Marathon Thoughts and Knee Pain Reduction

For someone who is training for their marathon, having an injury 6 weeks out is not an optimal situation.  Having an injury period is not optimal but since essentially since breaking my arm a month ago my training has left a lot to be desired.  I was talking with a friend the other day and made this bold statement.

If you had asked me to run the New York City Marathon August 1st, I think I would have been in better shape and capable of running faster than if I ran right now.

My training in the last month has been anything but consistent-40 miles, 40 miles, 90 miles, 40 miles.  Since I haven’t been racing as frequently  my speed work has been reduced as well.  To point out the obvious I still have another 5 weeks before the marathon to get back on track. If my knee is continues to be pain free I can start to really prepare and get myself back to the shape I was.

I didn’t go into much detail about my actual knee pain but it was in the top inner corner of my knee.  It almost felt like a giant bruise on the top of my knee cap and hurt more when doing a quad stretch then running.  When I bent it at a 90 degree angle is when I felt the most pain.

I actually had a few questions of what I did last week to try and reduce my knee pain as much as possible.

  1. First I rested my knee.  Most importantly if I had run through that pain in the beginning of the week it would have gotten worse and I would be limping this week too.
  2. Baths: I took an ice bath and an epsom salt bath.  I find it a lot easier to take Epsom baths so I will continue that this week.
  3. Deep tissue massage.  I found this helped the most and reduced a lot of soreness after my 20 miler last week.  (This was probably the most helpful to me beside resting).  It took me a while to locate a place in town and I was half ready to drive the 180 miles to San Antonio if it wasn’t an option here.
  4. Foam rolled, stretch, iced and self massaged.  This is something I should do more frequently but don’t.  I am making more of an effort to do all of these.
  5. Changed my shoes. After the advice of multiple people I decided to retire a pair of Newtons that I only got about 200 miles in (as opposed to 600 miles).  Considering I’m on a budget and was not foreseeing buying a new pair before the marathon this was the hardest part for me.
  6. Running on flat, soft terrain.  My second 20 miler I tried to find as much flat and stable terrain as possible.  I think this helped me knee a lot and combined with different shoes is why I felt almost no pain.
  7. I also had a few solid cries but that is just me being real with you.

So that is my “injury reduction” methods for my knee.

Edit to add: My knee pain is 100% gone since last week. 

Questions for you:

Have you ever felt less prepared as a training cycle progresses?

What is your best advice for niggles? 


  1. As someone who had to give up training for her first full due to knee pain, I totally feel you!

    All of your tips are great! I would also add strength training as a preventative measure. It is funny (kind of) that as runners we often don’t realize all the things we should be doing to prevent injury until we are actually injured! To prevent knee injury (PFS or runner’s knee) it is super important to have strong quads and strong and flexible hips, so squats and lunges as well as core work and yoga are all really important.

    I wish I had known this 6 months ago, so hopefully this comment will help prevent someone else from getting injured!

    1. Wow I am sorry to hear that. Thank you for your advice. I do a bit of strength training regularly actually. Just things like you mentioned squats and lunges because I know without them I will get injured.

      (My body has consistently shown me I’m not a runner that can get away with just running. I need to cross train/strength train).

  2. Fitness wise you’ll be just fine. You’ve done so much work and your body doesn’t forget it. All those half marathons you raced are more quality tempo runs than most do. With 3 weeks of real training before taper, all you need are a couple of marathon paced workouts to restore some confidence. You’ve done the physical training, the rest is mental.

    Only thing I’d add to your knee pain recovery plan is some strength work. Sounds like an overuse pain so the ice and massage minimizes the pain but strengthening your quads, glutes, and hamstrings will prevent the issue from coming back and provide some more stabilization.

  3. I have nothing for “niggles” except some rest, etc. but I really do recommend some weight-bearing exercise (squats, e.g.) to strengthen joints and connecting tissue. Since I’ve been doing a routine regularly – only very mild symptoms that I can train through.

