So my greatest concern as my training progresses is suffering an overuse related injury. This is another of the reasons why I am comfortable having so many days off from running as part of my training schedule (see previous post for my schedule). It's also the only problem that I had when training for the Huff 50k a few years ago. Specifically, I had trouble with my left knee, which I am fairly certain was due to iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). Best I can figure this is when a tendon that runs the length of your knee starts rubbing against bone.
Check out this site for more information on ITBS. To me, it feels like a sharp pain in my knee that only affects me when running and goes away when walking. It is also more intense when going downhill.
I'm not a doctor, etc... However, here's what has worked for me gleaned from a variety of readings.
1) Stretch. Honestly, I hate to stretch, but in the long run this has been the most effective treatment for me. Runner's World has a good description of the stretch that I use. From what I have read it is important to stretch after running and not before. Your muscles should be warmed up after a run and you are less prone to injure yourself. My strategy is just to stretch whenever I am thinking about it. I leave a jumprope laying around as a reminder to stretch at least once or twice a day. That and Elliott likes to play with the jumprope.
2) Stop. I've had trouble following this advice myself, but it is important. Continuing to run just further inflames the area. This is typically an overuse injury. Don't run so much.
3) Change shoes. I have mixed feelings about this. Most website claim that overpronation is a problem and you should switch to a more stable shoe. I've actually had more success switching to a less stable shoe--specifically the Nike Free. I'm not sure what this means, but if it works what can you say?
4) Glucosamine Sulfate. Okay, you should always be careful about taking supplements, but these seem to be effective for me. I take 500-1000 mg per day. My verterinarian thinks the stuff is a good idea and recommended that I even give some to Casey to make sure his joints are healthy in the long run. You can find some more information here. I also take fish oil (anti-inflammatory) and multivitamins. I use whey protein as a supplement too--largely because Holli and I don't eat much meat.
5) Ice. In the past I have iced my knee after running. I think this is a good idea if you start having a problem. However, I recommend stretching and even taking glucosamine first as preventative measures. I've had success with this strategy so far... Well, at least until last weekend. See comments below.
Now, part of the reason that I bring this up is that my right knee started bothering my while running in Victoria. I'm fairly certain that this is because I stopped stretching and taking glucosamine while I was there. Perhaps the lower protein consumption also made a difference--who knows? I'm going to try and take it easy this week and see how things go. Luckily, there is still ample time before the race for me to take a step back without throwing off my training too much.