View Full Version : Marathoners: do you worry about the toll it takes on your body?

03-11-2010, 12:16 AM
I've been contemplating starting to train for a marathon. I've only done one half (back in November) and I feel like I'm fully back in training mode again. I recently broke up with my boyfriend after a rough 2 1/2 years and I feel like a marathon would be a good distraction/goal and it's always been something I've ultimately wanted to do. I know I could do it with the right training (I find the training program in Marathoning for Mortals very helpful). That being said I don't have the best knees in the world and after anything more than 5-6 miles I have to seriously ice my knees, take Tylenol, and even then my knees are super swollen the next day. I've never done anything longer than the 13.1 miles and I'm worried about the toll it may take on my knees. Is there something that helps with knee problems? I definitely don't push it if they start really hurting. Do you worry about the toll running takes on your body? Thanks for any advice or help :flower3:

03-11-2010, 12:27 AM
First, running is a great distraction. My uncle started running when my cousin was born with so many defects she only lived for 4 months (and only lived that long because my aunt is a nurse). His doctor told him to find a healthy way to deal with the stress and he choose running. When you compare it to the standard distractions of alcohol, drugs, and food it was a much better choice.

As for how it will effect my legs down the road, I really don't worry about it. There are people I know in their 70's that still run and some in their 30's that can't. A lot of it is probably genetic or related to an actual injury as opposed to standard wear and tear. The biggest thing I would caution is to add the miles slowly. The most common injury when running is over use and so often that is because we add too many miles to quickly. If you add miles conservatively it may help with some of the pain. When I was starting out I used the 10% rule pretty religiously. I only increased my weekly miles but 10% and also only increased the distance of my longest run by 10%.

Make sure to stretch all of your leg muscles (including your IT band) before running and if you have any problem muscles stretching after running works. There is nothing wrong with a little soreness after a run and when my miles are high I do soak my feet in icy water after a run to help with it and try to treat any issues before they become lingering problems. If you do pull something or twist something make sure to let it heal before going back out. It can be torture to sit there for a week but it beats running once a week for years because you never let the injury properly heal.

All that being said there are people who just have problems with knees, ankles, or any other complex joint. It could be structural, genetic, or a result of an injury you sustained at some point in the past. Hopefully that isn't the case for you.

03-11-2010, 12:37 AM
Thanks for the advice! I'm pretty sure it's genetic as my grandfather and Dad both have had horrible knees and knee replacements. The years of soccer and horse back riding (holding myself up by my knees for hours) doesn't help either but I wasn't concerned about it at the time. I will definitely take it slow and not aim for a marathon until later this year or early next year (I'd rather run in the cooler months anyways).

Running is a great distraction! My running shoes have become my new best friends and I feel so much better than I would eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's, watching Lifetime movies ;).

I guess if I think about the negative aspects of how running may affect my body is a lot smaller than the positive things I get out of it.

03-11-2010, 07:59 AM
Another similar goal that would be lighter on your knees would be a triathlon. From there you could work up to a marathon.

03-11-2010, 08:16 AM
I have not done a full marathon, but I do run regularly and I used to have problematic knees. They don't give me trouble any more, though a few days ago, one of them was acting up - turns out my IT band was tweaked out after my last half marathon - once that got un-knotted, my knee settled down a lot. So check that IT band for tenderness.

I also had good luck with the Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplements. Strengthening my quads, hamstrings and gluteal muscles has really stabilized my knees incredibly.

And I do worry about the toll a marathon would take on my body - I have some back issues as well, and am trying to strengthen and resolve those and build mileage slowly before attempting a full.

Rachel MI
03-12-2010, 12:22 PM
I have run three marathons and will begin training for my fourth in a couple of weeks. I too had problems with my knees, though not as bad as you described. I have found that wearing a knee strap helps a lot. It's adjustable (velcro), about an inch thick, and straps just below the kneecap. I find if I wear these my knees are fine, and if I don't I start to get soreness.

I don't worry about the toll running takes on my body, because I feel the benefits outweigh the risks. When I'm running, I'm at my best- physically, mentally, and emotionally.

03-12-2010, 01:36 PM
I say find what you enjoy and go with it. I do not like marathons because it takes time afterward to recover and get back to fully training. I prefer to run 5K, 10K, and half-marathons frequently as opposed to a full marathon every once in awhile. Everyone is different though, and not everyone takes as long to recover as I do.

The 10K is my favorite distance. Long enough to not be a sprint, but short enough to run hard.

03-12-2010, 02:21 PM
Also I'd say one other thing, I used to be much more sore after running, but I decided to pay a little attention to running technique. Recently I've been running with a shorter stride, more horizontal, softer footfalls, quicker turnaround on the feet, etc. I've seen a nice improvement on my times as well as most importantly I've been much less sore after long runs. You might want to look into one of the running technique clinics to see if you can get some pointers/etc. I dont quite do Chi or Pose running, but I have stolen a few ideas here and there. Not overstriding was probably the best thing for me.

03-12-2010, 02:29 PM
Changing my running technique did help a lot. I was running all wrong. I was taking long strides, moving my upper body too much, etc. I read a book (can't remember what it was now) and I had no idea that I was killing my hips, knees, and ankles by how I was running. It is a lot better now (and I'm sure I still have more to learn) but I will definitely check out the clinics! I love learning anything and everything about health/fitness stuff. My knees haven't been bothering me as much the last few nights but I don't really know what I'm doing differently as I'm running the same pace and distance :confused3.

Thanks everyone for the great ideas and advice! I appreciate it. :goodvibes

03-12-2010, 02:32 PM
I agree. I used to have issues, mainly in the ankle and achilles area. A co-worker of mine who has run for many years lectured me on running technique. Mainly a shorter stride, landing with my feet more under my center of gravity as opposed to out front of my body. This has resulted in me developing more of a mid-foot strike as opposed to a heel strike too. I am now running better than ever with no pain.

I also started incorporating some barefoot running to strengthen my feet and ankles.