Running an ultramarathon is an athletic feat like no other. Completing the training is a challenge in and of itself. You really have to train hard to complete a 50 or 100-mile race! Throughout ultramarathon training, it is normal to be sore and tired, especially after your longest and most demanding training runs. It is important to know the difference between soreness and a true injury. Here are some common injuries to watch out for during your training.
IT Band Syndrome
The IT band is a band of connective tissue that runs from the outside of your knee to the outside of your hip. It's common for the IT band to tense up and become sore if you over-work the hamstrings, which are the muscles along the back of your thighs. IT band syndrome is especially common in ultra runners who start doing a lot of hills after mostly running on the flat. The downhill portions are especially hard on the hamstrings, and then the hamstrings pull on your IT band.
If you start feeling pain along the outside of your knee, you likely have IT band syndrome. Often, the pain will be worst at the start of a run and will diminish as you continue to run. Visit a sports medicine doctor if you develop this condition. They can show you some stretches to ease the pain, and also some hamstring exercises to keep the condition from coming back in the future.
Patellofemoral syndrome is swelling and pain in the ligaments that connect your patella to your femur. This condition often develops in ultra runners who increase their distance fairly quickly. For example, if you ramp up from running 50 miles a week to 70 hours a week, you'll be at an increased risk for PTFS. It causes pain under and around the kneecap. The pain may be mild at the start of your run, but become more severe as you run on it.
A sports medicine doctor may recommend cortisone injections to speed the healing of PTFS. This area does not get a lot of blood flow and can be very slow to heal without them. They should also show you some stretching and strengthening exercises to do for your knees and the surrounding muscles.
Training for an ultra is hard but rewarding. Make sure you watch out for these injuries and seek care from a sports medicine doctor when needed.