After taking a couple years off due to runners knee, and “restarting” running at 34 (seven years after my first start), I’ve noticed some things are different. (And I haven’t even had kids, I’m sure that adds an additional layer of change.) If you want to find out how to prevent running injuries like runners knee, and keep running pain-free, especially as you get older, there are a few new habits you can take on.
When I was in physical therapy a couple years ago, my therapist, who was himself a runner and a few years older than me, told me that the older you get, the ratio of “time spent running” to “time spent doing everything else just so you can run” will shift. As in, you’ll spend less time running, and more time stretching, foam rolling, ice bathing, getting massages, etc, just to run the same mileage.
He wasn’t lying. This is how I’ve dealt with it:
Prevent running injuries by taking up yoga to keep muscles loose
For me, it’s so much easier to go to class 1-2 times per week and be forced to stretch for an hour than to try to find the time to do it on my own throughout the week. But I still try to find time to stretch throughout the week.
Bonus: You’ll get all bendy and can strike a cool pose 103 floors above the city.
Prevent running injuries through strength training to fix muscle imbalances
Strong glutes (and a strong core) are the key to preventing so many runner pains and injuries that seem to pop up out of nowhere even if you’ve been able to run pain-free for years. You can train yourself, or, if you need external motivation, sign up for classes or hire a personal trainer. Weight lifting, CrossFit, barre, pilates, and pilates reformer or megaformer classes are all good options.
Bonus – even if you are targeting your core and glutes, your arms will still get a workout and you’ll have quite the gun show happening.
And, plug – A ClassPass membership is an easy (and affordable) way to access various fitness studios across your city, including yoga, Pilates, barre, megaformer, weight lifting and CrossFit. Plans start at $40/month.
Prevent running injuries by foam rolling to alleviate tight muscles
Foam roll daily or at least as often as you run. I like the Trigger Point roller. I also like using The Stick to supplement my rolling, especially on my calves and bottoms of my feet. Additionally, a good massage can do wonders. If you’re in Chicago, I recommend Leo at L&A Healing Studio in the South Loop. The space feels very calming and new age, but he is not afraid to get rough with all your knots and tightness. Plus he has tons of knowledge on how to treat your body.
Bonus – your body will feel good and hopefully, you’ll be relaxed.
Check your ego and accept your current performance
After dealing with runners knee (seemingly out of nowhere), I’m just happy to be running pain-free, period. I don’t care what my pace is these days or if I have to take walk breaks. But, I know what my pace used to be. And it was fun to set PRs. So now I like to think this is my Running 2.0, so I have a clean slate to chase PRs 2.0.
Bonus – stopping to catch your breath means a chance to take a run selfie.
How has your running changed as you’ve gotten older?