/ Should I give up running?

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Jonathan - on 25 Aug 2013
I started running about 4 years ago, because I wanted to do events like the OMM, as well as fell running and possibly the Bob Graham. I really enjoy fell running and would like to continue with it. As far as road/trail running goes I can take it or leave it.

My problem is in that 4 years I have already had two 6-10 month breaks from running due to injuries to my right knee. The leg is a bit dodgy already from an achilles operation I had about 10 years ago. Today I have sustained another injury to the same knee (outside of knee, ITB I think) while running on flat trails. In the past I've found that fell running seems to cause less injuries, but I'm in Melbourne until December and there are no fells here. I feel like every time I get up to running a decent distance, I get another injury. It's highly frustrating because it's never my muscles or breathing that limits my running, it's always my knees.

I'll go to the physio this week, but obviously I've tried physio, podiatrist etc before and I'm still getting injured. My question is, has anyone else had similar experiences with running injuries and managed to get over them and run injury free for long periods? Or are some people just unsuited to distance running and likely to get injury after injury? Any advice/experiences appreciated.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan:

Its almost impossible to answer this as only you know your own body. I have been running for the best part of 30ys with no major injuries but some long term "niggles". When does a "niggle" become a problem? Only you know.

That said., I don't think I'd give up, I'd just adjust.
Marek - on 25 Aug 2013
I was in a similar position a few years back. Now back running via a couple of factors: (a) I avoid running too much, by alternating with cycling (road & mtb). That way I stay aerobically fit, but the legs/back don't get hammered too much. I started off by avoiding running on consecutive days, now I run 2 days in a row max. (b) I work hard on preventing injuries recurring. In my case it was mainly to do with the back. Doctor & physio diagnosed it due to excessive lower spine curvature (probably due to too much running with poor core strength). I have worked on that over the last few years (~4 days per week typically). Overall the plan seems to be working.

Obviously whether such an approach would work for you I don't know, but the principles of 'mixing it up' and working actively to avoid injuries (as opposed to fixing them when they happen) may be worth trying. It's not a quick fix, but long term worth it if you love running. Things like ITB are definitely avoidable. Good luck.
Jonathan - on 25 Aug 2013
Thanks both. I do quite a bit of cycling as well, and that doesn't seem to cause anywhere near as many problems as running. I guess I'm just frustrated because I feel like I've tried everything (foam roller, leg strength exercises, altering running form and posture etc), yet I'm still getting injured. Good to hear people have managed to find a solution though.
tony on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan:

You might find it instructive to go a bit further afield than a physio. I'm going through something similar, but with my left calf, rather than my knees. I've done much as you've done - physio, podiatrist, foam roller, massage and so on, and things gets fixed up to a point and then it goes wrong again.

Last week I went to a sport doctor, who has suggested that the real problem is not with my calf but with my pelvis, which is misaligned, and this is causing uneven distribution of forces through my legs. So, there's a course of treatment to be undergone to realign the pelvis. The jury is still out - I haven't had the treatment, so I don't know if it's actually going to sort things out - but I'm certainly willing to believe that the root of the problems lies somewhere other than where the pain is.

If you can find a decent sports doctor, you might find it a useful exercise. It might be a bit more expensive than a trip to a physio or massage therapist, but as a running friend of mine pointed out, it's less than we'd spend on a pair of running shoes.
nw - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan: High mileage running is a war of attrition with your body. Some of us can handle it better than others but don't be surprised if it causes you problems. There are plenty of other ways of getting your fix.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to nw:
> (In reply to Jonathan) High mileage running is a war of attrition with your body. Some of us can handle it better than others but don't be surprised if it causes you problems. There are plenty of other ways of getting your fix.

This.

So you need to be able to recognise the difference between an injury and normal aches and pains. Please note that I'm not suggestion you don't know the difference but I have found that many new runners stop at the first sign of ANY discomfort. Its a tough one because it is quite subjective.

When I first started running I was training to join the army. I started to get pain on the outside of my knees and went to see the doctor who promptly told me to stop running. I ignored him, changed the way i was running (oddly I found that it was linked to the camber on the road so if I swapped sides it fixed the problem) and went on to do basic training, P company and then 9 yrs of running in boots with a heavy pack to no ill effect.

BUT, I'm very light and built for running. Many of my old army mates have knees that are f**ked.
Eric9Points - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan:
re the comments about posture being at the root of your troubles. Have you looked at the soles of your shoes and if so is one worn differently to the other. I think you said you'd seen a podiatrist but it might give you a clue.
lost1977 - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to tony:

pelvis is often a cause of problems in other areas, out of interest have you ever had any issues with your shoulders ?
Shani - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan: I'm surprised by some of the responses above.Your body has to last you a lifetime and pain is your body's way of telling you there is a problem. Persisting with an injury in a highly complex joint such as the knee is not something I' d recommend. Perhaps you should consider the liklihood of where you'll be 5-10 years down the line from here.

I'd recommend you rest and get advice from a suitable specialist. Then focus on some strength training. Get out and walk in the hills wearingminimal soles and do some short sprint (building up slowly), on grass, focusing on technique. But if you feel pain then stop doing whatever is causing the pain!
Nick Russell on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan:

I used to have knee pain running, don't any more. Several things changed at around the time it went away: minimal shoes/forefoot technique (apparently less force through the knee), started climbing (strengthens the joint without impact) and started swimming less breaststroke (it's just plain bad for the knees). Can't say what solved the problem, but that's not what you were asking for anyway...