  4. I know you feel less prepared, but you really have put in a LOT of solid work for this marathon. You’ve had some great races, and high mileage weeks and your body knows that. You are still going to rock NYC and have fun doing it! (Ok, you might hate some parts of it, but that’s just a part of marathoning, good miles and bad miles!) Many people would have thrown in the towel by now Hollie, and despite all of this life craziness you just keep going! So proud of you!
    Great tips by the way. You did everything right with this knee pain and I am getting more and more excited for you to run NYCM!

  5. You have been so smart about all this and I am incredibly proud of you. I really agree with everything jen has to say above and can’t add much besides reinforcing the fact that I can’t wait to watch you rock NYC!

  6. Take care of em’ while you get them. I have no tips, tricks, secrets of the trade, only you know deep in your heart what is right. I could had prefaced this comment with: I’m some random 37 year old dude who used to run CC and play hockey at Oswego years ago … Right now, in this moment, with two partial knee replacements, too many micro fracture surgeries to even remember. All I have to add – Listen to your heart, no excuses, just listen.

  7. So glad the pain is gone!! When it comes to wonky parts I just ice, stretch, compress, and try to move a bit. I have noticed that for my knee when I sit it starts getting craptastic. Walking will hurt for a second then it will start to feel better.

  8. My first half I let life get in the way and with 3 weeks out missed half my runs. Definitely felt more prepared before that happened.

    I never was injured until this hip thing over the summer. I didn’t XT much at all and my stretching/recovery was poor at best. I’m hoping teaching classes helps with everything since I’m basically forced to XT!

    1. I have found that if I don’t cross train I get injured. It was a hard realization for me to make but it has since worked out. Glad to hear everything is working for you 🙂

  9. Glad to hear the knee feels better! My body has definitely noticed an increase in mileage the past two weeks, which means I’ve been wearing my compression sleeves more frequently. 😉 I’m with you when it comes to changing running surfaces too. Yesterday morning, a few teammates and I ran on the Bridal Path in Central Park (dirt path, aka not concrete), and my body–my knees especially–felt a lot better.

  10. I agree with all of the comments above, especially those that are noting all the work you’ve already done. I think the best thing you can do is to respect the taper when that time comes, and trust your training. The taper is when you can do all the rehab activities and not have new pains and issues to worry about. You’ll arrive at the start line with supercharged legs!

  11. Your training is solid. Now is the time that lack of confidence starts creeping in – at least for me. Try to take the pressure off yourself a little bit to enjoy the final weeks of training. Listen to your body, cross train effectively, and run wisely.

  12. 100% gone is what I like slash love to hear. I think your training is what will carry you through this race and I have no doubt you will rock it. I know insecurities are the toughest at these times but you got this.

  13. Rest is definitely the best advice for niggles and I agree with a GOOD massage. You have to go to someone who knows a runner’s body; otherwise, you’ll get a mediocre massage for the normal joe. We all know runners aren’t normal joes. I’m so happy to hear your knee pain is GONE. 😀

  14. Definitely strength train and just listen to your body. Massages win so much, too. You have been through so much, you totally deserve to kill this 🙂

  15. I think it’s pretty normal to feel less prepared as your training goes on – especially when training for your first. I totally get how it can be such a roller coaster though; even though I love training, I certainly go through many ups and downs during it.

    Interestingly enough, the spot of your knee pain is where mine was last year, and where it started to show up again for me over the past few weeks. My personal, non-medical-professional opinion is that an overly tight hip flexor/quad has been causing it for me. Sports massages have helped me, along with this stretch: (though I’m not nearly that flexible). I do it 30 seconds, 3x each leg after every run. Just offering this up as an FYI, maybe it will help you too. I’m glad your pain is back down to 0 though! I’m sure it’s just a bump in the road, and I think you handled it very well.

  16. I think EVERYONE feels less prepared for the marathon. I think it’s part mind and part matter – you are anxious for sure, but your body is also fatigued. You’ll get some bounce back in taper in my experience.

  17. Less than a month until the Empire Marathon and I still haven’t knocked out my long run(s) yet. I can just cross-train my way to 26 miles, right? Lol

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