Welcome to the first edition of Chick Named Chuck’s You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?
When I talk to non-runners or former-runners about my running endeavors, I almost always get some form of the following:
“Aren’t you worried that all that running will ruin your knees?”
I take a deep breath and smile and breeze by the question, sharing that I’ve never had any issues with my knees (knock on wood… the day that I have any kind of twinge in my knee(s) is the day I disappear Into the Wild like Christopher McCandless. I’m just kidding, mom).
In my head, I get pretty snarky with the Running-Ruins-Your-Knees Believers, thinking: My knees are fine, but I do struggle with runner’s highs, lower stress, and improved physical and mental health. It’s brutal. And I would definitely encourage everyone to stay far, far away from my beloved sport of running.
Mark Remy is a 21-time marathoner with a personal best of 2:46 (that’s fast!) and his knees (miraculously!) have not disintegrated after 20 years of running. He’s an executive editor and writer over at RunnersWorld.com and blogged:
“I don’t know exactly when or where it started, but for a pretty wide swath of the population, “Running Ruins Your Knees” is less a belief and more a mantra or a slogan — something that’s been intoned and invoked so reflexively, so often, and handed down through so many generations, it’s taken on the aura of eternal truth, of gospel. Never mind that it isn’t, you know, true.”
- “Recreational running doesn’t increase the risk of arthritis,”
- AND “increases production of certain proteins in the cartilage that make it stronger.” Meaning, running actually strengthens joints!
Case in point: My Dad.
A million years ago (back in the 70s), my dad was a runner for his high school cross country team. He ran and ran and ran and was a badass and all that my-dad-is-my-hero-mushy-gushy stuff. In his 30s, he started having some arthritis pain in his knees (cue the gasps of horror… Running ruined his knees!). In my opinion, the real horror is that he gave up running — that’s the stuff my nightmares are made of… Anyhow, he was still my hero, working out on the Nordic Track ski machine in our basement and cranking out workouts on various other low-impact machines at the YMCA.
In 2007, I accidentally fell in love with running and dragged him back over to the dark-side. We’ve run a handful of races together, ranging from 5K to marathon! Here we are, crossing the finish line of the Dayton Half Marathon in 2010:
And his knees? Well, get this: he’s currently training like a maniac for the LA Marathon next month. He’s running three times per week following the FIRST training program, including a speed workout, tempo run, and long run, and he’s completed three 20 mile long runs in the past five weeks. Yesterday, my dad excitedly talked my ear off about how well his training is going, then said: “The more I run, the better my knees feel!“
The next time someone tells me running will ruin my knees, I’m giving them my dad’s phone number.