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Running a Half Marathon after ACL and Meniscus Reconstruction Surgery

I'm sweating so much when a gentle breeze hits me, I shiver. I like looking at my feet because it helps me focus on my form, but I look up because I'm hoping to see the finish line. When I look up, I find that I'm running uphill, and I can't stand the thought of one more mile.

This past Sunday, I ran six miles. When I say "ran," I mean I jogged at my ideal pace. It's 2021, which means it has been a solid three years since my ACL & meniscus reconstruction surgery. Yet, my knee is not the same. It's safe to say I had a wonderful, skilled doctor, but a knee injury will always be a knee injury.


Because I have total faith in my doctor and my physical therapist, I know I'm cleared to run, as long as I listen to my body, which I do. I also continue to implement good stretching and recovery practices (stretching before & after running, lots of patience, strength training, icing, etc.)

Anyway, I asked my followers across Instagram and Twitter if I should document this training process, given my unusual knee journey. I received more yeses than nos, so here we are.



The Injury

I used to play soccer. I played it a lot, but I didn't play responsibly. I played for a high school in El Paso, TX with an impressive soccer legacy. At the time, I didn't know how much my mental health depended on the sport. When I got to college, I realized I didn't just miss being on a team; I missed playing competitively.

Although I had begun playing in local soccer leagues/clubs in high school, those teams weren't the same. The level of competitiveness was lower than what I was used to in my high school soccer program, and I needed my fix. I went from playing on one Sunday league with dynamically aged women to playing on two leagues, two to three games a weekend. I added a co-ed league, so I could challenge myself against men. Let me tell you, outrunning a man on a soccer field at 124lbs, 5'4, is one of the greatest feelings I've ever known.

Anyway, outrunning men had its downfalls. For example, some men hated me for it. One day, one man hated me enough to sideswipe me at full speed. My leg was planted firmly on the ground, setting up an assist and his ego changed my life forever. I'd never experienced pain like the one I felt. I ended up in the emergency room and was told I had a knee sprain. I was misdiagnosed. In fact, my ACL was torn.

Eventually, I "recovered" and began playing again. I kept getting injured. I couldn't run too fast or cut a player because my knee buckled, gave out, etc. Then, my meniscus proved the original diagnoses wrong. While playing on an indoor intramural team, my knee gave out once more. Only this time my knee buckled and refused to resume normal functions.


At first, I thought my knee was just swollen. As soon as the swelling came down, I'd be able to extend my knee. Only that day never came. My job at the time required me to walk 1-3 miles a day, and I couldn't keep getting by on a bent knee and limp. When I finally visited the doctor again, an MRI revealed the worst (imo). My meniscus had been working overtime for over a year, since my ACL tore, and finally gave up. It wedged itself in my kneecap and made it impossible for my knee to extend. I was scheduled for an expedited surgery, and I've been soccer-free since.


The Recovery

I can write an entire entry about this. For now, I'll keep it short. My mom gave up a lot to help me recover, so I promised her I wouldn't play soccer again. I picked up running.


Today

Since my recovery and doctor clearance, I have begun running regularly. As a soccer player, running becomes second nature. One cannot exist without the other. After the depression of never being the same again settled, I began running again. First, .25 miles. Then, half a mile. Then, 2 miles. My times will probably never be as fast as they once were, but I'm grateful to be able to run at all.


After this week's six miles, my knee was uncomfortable. It's not blatantly painful. I don't walk around wincing incessantly, but I feel discomfort. My left leg's biggest problem is muscle soreness in the glutes, quads, hamstrings, etc. My right leg, with the knee, that one experiences muscle soreness AND slowness. What I mean by discomfort and slowness is this: I can't stand up quickly. I resemble my grandparents when they rise from their chairs slowly and catch their breath before beginning their journey to the kitchen. My knee feels like if it could squeak, it would like it's rusted and needs WD-40. And although it doesn't hurt like a stab, it hurts like a neck does after it slept wrong.

After this past Sunday's 6-mile run, I'm halfway through the training. This week, I'll kick off my first run with 4 miles and end with another 6-mile run on Sunday.

I follow the schedule below. After researching a few plans, I found one I felt comfortable with on RunnerWorld.com (https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/half-marathon/a25887045/beginner-half-marathon-training-schedule/)


Thanks for reading!

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