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I'm planning to start running again using the C25K plan, but am concerned about knee injuries. (I'm probably 40 lbs overweight.) I have REALLY enjoyed running in the past, but want to be careful. Are my concerns warranted, or am I just worrying too much?
Unless you have a history of specific knee problems I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think running has an inappropriately bad reputation as being a knee killer. In general I'd be careful about not taking too long of strides (severe heel strike can be hard on the knees) and also bend your knees quite a bit. Think of your whole leg as a shock absorber. I've heard it said "Bend your knees........then bend them some more."
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
I wish I saw your thread earlier because we are both in similiar circumstances. Past runners, doing it again, over 40, and overweight.
Anyway, be concerned, but not overly concerned.
I started running again about a month before your post on here (Oct. 2012) and ran into similiar issues, being again, about 40 pounds overweight. I'm 42 years old. And I had knee pain for the first time ever running. Found out that I was wearing the wrong shoes, hoping that I could go the cheap route. Well, had to fork up some money and buy some real shoes for my flat footed overpronating legs. So bought the heavy Brooks Beast which works for me, with another pair of lighter shoes for racing (which I have only worn twice so far) and added alot of cross training until I could take some of that extra weight off. Now it's early March and I went from 216 pounds to 169 pounds with a combination of diet and exercise.
I started off walking and running just on the street, but my knees rebelled, and was getting mild runner's knee. So I decided to joined a gym and began with one or two miles on the treadmill. This was difficult for me because it forced me to admit the lax I did to my body the last 19 years. I used to run a 5k at around a 6 minute per mile pace, and I couldn't even run one mile on a treadmill for a 10 minute per mile pace! But I did a build up training regiment with heavy on cross-training, including elliptical, stationary bike, and stair climbing, and was able to avoid more knee injuries. Now I've built up a "long run" of around 5-7 miles, tempo run of around 4-5 miles, and speed work that goes usually 400-800m intervals to a 3x1 mile to hill work. I'm only now building up to a 4th day of running which I want to do because I want to up my running mileage. I do enjoy spicing it up with cross training for myself, makes things interesting, and don't want to be an "only running" runner. I'm happy with that.
But I am still learning to 'listen to my body' and a few times had to back off and take a few days off because I was pushing too much. One week I went from 15 miles a week to about 23 miles miles a week and my legs just said no and felt like stiff sore sticks; had to take several days off to recoup.
So even though I used to be a runner 19 years ago, I'm making some mistakes, but also am taking advantage of the successes of that experience as well.
P.S. Best advice? Listen to your body, don't ignore the overtraining/too much signs like runners knee, stiff and sore legs, chronic fatigue, etc.
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
Los Angeles Marathon on March of 1994: 3 hr 28 min 9 sec
Run with Santa 5k on 12/22/12: 25 min 19 sec
Mardi Gras 5k on 02/09/13: 24 min 50 sec
Cirque Du Soleil 5k on 03/16/13: 23 min 33 sec
Douglas Green Memorial 5k on 05/18/13: 22 min 47 sec
Correct new shoes for your foot strike type and running on softer surfaces like a dirt trail will help greatly. Add strengthening exercises particularly for the VMO muscles, hamstrings and anterior tibialis to increase knee support. Don't over train, ease into the mileage and rest every other day.
I started running in 2007 at the age of 48 and was about 60 lbs overweight.
I am currently training for my 6th full marathon and have not had any problems with my knees what so ever and I am also close to 60 pounds lighter.
I have no history of knee injuries and no family history of arthritis in the knees.
My family was very worried about me tearing my knees up but their seem to have subsidied over time.
My advice is take your time building up your speed and endurance, eat right and go to a local shoe store that specializes in running shoes and get yourself properly fitted.
Getting Fit at Fifty