to tape my knee before my long runs. The video I used for instruction is HERE.
-During my runs, I stop and stretch and pay close attention to quads and quad stretching.
-After my longer runs, I do use compression and wrap an ACE bandage around my knee while I rest.

I did fine during my 18mile run last week (I had to stop and stretch quads some), but I’m now confident I’ll be ok for the marathon. I doubt I’m going to hit my goal of under 3:45 but I’m just going to try to do my best. I’m going to do what I always do on marathons…treat the first 20miles as a training run and the last 6 as a race. So, if my knee will hold up…I’m going to kick it in gear the last 6! Stay tuned…

You may also like

45 comments

  • Amateras January 21, 2011  

    Cari –
    I find you to be so inspiring 🙂

    My son has been logging in his miles for the Miracle Match Marathon !

  • Ilia February 19, 2011  

    Hi, my name is Ilia and I’m running the LA Marathon. I injured my knee during a 15 mile run and the day after, the side of knee was in excruciating pain. I couldn’t go up or down stairs and it was difficult for me to even walk. I did no running for 2 weeks. Right now I have been running around 2 miles and ab workouts. I still feel a tiny pain in my knee and I’m not sure if I should ignore this or just skip the marathon. The most I have ran was the 15 mile run and keep in mind that the actual marathon is three weeks ahead. If you have any advice for me, please share. It would mean alot to me to hear something from a person who is experienced the same injury as me.

  • cari February 22, 2011  

    Hi Ilia! Well, it sounds like this might be your first marathon? So, because of that and the fact that you are only up to 15 miles for your long run…you may want to think of some other options. Normally, you want to try to get up to about 22 miles before a marathon at least once and then the few weeks before, do shorter “long” runs and taper. I think if I was you…I would do the marathon but treat it as an easy training run. If it’s been 2 weeks since your last long run, try to do 16-17 miles either this weekend or next (not the weekend right before the marathon). Then, the weekend of the marathon, aim to run 18-20 miles of it very easy. I would mix in some walking and stretching and just walk the other miles. Then, take a week off and start back with an easy 15 miles. Then, I would continue to train and signup for another one this spring that you can run really good. Running 26.2 is way different than 15. If they had a half marathon option, that would be perfect but I don’t think they do. If you find it too hard to run 16-17 miles before the marathon or your knee is really hurting…don’t push it. I would just take time to heal and run a different race this spring. It’s not worth injuring your knee more. Also, it does sound like you have the same problem as me…but you may want to go see a Dr. to make sure you don’t have an ACL issue or stress fracture.
    Keep me posted!

  • Rob_K August 25, 2011  

    I would love to hear how you made out. I have 6 weeks to go before my first marathon and also am having a bout with Runner’s Knee following a 19 & 20 mile run weekends.

    I am going to try and take a few days off from running until I am pain & swelling free and then try to finish out my last week or two of hard training before the taper.

  • cari August 29, 2011  

    Hi Rob. Thanks for your comment! Actually…my knee held up. It started feeling a little weird the last 4 miles, so I slowed down quite a bit so that I could finish strong. Yeah, I wouldn’t push it. Take off a week or 2 if you have to and do some cross training. Don’t forget to strengthen and also stretch your quads. That helped me a lot. Even stopping to stretch my quads (helps get the patella and tendons re-aligned) during my training runs made a huge difference. During your last 2-3 weeks just do easy runs and be sure to ice your knee after and wear a compression wrap. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • Shawn October 6, 2011  

    I have been scouring the internet for the past 2 weeks wondering if I had runners knee and what I should do (1 month out from NYC Marathon… my first). This is the first post that confirmed it for me. I also feel it on the outside (and I know it isnt far enough outside to be ITBS). I think i have been ignoring my quad strengthening also. Thanks to you i know what to do now! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  • cari October 7, 2011  

    Hi Shawn. Thanks for your comment! I’m so glad I was able to help : ) I was so frustrated for months, so I know how you feel. Just take some time over the next few weeks to strengthen quads a little (don’t overdo it though) and try the other things I mentioned like stretching during runs and using ice a lot. I ran NYC last year and it was so much fun! Good luck and let me know how the knee holds up. Remember, no race is worth hurting your body – so if you have to…just go slow and enjoy the scenery.

