This statue of Ares holding Achilles at the Battle of Troy is located in Florence, Italy

Closing out 2023, I received a visit from the “injury bug”; which led me to seek out professional help (physiotherapy) for the first time in about 20 years. I learned the pain and stiffness experienced in BOTH KNEES is called “patellofemoral pain” also known as Runner’s Knee. It occurs when the kneecap mistracks and irritates the femoral groove on the thigh bone (femur). I felt pain and stiffness over the inner side of both knees, inflammation, a sense of cracking with the kneecap (from mistracking). Running and walking downhill especially aggravated the knees.

With both knees affected, I had a pretty good idea what caused patellofemoral pain: being over-exuberant in my return to running after a month off AND not following my own self-coaching advice for returning to running after a planned break. After my break, I started out running at 60% of my pre-break mileage AND added strides. Starting up at this volume and intensity proved too much. I have posted before on RETURNING TO RUNNING AFTER A PLANNED BREAK and included this table below in the post:

Length of Break

Adjustment to Training

1 week or less

0% adjustment to volume or intensity

8 days - 4 weeks

2 weeks @ 50% pre-existing load

2 weeks @ 75% pre-existing load + strides

29 days - 8 weeks

2 weeks @ 33% pre-existing load

2 weeks @ 50% pre-existing load

2 weeks @ 75% pre-existing load + strides

Over 8 weeks

3 weeks @ 33% pre-existing load

3 weeks @ 50% pre-existing load

3 weeks @ 70% pre-existing load + strides

3 weeks @ 85% pre-existing load + strides

As the table illustrates, after a month off, running coaches recommend starting back at 33% (on the cautious side) to 50% (on the ambitious side) of pre-break mileage WITH no strides or hill sprints to start for the first two weeks. Hopefully, readers will learn from my example and take gradual measures when returning to running after a break.

I took about three weeks off from running and replaced it with indoor bike riding. I’m gradually replacing biking and walking with running on flat surfaces. So my 2024 FITNESS RESOLUTION is to gradually increase my distance, intensity, and take on hilly terrain in my running and see how far I can go in 2024. I’m also taking gradual measures when it comes to strength training and stretching the knee joint too. I’ve introduced exercises that strengthen and stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Plus, I’m keeping track of which exercises worked best with this type of injury bug and will file away for later (hopefully though, there won’t be a later :).

Exercise of the Year
This year's selection is a breathing technique which an be applied to exercise. The technique is to exhale as you lift / encounter resistance and inhale as you lower / yield to resistance. Also seek balance between exhaling and inhaling for each rep of exercise. For example with an exercise like the  goblet squat, you exhale to a count of 1...2...3 as you lift the weight and inhale to a count of 1...2...3 as you lower the weight. Same applies to bodyweight exercise like the pushup, exhale to a count of 1...2...3 as you lift the body away from the ground and inhale to a count of 1...2...3 as you lower the body toward the ground. This technique helps make exercise more challenging; so rather than increasing the number of reps, an exercise can be made more challenging by lengthening the breathing pattern. By incorporating more breathing into the workout, more oxygen can get to working muscles. Plus another benefit of this technique is easier control of movement when exercising. 
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Thanks for reading! 


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Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel. I usually post once or twice a month.