Achy knees, stiff lower back, sore calves, all for that runners high and accelerated heart rate.
I regret to say I’m injury prone when it comes to musculoskeletal issues. I tore my ACL in my left knee and required reconstructive surgery over 11 years ago, since then I decided running was not for me and I found other ways to work on my cardiorespiratory endurance. I’ve had a 20 degree curve in my lower spine (aka scoliosis) since I was 10 years old and this has taken my body out of balance in so many ways and was probably a contributor to my ACL injury.
Nevertheless, I’ve always sought physical fitness and that’s how I ended up at a CrossFit gym over a year ago. On my first day, our very first warmup was a 400M run, within that first run I felt my left calf getting sore and irritated. I continued on with the workout that day and over the next few days it progressively got worse and I had to already take a break from running until it got better about 6 weeks later. I got back to running very slowly, just a few hundred meters at a time.
Slowly I began to incorporate running into my exercise plans. A few months passed and then I took a PE class where we ran on a lovely cushiony track around the football field on Thursdays. That first Thursday ignited my love for running. After 45 minutes of intervals, the class was over and as everyone was leaving I asked the teacher if I could stay and run. I stayed and ran for 20 minutes around that track and experienced my first true runners high. My body felt so fluid moving through the motions, it felt like flying!
Since then, I’ve been running 2-3 times a week on a treadmill, usually for about 25 minutes. I’ve been getting so much better at long endurance runs, which I prefer over sprints just because I can be safer in my movements (I’m still new at this). During my runs I feel amazing for the most part, but sometimes I can feel some aches happening in my knees, ankles or calves. Whenever I get off the treadmill, my back feels so stiff and rigid and my legs are begging for a stretch, which I never skip.
I know that running can be strenuous on the body. The repetitive strikes against the ground can have a negative impact on the joints and muscles, especially if you’re not practicing safe alignment. The high impact movements can wear us down, especially in my case with scoliosis and an old sports injury. But that feeling I get when I’m at 85-90% MHR is all worth it. Heart pounding, absolutely drenched in sweat, kinda feeling like you’re dying, but realizing you’re living in the ultimate bodily experience – I’m so down. I’ll keep my ice packs, foam roller and heating pad ready cause I’m not gonna stop.