As you may be aware, I recently ran the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay. I was well prepared for the race. I kept my training mileage up and regularly ran distances over 10 miles in order to prepare my body for the rigor of running three runs in a 24 hour period. Even with all the prep work, the circumstances of the race format lend to some issues afterwards.

Let me explain. The format of the race is simple. 12 runners. 6 in each van. The first van's runners each run a leg of the relay and then hand off the baton to the first runner of the second van. The vans leap frog each other until they have all reached the end of the run 195 miles later. So that means that each runner runs three legs of the race during the course of the 24 hours of the race.

My first run was a 3.2 mile run on a flat stretch of road around 2:30 pm. After the run, I jump back into the van as we follow the next runner along cheering them and providing them water and mental support. So, I ran, then sat. My second run was an 11.6 mile run at 2:30 am (the temperature was around 42 degrees). When I finished I was soaked with sweat and freezing cold. I jumped into the van and sat while we supported the next three runners until we had our break. It was at least 2-3 hours before I was able to really stretch my legs. My final run was a 4.5 mile up hill (8% grade) around 1:30 pm. When I guessed it, I jumped into the van and sat.

The only injury I noticed right away were the intense blisters on both feet after the 11.6 mile run (which made the up hill run the next day even more special). Two days later, around 3 am when I straightened out my legs I felt a crunching sensation in my knees followed by some intense pain. Hello runner's knee.

What exactly is runner's knee? According to Web MD, runner's knee is "a common aliment among runners. But it can strike any athlete who does activities that require a lot of knee bending-like walking, biking, and jumping. It usually causes pain around the kneecap." Yep. Right at the kneecap. Typically a sign of overuse. I not only used my legs (some might say abused my legs) frequently in a short period of time, but sat with my knees bent without stretching after using them. My knees weren't too happy with me.

So the leading question...what now?

Well, there are several things you can do to help your knees heal.

1. Rest the knee/knees.  Try to avoid putting weight on your knee.

2. Ice your knee. To help reduce pain and swelling , ice the knee for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone.

3. Compress your knee. Wrap with an elastic bandage, or use a supportive sleeve to give your knee extra support while it heals.

4. Elevate your knee. Prop your knee up on a pillow when your sitting or lying down.

5. Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Aleve, Advil, or Motrin will help with pain and swelling. Follow the directions carefully and don't use more than recommended.

I have followed these steps carefully and taken the entire week off. Last night I tried a little swimming and felt some discomfort in my knees. So I iced my knees down again. This is just a reminder that although a week seems like a long time to me, my knees may need a little longer. So, the best thing I can do for the next week or two is take it easy, continue to ice when necessary and ease back into my runs. Rushing it will only cause more damage and a much longer recovery period.