  • David October 23, 2011  

    Hi Cari,
    Thanks for the info. Im running my first marathon in a week and have been getting the same knee pain as you described, it has been manageble up to now, Ive just ignored it and it usually goes away. Ive built up my long runs to 20 miles 2 weeks ago and have been pretty good at keeping to a training plan over the last 3 months. Now its seems to be all going to hell. I tried a 12 mile run yesterday and couldnt complete it, the pain was intense, especially when I stopped at lights and tried to go again. I have put alot into trainning for this and to not run it is not an option. Have you any advice for the next week, or even the race just to get me over the line. I was aiming for 3.30 but if I can crack 4 hours on a dodgy knee then I will be happy.
    Cheers
    David

  • cari November 26, 2011  

    Hi David! Sorry for the late reply..I was having a problem with spammers making comments, so I just saw this! How did it go??

  • Jocelyn December 17, 2011  

    Hey Cari!

    I am training for my first marathon which is January 8th. The same exact thing happened to me. About a month ago, I was on my long run which was 17 miles and at mile 12 my knee seemed to just stop working. It hurt SO bad but I ran till 16. I am in college and I was taking a running class, so I was forced to run only days after. At that point I couldn’t even raise my leg. So I took 2 long runs off, did some physical therapy and went back to do 20 miles (big mistake). That set me back even longer. Just today I attempted 15 miles and was experiencing horrrrible sharp knee pains in the bottom right of my knee. With the marathon just 3 weekends away what do I do? It is just too painful to push through at this point, but I have come too far to not keep going.

    Your advice would be SO appreciated!
    Jocelyn

  • cari December 27, 2011  

    Hi Jocelyn! Sorry for the late reply…I’ve been having issues with my comments going through. It sounds like you have “runners knee” just like I did last year. Since you’ve already done a 20 miler, I wouldn’t worry so much about getting in any additional long runs at this point and just start tapering. I would probably just run easy during the week with 2-3milers every other day or so – if your knee can handle it and possibly a 7-10 miler this weekend if you don’t have the pain. But, if it’s hurting you after 2-3 then just stop. Take a couple days off this week and ice it every few hours. Since it’s less than 2 weeks away – you probably won’t be able to strengthen your quads too much, but it can’t hurt to try. Strong quads help your knee and tendons stay in place. So, you may want to still hit the gym and do the leg extension machine (or do lying leg raises with an ankle weight). Stay way from squats and lunges or anything that would put pressure on your knee. Also, KT tape really helped me – so try that and/or a knee brace. Also, during your next few runs – make sure to go slow and really warm up for about a mile and then stop and do quad stretches. Whenever I felt the pain – I would just stop and do a basic quad stretch (keep knees together) and I could almost feel my knee and tendons realigning in the right place and then the pain usually disappeared for awhile or was way less. On race day – I would just adjust your goal pace and see how your knee handles the first 20 miles. If it’s ok- then treat the last 6 as the race. If not, keep it slow. It doesn’t mean your doomed – so far this year I haven’t had the issue again and I have mine on Jan 15th. Good luck and keep me posted!

  • Jason January 1, 2012  

    Cari, thanks for this great post. It sounds just like what I am going through now. Hoping to make it through my first marathon 1/8/12 at Disney World…

  • cari January 2, 2012  

    Thanks, Jason! Good luck with your marathon! If your knee doesn’t hold up – don’t push it. You can always get your let stronger and do another one this spring! Let me know how it goes!

  • Annie February 21, 2012  

    Hello Cari – Thank you for posting this, it is reassuring to me that just maybe I can finish. I’m a newbie runner/jogger and I’m just doing a 1/2 but I’ve been having similar knee pain even after laying off of it for 2 weeks. Do you think it would be alright to use KT Tape and a knee brace together or is that overkill? I just want to finish at this point without injuring myself further. I don’t want to skip the race as I’ve already paid for the registration and travel expenses.

