Workout Weary?

Fitness, News and Advice
on February 16, 2011

DEAR FFG: Every time I try to start running I get injured. I’ve had shin splints, tendonitis, hip pain, etc. My physical therapist says either I’m not stretching enough or my legs are too weak. But even when I do everything right, I end up hurt. I feel like my body is really letting me down. I still need to lose about 20 lbs, and at this rate, I feel like I’m “stuck” at this weight forever because of all these injuries. Help! — Jan

DEAR JAN: It’s no fun to sit on the sidelines when you’d rather be in the game. I have had many injuries, too, over the course of my running career, including knee surgery back before I started running marathons. You are doing the right thing as far as getting evaluated by a physical therapist, but sometimes (as you’ve suggested) they don’t have all the answers. Running is a tough sport because of all the pounding, and some people have biomechanical problems that make it very difficult to run injury-free. You seem to have done all the right things — added stretching and strength-training, increased your mileage slowly, etc. If you are confident that you’re getting the best advice from your physical therapist, you may have to consider that you may just not be cut out for long-distance running. I hate saying that, but here’s the thing: If you’re committed to losing weight, exercise is key–but running is not. There is a whole world of other activities out there. I suggest exploring other low or no-impact activities you can do that won’t make your shin splints worse. You may find something you love just as much as (or more than!) running. Or you may need to keep your weekly mileage below a certain distance to run injury-free, and supplement running with swimming, cycling, kickboxing — all things I have done and loved over the years. Yes, running is my staple and I love it, but I also know that a sprained ankle or nasty fall could knock me off my program. It’s good to have a Plan B activity — or two — just in case.