Problem is, now I feel like I'm in a similar position to what you describe, but with everything other than the knees. It's just this summer really, but I've been trying to increase the mileage and been met with a couple of bouts of shin pain and now a sore Achilles tendon. I haven't been able to run enough to feel like the muscular endurance or aerobic fitness is holding me back for ages! I'm going to keep at it, rest when required and try to increase the load even more slowly next time (take 4, I think). If you enjoy running, you'll find a way :)

I'll add my voice to the "don't run through knee pain" camp. Some kinds of pain are fine, but not the knees.
redscotti - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to Nick Russell: Your age and past activity is relevant....
Morgan Woods - on 25 Aug 2013
In reply to tony:
> (In reply to Jonathan)
>
> You might find it instructive to go a bit further afield than a physio. I'm going through something similar, but with my left calf, rather than my knees. I've done much as you've done - physio, podiatrist, foam roller, massage and so on, and things gets fixed up to a point and then it goes wrong again.
>
> Last week I went to a sport doctor, who has suggested that the real problem is not with my calf but with my pelvis, which is misaligned, and this is causing uneven distribution of forces through my legs. So, there's a course of treatment to be undergone to realign the pelvis. The jury is still out - I haven't had the treatment, so I don't know if it's actually going to sort things out - but I'm certainly willing to believe that the root of the problems lies somewhere other than where the pain is.


I had a friend with a similar experience. Couldn't run for two years then went to a posture specialist recently who helped sort out some issues with her hip and is running again.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to Shani:
> (In reply to Jonathan) I'm surprised by some of the responses above.Your body has to last you a lifetime and pain is your body's way of telling you there is a problem. Persisting with an injury in a highly complex joint such as the knee is not something I' d recommend. Perhaps you should consider the liklihood of where you'll be 5-10 years down the line from here.

See, I've re-read all of the previous posts and can't find a single one that suggests that he ignore pain or persist with an injury.

wbo - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan: This is a very complex question and not helped by the fact you have given us so little information to go on - mileage, types of injuries and so on.
I have been to Melbourne and there is a good running scene there and also some good sports doctors and people who can work with you to find out exactly what is going on. I would go this route - changing one simple thing can make a huge difference. I would also become rather cynical - not all sports podiatrists are at all equal.
For a start how much do you weigh, how tall, 10k pb, how many miles, what shoes
Bergvagabunden - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan: Sorry , did you say how old you are ? I'm 46 , been running as part of my training for a London time - my major problem is right Achilles and knee , but a regular visit to a McTimmony Chiropractor sorts me out , it's all to do with my back/pelvis .

However , ten years ago , I had no problems , and consequently could run further for longer , now I have to adjust because of my age , but , there's no reason to give it up , just adapt !
Bergvagabunden - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to Bergvagabunden: sorry , as part of my training for a LONG time...
tony on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to lost1977:
> (In reply to tony)
>
> pelvis is often a cause of problems in other areas, out of interest have you ever had any issues with your shoulders ?

No, but I don't do much upper-body stuff, so the fact that I don't notice any shoulder problems doesn't mean there aren't underlying issues.
HAJ - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan:

Another angle on this. Don't concentrate on mileage but quality training runs. Not sure what you do now of course. I trained for a 50 miler almost exclusively on lunch time running (10km) and track sessions, with the cycle commute thrown in. Got a PB way beyond my previous years of longer mileage and without the niggles. Changed the way I think about training now.
Jonathan - on 26 Aug 2013
Thanks all. I am booked in to see a sports physio tomorrow, one that also does sports rehab so I will see if they can identify the root cause of my problems (be it posture or whatever) and do something about it. In answer to a couple of questions I'm 28, 6'0", 71kg and running about 20km a week in one or two generally low pace sessions (would love to do more, but keep getting injured!). My shoes are wearing evenly (neutral stability type shoes with orthotics). I've had a couple of good runners look at my form and they thought it looked ok, but maybe I need to see a professional running coach or something. It's great to hear that some of you have managed to overcome repeated injury, hopefully there is a solution for me too.
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Jonathan - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to wbo: Sorry type of injuries -1st one was ITB friction, 2nd was pain on the inside of my knee on impact (even low impact like walking, cant quite remember the diagnosis), now I think I have an ITB problem again. I have tried to recognise niggles vs injuries, but yesterday I couldnt even walk home and had to be picked up in the car... (feels much better today though).

In terms of pb's I couldn't tell you as I have concentrated on doing long slow runs, gradually building up time (not distance) trying to increase endurance, perhaps this is a factor, though I do short runs as well, just very rarely try to run at 'race pace'.
Irk the Purist - on 26 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan: You are describing me 5 years ago. You can get obsessed with the mechanisms of injury but in my case it was caused by going too fast and too far too quickly. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. But in my case I persisted and followed a plan with MAXIMUM distances and speeds building up the mileage slowly. After 3 years of ITB problems I finally cracked it and now run injury free. I have an 85min half to my name and I did the Lakeland 100 last year. HTH
IainRUK - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan: Becareful with slow running...

It causes an unnatural gait.. and many believe that IT issues actually arise during such a gait.

Steady running is good.. but make sure its still your normal natural gait.. stride length etc..

As a rough guide 1 minute off half marathon pace should be fine.. maybe even a bit more..
Jonathan - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to IainRUK: Thanks, something to think about there.

In reply to others: Saw a really good physio today. A couple of biomechanical issues arising from my previous right achilles operation were identified. Got exercises to improve calf strength and speed and going back next week. Long term she says she is fairly sure she can get me running 4x per week up to 10km each, but long distances are an unknown at the moment until we see what the limits of my right calf are. Fair enough I think, so I'm going to give it a go and see where my limits are over the next few months.

Thanks all for your replies.

Jim Hamilton - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Jonathan:
> Saw a really good physio today. Long term she says she is fairly sure she can get me running

sounds expensive ! I agree with posters who suggest mixing with or even changing to other sports - walking, cycling, swimming, surfing ? etc

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