OP, have you been fitted for running shoes? I think that (and proper running form) makes the biggest difference. I was also concerned about knee issues when I started running (I've been doing C25K), especially after having a little pain with the first couple runs. Then I went to a good running shoe store and they evaluated me and fitted me for new shoes, and I haven't had any knee soreness or pain since then.
I think it's definitely helped me with my cardio and my core. I hate running, but I do recognize that it's been good for me so far and I want to do a 5K this spring.
Very interesting conversation going on so far. I am very uneducated on running in general, so proper form, natural running, etc are things I don't know much about.
I'm currently a little heavier than I'd like to be to starting running a lot for fear of the stress on my joints. I'm opting instead for lower impact cardio at the gym. I would like to get into running (and I've done C25K in the past) because I feel like it's EASY - not physically easy, but if I can work out by throwing on a pair of sneakers and heading outside, not many excuses cut it.
The only thing I was concerned about was the warning from equestrians to stay away from it to preserve my knees/joints. I do have a knee that cracks a lot, not generally painful, but enough that it makes me a little iffy sometimes (now that I think about it, my knee caused me some pain when I last did C25K and my family doc said, from feeling it, something along the lines of my kneecap being slightly off and needing to develop the muscles around it to "keep it in place"). I am happy to take up running once I get down a few sizes, I just want to make sure that running long term won't do me more damage than good.
Moon, what you described with your knee sounds *exactly* like what my knee was doing. You could hear me go up the stairs from four rooms away because my knee went CrackleSnapPop with every step. It had always been creaky but def. got more noticeable with the marathoning. Didn't hurt much, but it felt weak on stairs, and I was really worried that running was causing damage. Quite the opposite-- after 3 years of running, it does not creak at all anymore. Just like your doc said, the connective tissues around it needed to get stronger. Just takes a really long time, unfortunately. Same thing with my ankles-- for the first couple of years, I was always keenly aware of even the slightest camber/slope of the road when I was out running. You don't notice it while driving, but the roads are arched slightly to let water drain away from the center line. I'd have to alternate which side of the road I ran on, and take breaks by running on the center line when I could, because going for miles with that slight-but-constant sideways slope would just kill my ankles. But after 2 years or so, those tendons & ligaments must have adapted and got strong enough, because I stopped even noticing the slope. Running on gravel and uneven surfaces helps a lot too-- just that tiny bit of instability underfoot will make you a lot stronger than bombing it out on a fast track or road.
Take it slow!!! When you are first starting out, doing 1-2miles five times a week is better than running three 3-milers.
I think for the most part you find your own form that's natural to you. I mean, there are some basic, good practices to adopt, but you don't need to try to adjust your whole way of going. In fact I often laugh during a marathon to see the incredibly varied way that people move; pretty sure none of us would ribbon in a Hunter on the Flat class.
Ahh running. How I miss it. In a way. I never felt more fit in my life than during the time (70's, 80's, early 90's) that I was running. Never competitively; just for myself. I did a varying schedule of 1/2-mile, 1-mile, 2-mile, & 5-mile runs with a day or two off here & there. Terrain ranged from blacktop to dirt farm roads. It was wonderful - although my doc at the time said my knees were like warped cabinets & he decidedly did NOT agree with me running. Period. But I continued.
Whether or not my running contributed to the problem, I started having laxity joint issues & spinal issues that ended up in a couple of ground accidents that have left me fairly crippled now. I can walk without a brace now for the most part, but have to be VERY careful how & where I walk. Or how long I walk for.
I haven't been able to even think about ever riding again for more than 10 years now. Sad. Have been told that just falling off in the wrong way could permanently cripple me. Just something to think about runners. It's great, & I still do miss it, but it does do a number on your knees (& ankles). LISTEN when a competent sports doctor speaks. I'm not saying runners should stop running, just that some folks are more prone to certain med situations than others, & you need to pay attention when warning signs start appearing.
And I'm not all that ancient either - especially when one considers I was extremely active until just about 10 years ago. Will hit 57 in 2 weeks.
Last edited by Bacardi1; Feb. 4, 2013 at 05:16 PM.
I'm going to second getting properly fit for shoes. What works for the goose may not work for the gander when it comes to running.
IME, I was running in a shoe that I was told is a "good shoe" and "we get a lot of runners who get these." I'm a run through the pain person, so when I had sudden pain in my knee in last half of a six mile run one day, I started eating ibuprofen before runs.
I had torn my quad (per one PT) or just really fried my ITB (per another). Has never been completely fixed even with intense PT. I was in the wrong shoes, got fit for proper shoes which are the antithesis of all the new barefoot/minimalist shoe peeps now, and I really don't give a damn. I can run. I'm not a trend setter.
Have you found the Runner's World Forums yet? Lots of info on there. FWIW, I ran a half-mary in 1:59:06, took some time off, and am getting back into it. No current mileage right now because I have to get everything back in shape on an elliptical before I can start running, or the knee flares up.
Last edited by TheJenners; Feb. 1, 2013 at 01:39 PM.
COTH's official mini-donk enabler
"I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl
I'm not a doctor or researcher, and maybe there are other studies that contradict this one. But from what I read, this one is considered a credible study, well-designed, etc. It IS true that running carries more risk of injury compared to a sedentary lifestyle, but the incidence of degenerative bone disorders appears to be the same.
I'll take my chances, anyway.
