The diagnosis early in February that I have damaged cartilage in my knee certainly changed what I was planning on doing, and this month’s training reflects that. I had a pretty ambitious middle distance race schedule for myself this season, which I’m hoping I’ll be able to hang onto. It includes all 5 Peaks trail runs, somewhere between four and six road half marathons, three or four 8-10k road races and enough flexibility to cram in a spring and/or fall marathon and/or 50k ultra.
My weekly training plan started around 30 miles of running throughout January, with 2-3 core/plyometric sessions and a couple trainer/road rides per week. I figured I would top out around 50-60 miles of running during the heavy race periods and would ensure that, most of the time, weekends would include a run and a ride to keep things balanced. Once my meniscus damage was confirmed, I was told to back off running completely and test short easy runs to see what I could tolerate without additional tightness. I was also told to stop all jumping and joint compression exercises (aka plyometrics), but that I could easily increase the cycling I was doing.
The only race I did in February was the First Half half marathon, which took place immediately after my meniscus diagnosis just as I halted most of my running for the remainder of the month.
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My weight also fluctuated very little during the month of February. I was hoping to get and stay down below 150, but I started the month at 154.4 and ended the month at 155. I had dipped to 152 right after the First Half race, but since my running all but stopped after that and my cycling ramped up, I wasn’t burning calories at the same rate.
Since I was diagnosed with the cartilage damage on February 8th, most of this month’s mileage is before that time. I think I did one or two more easy 5k’s and the 21k race itself after this point, so probably 35 of my 54 miles of running was likely complete in the first third of the month. I’m guessing I would have topped 100 or a bit more for the month. That still wouldn’t have quite been my target, but would have been better than I did. As of this writing, I’ve tested the medial brace three times and, now that I’ve got it figured out, I’m beginning to think I might actually get one. Extended health care should cover it and, at close to $900, it better be covered. Certainly on some of the hard, hilly stuff, it seems to help a fair bit. It might even allow me to play ultimate this summer.
I hadn’t cycled much in the early part of the month, but managed to ramp it up a bit after the diagnosis, so the pattern is pretty much the opposite of my running. There is not much to report here, except that I’m using my trainer more and more and expect to be hitting the road as early as the weather permits. I’m consulting my little book of workouts to try to build a program of leg strength, power, force and endurance. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be kind to my knee is anything that requires standing and grinding away with my big ring, so I’ll be modifying workouts that call for that, at least until the joint tightness begins to ease down the road.
My one or two plyometric and resistance sessions per week has given way to something entirely different. I’ve got a progressive daily program of partial drop squats, single leg squats and leg lifts, to which I’m also beginning to add a few other proprioception exercises. The goal is to build joint and connective tissue strength slowly and drive more blood to the cartilage, to aid in healing it somewhat. I didn’t track everything last month quite as well as I should have and will be more diligent in March to get a clearer picture of my patterns. I’ll probably do a separate post outlining my program once it’s solidified and I have a better understanding of what’s working and why.
In March, I expect that I’ll achieve a good balance of short running and longer cycling, while the mileage may even be in more stark contrast than February’s. Given my new knee reality my goals for March are more around the number of sessions, as opposed to time or mileage. I’m hoping to do at least 12 runs and rides each, while I do at least a resistance session a day. Since I’m trying to add three weight sessions to daily core/rehab work, that should be very achievable.