No Knee-Pain, How to do Non-Girly Pull-Ups and Other Milestones


If it weren’t for the slight soreness in my legs this morning, I wouldn’t believe that I actually ran 18 miles yesterday.

It was my first truly long run of the training season, and it went better than I had anticipated. In years past, I’ve run the trail (clockwise) starting at Langlau, around the Kleiner Brombachsee,  Igelbachsee, and the Grosser Brombachsee, and by the time I get to Ramsberg I am either in serious pain or…well…I’m usually in serious pain.

The first year of marathon training, I was sucking down ibuprofen and goo packs to get me through–little did I know those things actually harmed my performance. The ibuprofen didn’t help and the goo exasperated the swelling, which helped my kneecaps to slide out of place.

The second year of marathon training was better, though my knees ached by mile 15, even with the knee braces.

So, imagine my surprise to arrive at the beach at Ramsberg yesterday with nothing more than my calves feeling a little tweaky.

This year of training has been the best thus far. And it is the first year that I’ve actually accomplished a few of my goals (that I first wrote about in my original blog,

One of my goals was to run without knee braces and no knee pain.

When I saw the physical therapist before my first marathon, she said I could only run if my knees were taped. I had the dreadful feeling there was no way I’d ever be able to run without some sort of device strapped to my knees.

It was more plausible that I would have bionic legs before I would have healthy legs, because I know myself and how lazy I am.

But here I am, nearly three years later, twenty pounds lighter, fueled by plants, minimally shoed and running pain-free.

So far, so good.

In case you didn’t know this about me, in addition to being lazy, I am stubborn, so sometimes, stubbornness cancels out my laziness.

I hold the belief that women should be able to do ‘real’ pull-ups–especially with all the training we get toting toddlers and wrangling strollers.

While I’m not up to ten ‘real’ pull-ups (another goal), I can do four of them, which shows tremendous improvement. And honestly, I never thought I had the dedication required to accomplish something like that.

I began by simply hanging from the pull-up bar whenever I would go down to the basement to switch out the laundry, which, having four kids, happens frequently.

*tip for parents: put the pull-up bar near the laundry room!

Once I could hold myself up on the bar, I started lowering myself to the breaking point, which is signified with an audible groan and a free-fall in a quivering heap.

After a couple weeks of laundry, I got the bright idea to try and lower myself a few millimeters and pull myself up (brilliant, I know). I was so proud of my ‘baby’ pull-ups I boasted to all my friends, who lovingly applauded me like the preschooler I am when it comes to meeting milestones.

Then, the unimaginable happened: I tried ‘real’ pull-ups, and I ended up doing four (before again falling in a quivering heap).

I’m pretty sure that after another month of laundry, I’ll be doing pull-ups for real.

Next come push-ups. And organizing my basement. And mountain marathons. And ultra mountain marathons. And publishing a best-seller.


Sometimes goals seem too big, until you begin to meet them.

I never thought I could run with no knee pain. I was told it was genetic, and that one leg was longer than the other, and that I needed inserts. But by taking a holistic approach, switching my running style and eating habits, and actually working my weak muscles, I’ve been able to overcome the knee pain.

I thank God for that.

I knew I’d never be able to do pull-ups because I could barely hold myself up on the bar–and it was hard. And while I am great about dreaming about doing hard things, I’m not always so good at the actual DOING part. And yet, I can do four pull-ups.

So, if I can do pull-ups, why not best-sellers & ultra marathons? Stranger things have happened.

I don’t expect perfection, nor do I expect things to work out exactly as I dream they will, but I do know there are certain things I have control over.

If I allow my stubbornness to trump my laziness, I may soon find myself doing push-ups in a clean basement.


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