  • cari February 21, 2012  

    Hey Annie! Thanks for your comment. I don’t think it would be overkill. Sometimes the KT tape doesn’t stick too well (depending on how much you sweat) – so it might be good for you to have the brace as a backup. Just make sure it’s not too tight because you don’t want to affect your circulation. I would go pretty easy the first 5 miles and gradually increase your speed with the last 1-2 miles the fastest. You want to be able to finish strong so save any speed for the end. Also – you may want to stop every few miles and stretch it out. I do some standing kicks (leg extensions) to get my alignment back in place and it seems to work! Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

  • Elaine February 22, 2012  

    Hi! So glad I found this. I’m VERY new to running. I signed up for my first 5K in April and have been training for it using the Couch to 5K regimen. Went longer than normal the other day, and by the end of the day my knee was hurting. Not too bad, only hurt the most walking down the stairs. Went for a short run this morning and I could run on it except it’s just this nagging pain. Felt better after my husband help me stretch out my leg. Any suggestions? Kinda worried about this interfering with me being able to do this 5K. Thanks!

  • cari February 22, 2012  

    Hi Elaine! Thanks for your comment! It sounds like you may have runners knee like I have, but usually that starts to happen after you run a lot of miles or are training for a half marathon or longer. However, it’s still possible if you’ve increased your distance too soon. If it is runner’s knee…do what I did and focus on making your quads and other leg muscles stronger (work all of them so you are balanced). Stretching definitely helps too, especially with the quads and IT band (look for stretching videos on line or foam roller info). I would also make sure you are wearing the right shoes for your arch. Most of the time when you have a knee or leg problem when training for 5k’s – it’s related to your shoes. You should go to a running specialty store and they can tell you if you under or over “pronate” (roll the foot in our out) when you run. In my experience, finding the right shoes for your feet (vs. based on style!) can fix most leg problems! Good luck on your race and keep me posted!

  • Elaine February 22, 2012  

    Thanks soooo much! I did go to a running store and got fitted for the right shoes. In fact, they’re the best shoes I’ve ever ran in. The first few times I’ve ran I had no problems. I agree, I think I just went a little too far than I should’ve. How long should I not run for? I’m actually really bummed that I’ll have to take a break from running. Something I never thought I’d ever say.

  • elizabeth hedger February 22, 2012  

    hi. i was glad to find your site given my recent knee injury. i only have 3 more weekends before my first marathon. i am really wondering what i should do in regards to training. so far i have run up to 18 miles. this upcoming saturday i was scheduled to do 20 and then scale down after that, however this past sunday my knee siezed up ( on the side, painful to walk, was limping for 2 days). i’m taking perscription strength inflammatory meds as of yesterday. any ideas on how much to run from here on out? i have been training doing the walk/run method ( walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes) and was doing great until this past weekend when the knee busted. i’d appreciate any guidance you could give me. like i said, this is my first marathon and i have no idea if the 18 mile long run is enough to get me to the finish line march 18th when i have to do 26.2. thanks!

  • cari February 28, 2012  

    Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your comment! Well, normally – I would recommend that you get to at least 22 miles before you run your marathon – but if you’ve already done 18 I think you’ll still be ok. You may just have to go slower and mix in more walking, especially since that’s how you’ve been training. The anti-inflamatories can’t hurt – so I’d keep up with that and also use ice about once or twice a day. I would probably not run this week or next, but mix in some strength training exercises for your legs (avoid lunges and squats though or anything that puts pressure on your knee). Try some easy cross training either with jumprope, spin bike or elliptical to get your heart rate up (only if it doesn’t hurt). Then, the week before your race try an easy 2 or 3 mile jog and see how you feel. If it’s runner’s knee like mine – you can just try to do more quad stretches during your run and see if that helps. If it’s runner’s knee – I think you’ll be fine for the race. But, if you have ACL or patella problems you could make it worse. You may want to go get an x-ray or see a specialist this week just to rule that out. Remember -there are always more marathons! You could do some rehab now and then sign up for one later this spring or fall! Good luck and keep me posted!

