Yesterday I did a 9-mile hill workout. I was a bit concerned about it because my knee was bothering me and I hadn't yet received the knee brace I ordered. For the first mile or two it was definitely not feeling great. There wasn't a lot of pain but I could just tell that something wasn't right. But after I warmed up, the knee started feeling better, just in time for the hills. Miles 1 and 2 were mostly downhill, 9:27 and 8:58. Mile 3 had the first big hill, 150 vertical feet, and I did it in 8:48. Coming back down, I sped up just a bit more. I was worried about hurting the knee, so I still tried to rein it in: 8:36. Mile 5 was back up basically the same hill, 8:48.
Then by Mile 6 I was really starting to feel good (and it was downhill), 8:00. 7 was another big uphill, 8:27. Mile 8 was very hilly, 7:57. By Mile 9, slightly less hilly, I was beginning to wear out a bit, 8:07. If you account for the hills, I was pretty much doing negative splits for the whole workout, speeding up as I went along, which is always a good thing; it shows I'm able to control my pacing. My knee actually felt a little better after yesterday's workout than it has in a while.
Then yesterday afternoon my knee brace arrived. This morning, a 5-mile recovery run, would be my first chance to use it. It felt a little strange when I first put it on, and I was worried that it might slide down my leg as I ran. It has a little spring to it, and it almost flings your leg forward as you straighten it. But after running about a half mile, I got used to it. I was definitely feeling less pain as I ran, and my knee just felt more solid.
However, the brace does chafe my skin a bit, especially at the edges. I'm wondering if I should wear it for my planned 18-mile run tomorrow. I think I will, but I will probably use a little Body Glide to try to prevent it from chafing through the skin. I'm really hoping that running with the brace for a while will be all I need to get the knee back in shape.