Thursday, September 22, 2011

Twin Lake Run and the IT Band Syndrome

Pre-dawn darkness of September 11 saw several members of the Hyderabad Running club driving towards the venue of the day’s run – the 21 km twin lake run.

Probably the most picturesque route in Hyderabad, it begins on the bank of one lake, hits the highway along the border of a deer park and goes on to another lake. The route is around 11 kms and a round trip is perfect for a Half Marathon

Here is the link of the route

It was great fun running as a group – though we all spread out very soon based on our speeds, there was a lot of cheering as we met the faster runners on the way back. We had one car doing trips on the route, stopping at strategic points and replenishing us with water, Gatorade and biscuits.

The best part was the finish – all the early finishers were waiting for us and the moment we came in sight all of them started clapping and cheering. I felt like a hero as I crossed the finish line.

What a great experience running with a group of highly accomplished runners.

The IT Band

Two hours into the run and about 6 kms from the finish, I made the mistake of stopping for a drink at the car. Filled myself with Gatorade and my near empty bottle with cold refreshing water. As I stood there at the side of the road munching on a biscuit, I reached out to massage the outer side of my right knee that had been getting worse with pain over time. I thought the massage would ease off some pain and give me relief.

However, the moment I resumed running, I was in for a major shock. There was so much pain in the outer portion of my right knee that I could just not run. I tried running with a severe limp for about 5 seconds hoping that I will be able to find my gait but to no avail.

The end, I thought to myself. Not only would I have to walk all the way to the finish line, my chances of running again looked very, very bleak. Simply kept walking for about 5 minutes, watching other runners disappear into the distance. A couple of them passed me from behind after asking me about my injury. I decided to give it another shot; and gingerly put my foot forward. Then another. Started a slow jog. The limp was gone. A sigh of relief. The pain was there but bearable. Decided to maintain the walk run routine and kept moving towards the finish with a determination. However, the last stretch was psychologically very painful. I kept looking into the horizon for the finish line but the road just kept going on and on.

Finally, reached the end to a rousing welcome from the people who had finished before me. I had done it. The timing too was not so bad; the stop and the walk included I finished in about 2 hrs 40 mins. Kept walking to keep the circulation going and had an energy bar, lots of water and some Gatorade as we waited for the others to finish.

The damage to the knee was considerable as I discovered during the remaining part of the day. I was just not able to put any weight on my right leg despite resting the whole day. Even the next day I was walking around with a pronounced limp. Also, climbing up or down the stairs felt like walking with feet of lead and fireworks going off in the knees with every stair.

Much later, while trawling the net, I found that my ailment is actually pretty common. I was surprised and comforted at the same time that millions before me have gone through the same pain. I found that it is called the IT Band (Ilio-tibial band ) Syndrome. The pain in the outer knee is caused due to stress on a band of muscles (called the IT Band)on the outer portion of the leg that run all the way from the femur to the knee. As a result of this injury, I have been out of action for the past 2 weeks and will attempt a long run again this coming Sunday. Keeping my fingers crossed.

There are techniques to stretch the IT band that helps relax these muscles and reduce the strain. Been trying some of these to see if I can hold myself for the time to complete the long runs.

And oh, if I ever come around starting a music band, I will certainly not name it the IT Band.

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