  • Ashley March 6, 2012  

    So glad to find your site and see that after a year, you are still getting posts. I had a similar situation. I twisted my ankle when I stepped on a rock on a 9 mile run and kept going because it felt fine. I never had any swelling but it was sore to where I was limping that night. It felt fine until I would go upstairs or sit for awhile. I rested a week then couldn’t make it through one mile, well, I stopped so I wouldn’t further hurt my knee. I did that for 2 more weeks. One week off, then start back slowly. It would hurt around one mile So, I went to see a doctor. The x-rays showed nothing. So, he told me to rest for 3 weeks, and if it still hurts, come back for an MRI. I can’t tell if the eliptical/biking hurts it, so nothing for 3 weeks. I will start back next week (week 3 after rest) on the eliptical. Right now, it still hurts a little. I had hopes to do a half in a few weeks, but I would rather heal up and be able to keep on running than risk further injury. I am lucky and thankful that this is my first injury, but trying to figure this out gets to be complicated. Sorry about the spill, it is just nice to be able to let it out to people who have gone through the same thing. Thanks for the post!!

  • cari March 7, 2012  

    Hi Ashley! Yeah, I didn’t realize how many people out there are struggling to run with knee issues! Injuries happen to us all – no matter what age or shape we are in! But, ouch – landing on a rock is not fun! So, you think it’s more of an ankle issue vs. knee? It kinda sounds like it might be runners knee or a combination of a sprained ankle that also led to runners knee. I would follow your Dr’s advice and try to rest it, especially if your ankle stil hurts. Try the elliptical and also maybe spin bike and jumprope. For me, everything hurt my knee but jumprope and I was able to still get a good cardio workout with that. Swimming would also be good if you have access to a pool. I would probably do the same thing and skip this one since it’s so close and just signup for a new one this spring. You won’t lose all your training by taking a few weeks off – especially if you can get in some sort of cardio a few times a week and also do some strength training. Keep me posted and good luck!

  • Patricia March 14, 2012  

    Hello, I am wondering if it is ok to wrap your knee and run with an injury. I cannot see a doctor as I have no medical insurance. I have not run since October and my knee still hurts too much. I think I could run if I wrap it. Patricia

  • Jennie March 17, 2012  

    Hi. I am training for my first 1/2 marathon. Same story, my outside knee seem to. Give me pain at @ mile 3 or 4. Then it is walk run, when walking the pain goes away. You are an inspiration, any suggestions?

  • Paul March 21, 2012  

    Great post. I have done 3 19-20 mile runs but my knee breaks down at 18 miles and really hurts and hurts for the next 4-5 days. Strange part is it feels fine for the first 16/17 miles then comes on quite suddenly. My marathon is 3 weeks away and really wanted to do a 22 miler this weekend. may run close to home and run till the knee pain comes back. Does this sound similar to your injury any recommendations? thanks

  • cari March 21, 2012  

    Hey Patricia. Well, it’s hard to say. If it’s a minor injury and wrapping gives it stability – then you can try a short run. But, if it’s been bothering you for a long time and hurts every time you run….I wouldn’t risk it. If you can’t see a doctor – I would just stay off of it and let it heal. You may have a stress fracture or have torn a ligament or something. You can try activities that don’t strain your knee until it gets better. Also, just because you don’t have insurance doesn’t mean you can’t get help. Many doctors and clinics will offer discounts for those without insurance. You can also ask for payment plans. Also, tell them that you are doing self-pay and it’s always way less than the insurance price. Also, x-rays are a lot less expensive if you don’t use one affiliated with a hospital or clinic. Check around in your city and call for prices. I have a friend that was told her CAT scan would be $3,000 (without insurance) and she found a specialty imaging place that only charged her $200. Best of luck and keep me posted!

