Does Running Ruin Your Knees?

runner-knee-beginnerThis is one of the oldest fitness myths around and it has been proven to be just that…..A MYTH!  A recent study was done on thousands of patients to see the development of knee osteoarthritis as they aged.  The results showed that non-runners were more likely to develop arthritis over runners.

 

The journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise published another study on the topic of knees, running and arthritis.  It dealt with the knee joint and osteoarthritis.  Not only did running not cause osteoarthritis in the knee joint but runners had less incident of it as compared to walkers.

 

The high impact of running, that some believed was harmful, can actually make the knee joint stronger by thickening the cartilage. The impact also stimulates bone growth, making the joint stronger, and strengthens the muscles around the knee, the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscle, which support the knee joint. All of this can take some of the pressure or weight off the joint itself, thereby reducing wear and tear.

 

Now, all that said, research indicates that genetics is the greatest predictor of knee osteoarthritis, so you should know your family history. Also, pre-existing knee issues, like old injuries or prior surgeries, could aggravate certain conditions. But, given a clean bill of health from your physician, running will not in and of itself wear out your knees.

 

In my opinion, stable moderation is the key.  If we overdo anything it could be harmful.  Especially in American society, we overindulge and go on crash-course diets all the time.  A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and lean meats is best.  When exercise is concerned, a little goes a long way and in time your body will be able to do more than what you anticipated.

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10 Bad Running Habits…and How to Break Them

bad-habitsNow that you’re on the path to being a runner, it’s important to note a few things.  Like any sport out there, it’s easy to fall into bad habits.  It is key to identify these early so you can make the most out of your running program.  Here are 10 bad habits and how to break them:

1.      Running too much too soon.  You may be feeling great and want to conquer the world but only increase your mileage by about 10% each week.

2.      Refueling badly.  After a run you might be ravenous.  Take it easy and grab a high carb snack and some water.  Wait about an hour or so and grab a meal with carbs and protein to build muscle.

3.      Skipping SPF.  About 20 minutes of sun a day is healthy but you need sunscreen on long runs.

4.      Ignoring your core.  Core workouts help in all levels of sport.  You can’t lift more, or more importantly, run faster, if you don’t work out your core.  Try these core workouts four times a week.

5.      Starting a race too fast.  Studies show that holding off in the start of a race gives you more energy and fuel to finish stronger.

6.      Being your own doctor.  Runners tend to be hyper-aware of their bodies.  However, if a pain has lingered for more than 3-4 days, you may want to see a doctor.  Ice, rest and Tylenol will not fix everything.

7.      Skipping stretching.  It’s definitely not okay to skip stretching.  You need to loosen and warm up your muscles before you take off.

8.      Not getting enough sleep.  There are thousands of sleep studies out there but use common sense.  If you are going to a race or a long run, you need to rest your body and your mind first.

9.      Never resting.  This can lead to over-training, injury and loss of motivation.  You should have a few easy days each week, some cross-training and 1 solid day of rest.

10.   Trying to fix it all.  There’s a lot of advice out there on being a runner.  Focus on what’s manageable and try not to stress yourself out.

A Personal Note About My Running…

LT100Many people ask me why I run, how I stay so dedicated and why I run so much.  Well, I started running a lot in the US Army but never really liked it.  It was always very structured, the same routes and typically, the slowest people set the pace.  As I began to train in other Army schools like Officer Candidate School (OCS), I was able to run different places, different paces and with much faster people.  The competitive drive in me kicked in and I did as the fast people do-run more, eat right and never quit.

 

As an Officer, I tried out for the Fort Hood Army 10-Miler Team.  I made the team and went to Washington DC to compete in the National 10-Miler.  The first time I ran it in 60:03.  I remained on the team for a number of years and my best 10-miler time was 52:35.  It was then that I had the desire to run even farther.

 

My best friend in the US Army was Matt.  He was a Captain like me and ran with me on the weekends.  Our farthest run was 29 miles.  We heard about this very elite race in Colorado called The Leadville Trail 100.  That’s right…100 miles of running!  The race starts at 4 in the morning and you have 30 hours to complete it.  Matt and I started training for it and set our sights to run that race.  In order to register for it, you must first complete a qualifying race.  The Austin Rattler meets those requirements.  It is 41.01 miles long.

 

During my third and last deployment to Iraq, Matt was KIA by a rocket attack on the camp.  I met his parents at the memorial and keep in touch with his dad to this very day.  That was 5 years ago but I will never forget Matt.  I have decided to honor him by pursuing our goal of running The Leadville Trail 100.  I developed a running training plan, consult running experts and stay away from soft drinks, sugar and fast food of any kind.  Presently, I am up to running over 40 miles per week and I feel great.  My wife thinks I’m crazy but she knows I am serious.

 

My message to you is this:  no matter what your motivation, get out and do something. Enjoy the journey!