Knee Arthroscopy for Meniscus Tear with Return to Marathons

What is your story about?
I'm 31 years old. When I was a sophomore in high school, I tore my meniscus. The subsequent knee arthroscopy left me with about 5% of my meniscus. Since that surgery, I've run 5 marathons and countless half marathons. An unloader brace has also been critical in helping me continue to run pain free.
What symptoms did you experience and how did they progress over time?
When I was a sophomore in high school, I tore my lateral meniscus on my left knee. It actually tore in half and flipped up on itself, effectively acting as a shiv in my knee so I couldn't straighten it.
What was the surgery and recovery like?
The surgery left me with about 5% of my meniscus left in tact. In terms of recovery, it's not a peach, that's for sure. In the months immediately after my arthroscopic surgery, I was able to basically do everything with zero pain. The only thing that sucked then and sucks now is jumping and landing at a different angle (think after a layup in basketball).
Have you been able to return to running?
Since that surgery, I've run 5 marathons and countless half marathons on it. Some days are worse than others. Generally, I'm pain free in my knee, but if I had a hard workout the day before, or tried cross training, I'm feeling it the next day. I'm sure that some runners don't recover from those types of tears, but as long as you follow your PT's advice, you should recover just fine.
Do you use any type of knee brace?
I did 3 marathons without any knee brace support, but the constant wear and tear of a marathon training cycle has forced me into an unloader brace. The brace basically shifts the weight off of the bad side of your knee and onto the side with a meniscus left in place. It is a god send, and if you are feeling discomfort a few years after your surgery, go get one of these bad boys. Since I've gotten that unloader brace and worn it while working out, I've been feeling much better in my day-to-day activities.
What advice would you give to fellow runners?
Make sure your orthopedic surgeon and PT are running-literate. I've had a couple who just didn't want me to run at all, but I just couldn't give it up. I asked around to my network of local runners and found a couple of individuals who are fantastic, and are doing everything they can to keep me running for as long as possible.