  • cari March 21, 2012  

    Hi Jennie. It sounds like the same problem I had. If you have a month or so before your race – I would do what I did and try to strengthen your quads more. Also, stretching mid-run helps (specifically quads). I dealt with runners knee a little again this year but stopping to stretch during my long runs really helped. I’m going to try to do a video post soon about runners knee and show what I do. But, remember that there are always more races, so don’t risk damaging your knee if it hurts too bad. Also, there is always a chance it’s something else. If you have other symptoms or the tips in my post don’t help – you may want to get an x-ray.

  • cari March 21, 2012  

    Hey Paul. Sorry to hear about your knee! When I had my runner’s knee problem – sometimes it happened when I first started running and other times at mile 18 or so. But, usually it didn’t hurt too bad the days(s) after. I could still feel it though, so I made sure to ice it. Does your knee swell? With runner’s knee it usually doesn’t. You may have an over-use injury like a stress fracture. Probably what I would do in your situation is do a short run this weekend (maybe 12-13), followed by 10miles and then maybe 8. Or do 12, 10, race if you only have 2 more long runs. I wouldn’t risk doing a 22 miler in case you have some other issues going on. If you’ve done three 19-20 mile runs you will be ok. Ideally it’s best to get in 1 22 miler, but you aren’t that far off and since you’ve done 3 long ones and you’ve built up endurance. Over the next 3 weeks I would try to strengthen your quads some with seated leg lifts, the leg extension machine at the gym and other basic quad movements. I would probably stay away from weighted lunges and squats just because you don’t want to put pressure on the knee. I would ice it a few times a week and also stretch your IT band with the foam roller. During the week I would stick to short runs that are 2-3 miles. You’ll need to start tapering anyway, so I think you’ll be fine! Best of luck and let me know how it goes! If it starts to hurt during your race – use your own judgment. If you have to back out and DNF, it won’t be the end of the world. You can strengthen your knee and do another one this spring.

  • Patricia March 21, 2012  

    Hi Paul, no my injury is painful 24/7. I was running and fell into a ditch on my knees. My left knee took the impact the worse. It has been 2 years. I am so frustrated because running is my life. I cannot run at all. You can run for a bit before it hurts.

  • Patricia March 21, 2012  

    Hi Cari, I fell in a ditch 2 years ago. I have not run since, I think, October 2011. I tried my treadmill this weekend and with my knee wrapped I was able to run. I don’t know how long I can go. I typically run long distance. I didn’t think a doctor would even consider seeing me without ins. I will definitely take your advice and make some calls. Thanks Patricia

  • Emily March 27, 2012  

    Hi Cari, Thank you so much for helping everyone. My question is obviously similar – I have IT Band problems, and on a 10mi run the Wednesday before my 21mi, I had sharp lateral knee pain. This was almost a week ago. I did 5 last Thursday, but wasn’t able to even attempt the 21miler. I’m almost ready to get back running, but wasn’t sure of how to approach it. My marathon is 3 weeks away, and I’ve been in pretty good shape for it as I’ve been swimming and strength training a lot as well. It’s my second marathon, and the most that I’ve ran is 19, 3 weeks ago. Any suggestions?

    Thank you SO much!
    Emily

  • cari March 28, 2012  

    Hey Emily! I know tight IT bands can cause all sorts of knee issues and sometimes they can feel similar to runners knee with a sharp pain, etc. You may check with a specialist – but I think that your pain is probably due to inflammation around the IT Band area and possibly friction from moving back and forth (similar to runners knee). So, I would probably spend a little time each day (especially after workouts) icing that area and maybe take some advil or anti-inflamatory medications (only if your doc says it’s ok and you can tolerate it). But, I’d probably do what you are already doing and just focus on cross-training and stay away from anything that would aggravate it. I would stick to swimming, jumprope, interval weight training and avoid cycling (hard on IT Band). I would also do lateral band walks (strengthens glutes too) and use the foam roller almost every day. Just don’t be overly aggressive with it or you could prevent the inflammation from going down. With 3 weeks left – it’s not worth it to get in any more long runs. I would probably see if you can tolerate an 8-12 miler this weekend (if it’s 3 weeks) or if it’s 2 weeks from this weekend just do 5-8 followed by another 5-8 the weekend before. Run easy during the week too. Ideally a 22miler or more would be best, but if you’ve reached 19 I think you’ll be ok. See how you feel race day and treat the first 20 as a training run (stop and stretch if you have to) and the last 6 as the race. Have an ice pack ready for when you cross the finish line too! IT band problems are common – so the good news is that you can definitely overcome it…even if it’s not in time for this race. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • Mark April 16, 2012  