OK, this thread was a fascinating read for me. After a non-horse related injury last spring I decided to start running again for general fitness. There had been a lot of years and several kids since I had run regularly, so it was pretty depressing at first. The cardio-before-ligaments improvements were exactly as described by other posters. Since I'm older than most posting here I was taking my sweet time building time/mileage, but despite that I had a blowout just before Christmas (something went 'twang' like a guitar string breaking in my lower leg and it was all I could do to get off the treadmill) and had to go back to the elliptical for a few weeks. I have *definitely* noticed an improvement in my riding, even with my pathetic mileage. Some of it is muscle strengthening, but some of it is attitude improvement. I feel stronger and more balanced. I did also get sore knees at first, but I found that doing some strength training (specifically, squats to build the muscle on the front of my knee) seemed to eliminate that. I'm not a trainer, but it felt like as the muscle got stronger, the kneecap stabilized and didn't hurt anymore. I may never run a marathon, but I intend to keep running (shuffling?) as long as I can. And thanks FF for the natural running book suggestions -- will definitely check into those. When I ran daily in my 20s I was running in cheap shoes in the 'bad shoe era' and I think many of the issues I had then (shin splints, mainly) were related to that. Would like to avoid that as I become a "re-runner".
When I can run I am usually much fitter for riding then when I can't (I have rheumatoid disease so I cannot always handle the pain level involved.). Usually due to time constraints and balancing working, riding, home life, and now school I will run 8-15 miles a week. When I can't I try to use bike, elliptical, and swimming but sometimes even the gentlest exercise is too much.
I have heard people say that running negatively effects riding but I have found exactly the opposite to be true. That being said though when I was in shape for a 10k my mileage even then wasn't in excess of 50 miles a week.
As far as joints go I have found that it certainly hasn't increased my joint issues at all as far as actual damage but I am not a good measure for joint stuff really.
Add me to the list of people who are slowly, gradually trying to run to improve cardio and fitness. I'm 57 and would like to do a 5K this spring. Yesterday, I over-did it, and jogged 2.5 miles on the treadmill, with a couple of short walk breaks interspersed. My knee didn't feel very well afterwards, so yes, cardio got better before joints and ligaments got better. I will back off. I started with one mile, and gradually built up to 2.5. Here's where I need some help...what is an acceptable beginner pace for a 5K for someone my age? I can do two miles on the treadmill in 25 minutes, so I set a goal of 40 - 45 minutes for a 5K. Is that too slow? Thanks!
There are no "unacceptable" paces! Racing should be fun and a great measuring stick of where you are currently at. Don't wait for the race to chart a new pace territory or you'll probably have a tough outing. 40-45min sounds achievable, assuming your joints hold up.
For the 5k distance, I like to do a pre-race 10-15min warmup jog to get my heart and muscles ready. My advice would be to base your pace on intensity of effort, rather than a set time. For some people, using your breathing rate is a good benchmark. For example, you can start out with an easy 3x3 pattern (three strides as you breathe in, three strides as you breathe out) and get settled into a comfortable pace. Resist the temptation to keep up with faster runners--just let 'em go. Some of them you'll see at the end as you pass them. At about mile 2, pick it up a bit, increase your pace to where a 3x3 pattern is no longer possible, but you can sustain a 2x2 breathing pattern i.e. it shouldn't be a heroic effort to keep that breathing rhythm. And well, for the last 200 yards or however long you feel comfortable with going all-out, kick it in and go for a strong finish. If nothing else, sprinting makes for a great race photo.
I gave up running years ago when I discovered that I could walk as fast as I could run! So I'm a walker--about 12-15 miles per week. I've been pleasantly surprised at how it's helped my leg strength when I ride--a definite bonus, especially since I'm a senior re-rider.
I ran cross-country as a freshman in high school some 25 years ago, and by the end of the season my knees were bothering me, so I stopped. But now I know that I started out doing too much too fast. (Silly "coaches"!)
I started walking and running on a treadmill two years ago as part of a weight loss/get fit program. I started very slow and built up. I did intervals and stopped every third of the way to do a set of prescribed exercises. Eventually, I built up to three miles, stopping at the end of every mile to do the exercises off the treadmill. I was working out 3-4 days a week, so 9-12 miles a week. Then I was easily able to string the three miles together on occasion. I felt stronger and better than I had in years. And no knee pain!
The slow, steady build-up was what worked, I think. It was a program from Health magazine, if anyone is interested.
Due to some nagging heel pain from a stairway slip, I took some time off at the end of August. I was just building back up to two miles again when work and school commitments coincided to steal all my time, but one thing just got taken off my plate, and I'm looking forward to slowly building back up yet again.
And it's done nothing but make my riding better, but that could be the 45 pounds!
I'm not a runner per se, but I do enjoy running...on my elliptical machine! For some reason I like it so much better than running outside. Probably because it's usually too hot/cold/wet out, but I can't come up with too many excuses not to hop on the elliptical in my home office with some music going. I also think it's easier on the joints, if you're worried about knee issues.
I run four or five times a week for 30-45 min. I don't usually check the distance, but I think it's three miles or so, give or take.
Just to point out, and I am NOT being mean, but ellipting (as I call it) and running are not the same. This is coming from someone who has an elliptical in her garage that gets used (unless most ellipticals in garages). When I tore my quad I xtrained with the elliptical, and found that even if I could go X miles on the elliptical, or even X minutes, they did not transfer over to running. It's like college credits...
And the calorie counters are ridiculously off on any machine, ellipticals and treadmills alike.
I did a lot of treadmill work one year because I had a gym buddy who liked the ellipticals, so we went together. I rather like treadmills, I'm a people watcher, but the hour limit is frustrating. And like ellipticals -> running, treadmills and running outside are also different.
But OP, just as an aside, a GOOD treadmill, ie not one you can buy for home use, but a big ole hunky one at the gym, will be far kinder to your joints than running outside on sidewalks. On that note, running on asphalt is softer than concrete and running on gravel/dirt/grass is kinder than asphalt. You'll get more of a workout running on dirt also, as you adjust to all the tiny little imperfections of the ground. Great for tendons in the ankles.
COTH's official mini-donk enabler
"I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl