I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2002. Prior to that, I had trained multiple times for a marathon and after a few months of training had to stop running due to painful chronic injuries – usually my knees produced a bright white pain just beneath the kneecap, my hips felt a dull burning sensation, and plantar fasciitis was setting into the heels and arches of my feet. I attempted to treat these conditions in isolation without success, until I found something that has proven to be a long-term solution.
Over the past 16 years I’ve been able to keep up with running and avoid chronic injuries altogether, despite my body being prone to injury (as demonstrated prior to 2002). The key for me has been the run/walk method, to which I was introduced through the book from Jeff Galloway. Without going into detail, the method suggests in order to gradually build your way to running longer distances, take walking breaks during your runs. This may slow your pace slightly (but only slightly because you’re still walking briskly while not running), however your cardio system gets virtually ALL the benefit as if you ran continuously. More importantly, during those walking breaks your musculo-skeletal system gets a break because you’re using very different muscles and tendons to walk instead of run. The parts that were under stress while running are relaxed while walking. It’s like you stretch them taut as a rubber band while running, and then walking releases the strain.
After practicing with this for a few weeks, I settled on a cadence of 7/1: run for 7 minutes followed by walk for 1 minute, then repeat. Since adopting this practice, I have never suffered a chronic running injury and I’ve been able to stay out on the trails. Amazing!
After 2002, I continued with semi-long distance running, doing several team events like the Flaming Foliage Relay and Ragnar Relays. I’ve never had goals around speed or personal records or competitive running, I just enjoyed being outside and wanted to keep doing it. That meant avoiding injury, so this run/walk mentality was perfect for me. In 2015 I completed the Dirty 30 and Imogene Pass runs, two iconic long-distance trail runs in Colorado. You can still find me out on the trails today several times each week, especially now that I’ve discovered Zero Drop shoes!
I am immeasurably grateful to whomever it was that introduced me to the Galloway book (can’t remember who it was, only that I got my hands on this in grad school). However this got into my radar, it has made an immense positive impact on my long-term quality of life.