    Hi Cari,

    I think I am suffering from runners knee with only 6 days to go until I run the London Marathon! I did a 20 mile run about a week and a half a go which went fine, then 2 days a go I did a steady 9 mile run. At about mile 7 I felt a pain in my knee but carried on as I only had 2 miles left. Now I am in pain when I walk and like you said above, it hurts more when I have sat around for a while. It is only the inside of my left knee that hurts. Is there anything you can suggest for me to do with such little time left? I don’t feel like I need to train anymore but need some pain relief or tips.

    Thanks, Mark.

  • cari April 17, 2012  

    Hi Mark! Well, with only 6 days left – you definitely don’t need to fit in any more training and it won’t do you any good at all. I would completely stay off of it and try to ice it periodically throughout the day. You also may want to try a compression wrap or even KT tape and then also anti-inflammatory meds (I like Advil) and a glucosamine supplement can’t hurt (it may start working after 1-2 days). I would still go on and plan to run the race but really listen to your body and if you start feeling painful just stop. You don’t want to permanently dammage your knee (if it’s something else). But assuming it’s runner’s knee…it may not get worse during your race. With mine, it would get bad on long runs and then I’d stop and stretch and it would go back to normal and then during my races it actually went ok. Just do easy basic quad stretch (grab ankle or foot behind you and keep knees close together at all times). Do this after the first few miles or whenever it starts to hurt and see if that helps. Just don’t overstretch or try to pull too hard in case you have another issue going on. I would go ahead and just give it your best. Plan on running a little slower than your goal pace, but remember to wait and speed up after mile 20 (regardless if you have an injury) because you may feel great up until that point. Just have fun with it and if you have to step out for awhile or even DNF – you’ll still have a cool story to tell and you can signup for another one this spring or fall. Good luck!

  • Regina June 2, 2012  

    Hi Cari! My knee is bothering me too, but I wouldn’t say it’s painful. It’s more that I notice it. It feels tight or pressured in different places, and at other times my IT band just aches. Sometimes it’s on the side, sometimes its right above or below the kneecap. I can’t tell if it’s Runners Knee or if it’s IT band issues. I’m not sure if I need to make a physical therapy appointment or see an actual doctor. I signed up for my first marathon which isn’t until December, but it makes me a little worried that eventually it’s actually going to feel painful if I don’t take action now. I’ve been trying to do some strengthening with leg extensions and some squats, but I feel like that isn’t helping yet. Any thoughts to share?

  • cari June 21, 2012  

    Hi Regina! Sorry for the delay – some of my comments go to spam : ( It sounds like you may have a little of both runner’s knee and tight IT bands. It can’t hurt to stretch your IT bands every week (use foam roller and do standing stretches). That’s good that you’ve been incorporating leg extensions and squats too to strengthen your leg muscles. Just make sure you are doing them correctly and your knee is proper alignment with the machine (ask a trainer if you aren’t sure). If it still isn’t better in a couple of weeks after doing IT stretches/foam roller and at least 2-3 days of leg workouts (go easy on the amount of weight you use) – then I would go see a doc. I would recommend that you see a sports doctor or “sports therapist” or someone that specializes in runners. They understand athletes better and deal with this kind of thing all the time. They can also give you some routines to do. I would see a regular doc if you suspect you have a stress fracture, or issue with a torn ligament, etc. That’s great that you are being proactive about it now because Dec. will be here before you know it! If it’s not better – you can always scale it back and do a half or just adjust your speed to prevent injuries. Keep me posted!

