Friday, December 9, 2011

The Last Ride of the Season

On Dec. 4, at quarter to noon, I unclipped from my bicycle for the last time in 2011.

November turned out to be a better month than expected. I managed to ride every weekend. I stretched my rule of thumb on weather a little ("never go out on a day when the temperature is below 40 degrees"), as I found that through smart layering of the right clothing and diligently keeping extremities (toes, fingers, head) as warm as possible, the cold didn't bother me as much as last year.

Still -- there reaches a point when all the bundling gets to be a bit much, and the quality of the ride deteriorates anyway (I was out in front Sunday, doing no more than 22 to 24 miles an hour for a stretch, and looked back to see the group had lazily drifted off my back wheel -- that never happens on a July ride).

So now I plan to take at least four months off, to focus on easy spinning in the gym, on a stationary bike. It gives my knees a bit of a breather. Because here's the dirty secret: the kind of intense once-a-week riding that I do is not the best thing for a pair of knees fresh off recovery from chronic pain.

I do it because I love it so much -- and I love the super feeling that comes from this high level of conditioning. I do it because I'm confident I can recognize the danger signs, if my knees start to get in trouble again. This year, I was heartened by the fact that, when the season ended, my knees felt better than a year ago at the same time.

And yet -- a couple of weeks ago, I happened to bend down after a cycling session and heard some extra crunchiness from my right knee. That got my attention.

Which brings us to:

What is that crunchy noise from your bad knees? How concerned should you be about it? How important is it to monitor that crunch, as you try to heal? What's it trying to tell you?

Next week, I'll give you answers based on my own experience.


  1. Hi Richard
    I wanted to let you know that I have runners knee and I am 56 years old. I have had the signs of it for about 5 years. In the beginning I can remember the movie goer stiffness. I did not know at the time what it was. I had to stop running over 2 years ago do to the pain in my left knee that seemed to come out of no where at the time. After I stopped running I figured out what I had, self diagnosis, Runners Knee. So I did the exercises, foam roller and stretching. Sources were youtube and others on the internet. I was thinking I was getting better so I went for a run about 6 month's later. I ran about 1 1/2 miles and limped/walked for the last 1/2 mile. I was nearly on crunches the next day and it took about a week to walk normal. At this time I decided to see a doctor and get the knee fixed. I was not getting any where. The doctor took x-rays and said the cartilage looks remarkably well and conferred with me on the runners knee diagnosis. He gave me a prescription for physical therapy. I'm thinking wow the professionals are going to fit it. They looked at the knee and did not see anything unusual. Next they iced, massaged, stretched, exercised and ultra sounded it. After 2 months of this and no improvement I got a second opinion from a orthopedic surgeon with great recommendations. He looked at my knee and the X-Ray of it. He then had me do a couple of things and felt around and told me I had runners knee and told me to take Ibuprofen for the pain if I wanted to run. He spent about 5-10 minutes on me. Afterwards I decided I to quit the therapy after 2 months of it. I worked on the exercises the therapist had me doing and iced a lot. Guess what after another 2-3 months no help. My knee was no better off. IT would swell if I did to much on it or had a sudden jolt like slipping on the ice or tripping and catching my self on the bad leg. I was getting bummed. I started looking for the magic bullet on the internet, hours and hours. I finally ran across the Runners Bible, I think I paid $70.00 for it. I was desperate. I started doing the exercises, total gym mainly. Thousands of repetitions. I also gave up all the recommend exercises from the therapist. No help in first month. I seen your kindle book. I was on the see saw about buying it. Finally I bought it. As I read the book I'm waiting for your magic bullet to fix the knee. When I finished and there was no magic bullet! I was disappointed. But the more I thought about the studies you presented and how you cured yours, eureka the light bulb went off. Its up to me to get well. I needed to move and monitor and be in the Goldie locks zone(runners bible)to heal. Well I am a over achiever when it comes to exercising. I must have set my self back a dozen or times by over doing it. I did not keep a dairy, but had to remember several times at what I did to cause the pain a day after it happened. The pain is delayed like you said. Walking has done the most for me. I walk our dog 2 miles every night. I have a desk job, but I will get up and walk around if I sit for a long period. I also ride my bicycle some. I have pushed to hard in the knee strengthening areas and set myself back many times. I finally got it through my thick head to back off and gradually increase the weight and volume. Slower than paint drying like you said in you book, I would say much slower than that even. I am not cured but I am starting to run a little and am really working both legs out hard with no pain or swelling. I'm expecting to enter a 5 K in June. 2 1/2 years after I had to stop running. I have to give your book and also the Runners bible credit for my healing. I Gotta thank GOD too. I prayed a lot...:)

    If I had to give anyone advice I would say create a knee dairy(I did not),get a pedometer and walk a lot also be perceptive about what causes pain and gradually increase or maintain exercise level. When in pain rest but keep the knee moving some, Know your limits and don't be a man to the point it sets you back in your progress.


    1. What a great story Ron.. thanks for sharing.. I am finally getting it through my thick head (after 7 years of up and downs) to do something constructive like a plan for healing... may buy the runner's knee bible.. If you are reading this what is your knee pain/situation 3 years later (now)..?