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Leading into Sunday morning, I had run 42 miles for the week.  For me, that’s a lot.  During the peak of my training for both Smuttynose and Boston I hit 55 miles per week, but I don’t normally live in the 55 – 70 mile per week range.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever hit more than 55 miles in a Monday to Sunday stretch.  By Saturday afternoon my right knee was feeling a little wonky (yes, non-runners, that is a technical term).  When I woke up Sunday it was downright aching.

I stared at my schedule:

17 miles.

I had been here before.  Achy knee, long mileage, determination.  I had powered through it and then proceeded to have to take a week off from running.  I knew that I shouldn’t run but I still reached for my shorts.  Fortunately for my knee (but unfortunately for my little one) Brooke had been up sick that night.  The double-whammy of my restless sleep and my achy knee finally got the better of me and I went back to bed.

When I woke up at a more decent hour the knee hadn’t improved.  In fact, in addition to the achiness, it now had a clickiness (yes, that’s the technical term for that).  I sighed.  Maybe jumping up to the 12/70 plan* wasn’t such a good idea.  Maybe training for another marathon so soon after Boston wasn’t such a good idea.  Maybe I was going to need to take a little time off.

The fact that I felt a little under the weather didn’t help my mood.  Nor did the fact that Brooke had been the target of teasing on Friday help either.  I was mentally, physically and emotionally down shot.

I looked at my knee – pissed and pissy.

***

As I looked at my knee though, I realized that my stretching routine had gone by the wayside.  Yes, I stretched my quads and my hammies; my calves and my lower back – but I had essentially stopped doing —>>>THESE<<<— two stretches on a regular basis.  They were the two stretches that got me out of my endless cycle of running long miles and knee pain.

I immediately did the ITB stretch, held it for 40 seconds and …presto!… almost like magic the achy knee went away.  Had it not been already mid-morning, I would have slipped on the running shoes and been off for my 17.

The achiness stayed away for most of the day, finally returning in the evening.  40 seconds later and relief was once again mine.

After putting the family to bed, I decided to make up at least some of the miles I missed in the morning.  Due to time I only got in 9 miles, but I’ll take it.  Afterward I made sure to stretch.

It is obvious to me that the ITB tightens when the mileage gets high, but as long as I do —>>>THOSE<<<— two stretches, hopefully I will be fine.  The question becomes, “what is the mileage limit that those two stretches can counteract?”  When I was training for Smutty and Boston I peaked at 55 miles per week in both training cycles.  My current plan has me peaking at 70 miles.

70.

Wow!  That seems like a lot of miles.

You tell me if I’m wrong, but for now, I think I’m going to stay the course and continue to up the mileage (in conjunction with the stretches).  If the knee does not improve with the stretches, I will dial it back.

What would you do?

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*The 12/70 plan is the 12 week marathon program I am following that starts at 55 miles per week and peaks at 70 miles per week.

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