  • Bonnie H. October 7, 2012  

    Hey Cari, I just completed my first marathon today after dealing with a knee injury 5 weeks ago. Thx so much for your comments. It helped me a lot. After a summer of training not running the marathon was NOT an option. So I too developed a plan for training without running . It worked, my knees felt good today & I finished strong. Just wanted you to know that your posts were extremely helpful to me. Thx.

  • Chris October 15, 2012  

    Hi Cari, great website btw, very helpful. I am training for my first marathon (Auckland, NZ) I suffered a knee injury about 5 weeks ago as a result of my ankle which I think I almost have resolved with some physio, and some orthotics. I have been tentatively running since and generally keeping up my cardio fitness with spin and aqua swimming . It’s still a bit sore so was thinking of the KT tape to get me through the day. Marathon is in 12 days (28th oct) and I am concerned about the effect the injury has made on my endurance. I have done 3x 24km runs and 1x 28km ( when my knee really blew out) plus numerous +20km runs. I was hoping for a 4hr marathon but feeling doubtful now, most importantly I want to finish. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

  • Patrick Bennett October 23, 2012  

    I have a similar problem. I ran the Darmstadt half in early Sep and the Karlsruhe half in end of Sep (i live in Germany). No issues and I was pretty fast. Training now for the Frankfurt full on Sunday and when I made a 30km run 2 weeks ago I was perfect (longest run ever). A few day later on a quick 5km without stretching, i tweaked sometime on the inner and lower side of my knee. I rest it for a week and then ran 8Km and 10KM no issues. Then on Sunday, I felt it again. So with 5 days to go I am resting it and counting on the training I have been doing the last 3 months. And I agree… KT tape does wonders!

  • cari November 5, 2012  

    Hi! Sorry for the delay! How did your marathon go? It sounds like you could have had runners knee as well. However, if it’s more towards the back of the knee…it may be more hamstring related.

  • cari November 5, 2012  

    Hi Chris! Sorry for the delay – I have to sort through spam comments to find the real ones! How did your marathon go?

  • cari November 5, 2012  

    That’s awesome Bonnie!! Congrats on finish your first marathon and more importantly – not getting injured! So happy for you! Keep me posted on your next races! I’m here to help!

  • Lourdes D Tepper November 19, 2017  

    I’m 3 weeks out from my marathon. I have done many halfs, but wanted to try for my first marathon. I have logged in an 18, 19, 20. I’m 3 weeks out from the marathon and over 2 weeks ago I started having IT Band issues. I saw an Ortho doc who gave me a cortisone injection and set me up for PT 2 times a week. I started PT a couple of days ago as well as seeing a chiropractor the other day. I have been doing cross training instead of running. I went out for a short run yesterday, but by mile 4 I was in so much pain. I will have PT 2 times a week and will see the chiropractor 2-3 times a week for the next 3 weeks, but I’m worried because all I could get in was 4 miles and had to stop.

  • Cari Shoemate November 21, 2017  

    Hi Lourdes. I’m sorry to hear that! I know that must be super frustrating since you are right at the end of training. Mileage wise, you probably have enough long runs in to finish the marathon, but ideally you should get in at least one 18-22 miler within the last 4 weeks before the marathon. Tapering this far away from the race would probably set you back some. This is assuming you were actually able to do a few more longer runs. But, it sounds like you won’t be able to do that. Did you get an MRI? You may have another issue going on like torn meniscus or something. If it’s just IT band or even runners knee – you could potentially heal in time to run the race. I would suggest keeping up with the PT and do some leg exercises on your own until the week before the race. Doing strength training a week before a race won’t help much anyway and you’ll just be sore. I would completely rest it the week before. You can always just go try to run and if it hurts you – just exit the course and plan to try another one soon. You don’t want to push it and risk hurting yourself even more and increase the time it takes to heal. There are a ton of marathons all year – so you could just focus on strength training and running short distances and then set your sights on one a few months from now. If you are able to keep up some of your mileage and long runs – you could even just scale back a little and be ready for another marathon in a few months vs. 4-6 months starting from scratch. I hope that helps some. Don’t let it discourage you. Injuries happen to almost all runners and most of the time it’s something that we can fix!

Comment on this post