Thursday, June 28, 2007

What about my knees?!

How many times have you heard people say, "I don't run. Running is bad for your knees." We've all heard it at some time. Generally this is a person that has never run before in their life, an ex-runner that has torn up their knees from abuse, or just a lazy out-of-shape person making another excuse for their current state. Well, is running actually bad for your knees? Yes and No. What does this mean? I will try to answer this based upon my past running experience. First of all, anything in excess can be bad for you. Yes, even beer, wine and pizza! I think we all know that, but did you know that water can too. Yes, too much water can kill you. It's called hyponatremia. Getting back to the point, too much running and only running can tear up your knees. Again, nothing in excess. I will use myself as an example here. I have run 56 marathons to date and many 100+ Milers around the world. Plus, I weigh 195 lbs. That's a lot of abuse on my poor old knees. Sorry guys. And, knock on wood, have never had a major knee problem. Oh, I've had the occasional standard runner issues like ITB syndrome, plantar fascitis and tendinitis in most joints, but nothing serious. You may wonder how a short, stubby, balding guy can run so many miles and escape serious knee injury. Well, here's my story and I'm sticking to it. I started serious strength training around the age of 14. For many years I was a Powerlifter only. No running. I actually got into running because my meathead buddies like myself said, "Dude, you're too big to run." Of course that was all I needed and like Mr Gump, I started running and have not looked back. Luckily though, I have never stopped strength training. I continue to perform squats, deadlifts, lower body calisthenics and plyometrics. This, combined with a good amount of cross-training, has been my saving grace. I strength train heavy, 2-3 times per week, and I listen to my body, especially my knees. I love to run, but when my knees say,"leave me alone for a couple days," I do just that. When this happens, I'll substitute a run for a bike ride or jump on the elliptical machine. In addition, I try as much as possible to keep my body fueled with wholesome, healthy foods and lots of water. Of course I still enjoy the pizza and beer on the weekends, you've gotta stay human. To sum my rambling up, if you are going to run, you need to make sure you implement a couple days of strength training, incorporate some cross training and keep your body properly fueled and hydrated. Will this work for everyone? Who knows, but it'll definitely help and has certainly worked for this 37 yr old UltraRunning Clydesdale. "Running doesn't tear up your knees, the lack of a well rounded plan does!" Stay Long. Strong. Fast. Fit.

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