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Old 05-24-2012, 11:56 AM   #1
Jon D'Arpino
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New to Cross Fit - Running Question

I just started Cross Fit (my second class was Wed. 5/23) and I like the workouts although they are definitely challenging and I'm not even doing the regular workouts yet. I'm still working out with an intro group.

I'm older (52) than most people at the Box where I work out. Although I'm active and not overweight (although on the big size 6' 2" 210 lbs.), I haven't been working out for 4-5 months. The age thing doesn't necessarily bother me, but my question/concern is with the running aspect of the workouts. I used to run a lot and have run many road races over the years, but three years ago that all came to an end after a torn meniscus in my knee. Much to my disappointment, my doctor advised me to stop running. So, after three years of not running more than a few hundred yards at a time, I'm finding that it's tough to handle the pains of starting up again.

So far, it's only been short distance (400m at a time), but I feel like I strained (or possibly pulled) a calf muscle last night and I'm concerned about how my legs will hold up with increased distance and more challenging workouts. I've done enough running in the past to know the difference between an ache from working hard and a sign of a pull or minor tear. This could simply be the results of not enough physical activity over the past few months and something I just need to work through, but I don't want to screw myself up and compromise my ability to work out.

Anybody have any thoughts or advice?

Thank you.

- Jon D.
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:31 PM   #2
Joe C Thomas
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

First off, welcome. Secondly, I am by no means an expert nor a doctor. So, I'll start this by saying if it is preventing you from completing daily activities, see your doctor.

Ok, I spent 5 years jumping out of planes and rucking in combat boots in the Army, so my knees and ankles were not happy to begin with. Then I tore my ACL/MCL/meniscus a couple of years ago and thought I was done running, basketball, etc.

I had a lot of pain as I started back. Three things helped me immensely.

1. Strength training - particularly posterior chain. I was so imbalanced that my knees were constantly working to stabilize.

2. MWOD - Like most active males, my flexibility was horrible! I also learned that the knee is supposed to be a stable joint, and the ankle is supposed to be a mobile one. So thanks to every trainer for making me tape my ankles before every game!

3. Barefoot Running - More to the point, running form. If you are a heel striker (like most people) that is the number one cause for your joint pain. The impact of a heel strike is so jarring, it's no wonder your joints hurt. Big cushiony running shoes make it worse, because they allow you to slam down without feeling it in your heel. That shock goes up your leg and hits you in the knees, hips and back. Running barefoot forces you into correct form because you can't heel strike (at least not more than once!). That pain is your indicator you are making a mistake and you fix it, if there is no pain then you keep pounding and you don't know you have a problem till later.

Those three things changed everything for me. I'm now running just as fast, more comfortably, and more often than I did when I was in the Army.

Good luck!
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:47 PM   #3
Jon D'Arpino
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

Joe,

Thanks for your input/advice. I suspect that a lot of those nagging, recurring type of injuries that I used to get when I ran regularly were due to flexibility and imbalance of strength issues.

After icing last night and stretching today, my calf feels much better and I'm hopeful that with additional workouts, diligent stretching (all the more important for someone my age), I will be able to run without constant worry about inury in the near future.

Regards,

Jon D.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:14 PM   #4
Dustin Wintczak
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

Even if the mobility, strength and flexibilty work doesn't improve the problem there are other optoins. Also the bright side is, with CF WOD's the distance doesn't or shouldn't increase by much more. You really shouldn't be running much farther than a mile during a workout but that could vary with your programming.

The other option, which may be easier on your legs (easier from an impact standpoint) is just to substitute rowing when running is required. You're coach should be ok with this. In general and depending on the workout the rough equivlant is about 500m rowing per 400m ran but you can adjust as needed.

Last edited by Dustin Wintczak; 05-24-2012 at 03:17 PM..
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Old 05-24-2012, 06:55 PM   #5
Jon D'Arpino
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

Dustin,

Good points. The coaches did say in the beginning that if anyone had helath/injury issues, then another activity could be subsituted.

Still, it's a little depressing to pull a muscle running a couple of 400m circuits when I used to race at distances up to 20K. Well, the past is the past and I'm trying to focus on what I can do now. If I need to sub rowing for running then I certainly will in order to stay with Cross Fit. It's kicking my butt, but I like the challenge.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:59 AM   #6
Diane Curtiss
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

I am 55 and have a similar problem in that running just does not appear to agree with me. I ended up out for a week with bad SI joint issues that got worse over time. I know it is most likely technique, and that I am just "running wrong", but until I can get the time for someone to work with me, I am not running - do not want a repeat of that SI flare-up!

As others said, there are a lot of substitutes if you talk with your coach. Depending on the workout, I've had a wide range of substitutes from rowing, kettlebell swings, and even air squats. There is always something that can be subbed for the running.

Good luck!
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Old 05-25-2012, 06:19 AM   #7
Jon D'Arpino
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

Thanks Diane.
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Old 05-26-2012, 08:02 AM   #8
Brendan McNamar
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

Hopefully over time you can improve your running form, increase the strength around the joint and generally increase you running capacity.

In the short run keep run volume to a minimum. Rowing as a substitution works great. 400m run = 500m row. So if a WOD calls for 5 rounds with 400m runs you can row 500m on rounds 1-3-5 and run 2-4. You get the idea.

There is no benefit to beating up your knees when there is a good substitution.
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Old 06-02-2012, 01:12 PM   #9
Mike.Phillips
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

There is nothing wrong with scaling the runs. Cut the distance in half, cut the pace in half. Nothing wrong with speed walking them either

If you're supposed to run 400m, try walking at a brisk pace for 200m. The goal of Crossfit is to get in shape, not injure yourself. And there is nothing wrong with starting at a slow pace, and building up from there.

You can also try brisk walking for a bit, get your heart rate up and get your blood pumping, THEN attempting a brief light jog.

Everyone at Crossfit comes in with prior injuries / soft spots / challenges that they have to work around and work through. Don't be ashamed of it, just work around it.

If jogging / running is out of the picture, cut the distance in half and power walk. If you feel confident that your legs are ready for the stress of jogging, give it a shot for a brief stint, then reel back to walking and see how you feel.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:19 PM   #10
Amanda S Throm
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Re: New to Cross Fit - Running Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike.Phillips View Post
There is nothing wrong with scaling the runs. Cut the distance in half, cut the pace in half. Nothing wrong with speed walking them either
...
If jogging / running is out of the picture, cut the distance in half and power walk. If you feel confident that your legs are ready for the stress of jogging, give it a shot for a brief stint, then reel back to walking and see how you feel.
Also not a runner-- my knees hate me from Irish Dance. Throwing yourself three feet off the ground then landing on one foot does WONDERS to your ankles and knees, let me tell you.

Anyway-- thanks for posting this! Since I pulled/strained/whatever my calf muscle during the warm up last weekend and it's still hurting before Elements tonight, I think I'll use this advice tonight as we'll have to run 200 meters at the beginning and end of the WOD.
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