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I've done plenty of high intensity sports training (kickboxing, circuit trainings etc) but never running. This fall I was bitten by the running bug. I started doing around 10km runs once or twice a week. Then I got my Icebugs and did few 14km runs on snow.

Now both ankles are inflammed. My ortopedic put me on pain meds and no running for two weeks and then to start easier. Here's the problem. What's easier? As I said I'm pretty fit so my ankles apparently break a lot before my fitness gives in. So how should I progress my runs now when I return to running?

Edit:

I run with short steps and mainly forefoot landing as I think this should be best for my ankles/knees? I don't pronate/supinate. According to ankle x-rays there's nothing wrong with my ankle structurally.

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migrated from sports.stackexchange.com Jan 28 '13 at 17:17

This question came from our site for participants in team and individual sport activities.

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Have you considered sprints or dramatically reduced volume (~1km at first) on the runs, ramping up slowly to 10km runs again? Something like Couch to 5k for someone fit. –  Dave Liepmann Jan 28 '13 at 17:44
    
That is probably something along the lines I should do. Frustrating but getting my ankles hurting again would be much more frustrating. –  vertti Jan 28 '13 at 18:47
    
Are you wearing shoes with higher cushioning heels? –  Alex Jan 29 '13 at 3:13
    
@Alex I don't really know. I'm running on Inov-8 Oroc 340. I don't think their heel is that much cushioned. Why? –  vertti Jan 29 '13 at 5:03
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Running on higher heels is more difficult on your ankles. Not as challenging as skating, of course, but still not as easy as running on thin flat soles. –  Alex Jan 31 '13 at 1:38
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5 Answers 5

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To answer your question "what's easier", cross training to start. There are several different ways to start cross training. Pool running running in the deep end of the pool where you cannot touch the bottom will take the impact off your ankles. This works several of the same motions and muscles that you will need to stay in running shape.

This link offers instructions, tempo workouts, and explains the benefits to pool running.

http://www.runaddicts.net/tips-tricks/the-top-3-cross-training-exercises-for-runners

Due to the temperature of the water, I found it harder to get my heart rate up, so I included cycling, yoga, & weights as permitted by my doctors & trainers. Competitor continues to elaborate on the different options for cross training (cycling, swimming, etc).

http://running.competitor.com/2012/08/training/four-ways-to-cross-train_56243

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Great ideas, thanks! –  vertti Jan 28 '13 at 16:23
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Just a guess, but I would say that your ankle problems are caused by a combination of your shoes and your stride. When you run, do you land on your heel, midfoot or forefoot? Did you choose a pair of shoes appropriate for your stride and your pronation? It is probably worth going to a specialty running store, if they have them in your area, and have them help you choose the correct shoe.

If you don't have access to a store like that, you can take the 'wet test' to determine your foot type and look at the wear patterns on your current shoes to provide additional insight to the type of shoe that's going to serve you best.

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I try to land on my forefoot and midfoot with a short stride (the icy tracks are helping that). I went to running store and they checked that I don't pronate/supinate. I'm sure there is work to do still with my stride as I'm just starting, but short steps with mainly forefoot landing is best for the ankle as far as I know and my shoes should be good so I still need a better training plan or other ideas. –  vertti Jan 28 '13 at 6:41
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People who are fit can easily get hurt by applying that fitness to an activity that they're not used to. Their strength and conditioning engine is able to handle the workload, but their mobility and joints may not. In these cases you need something like Couch to 5k for the fit: a ramp-up program that challenges you while not overstepping the capabilities of your bones, ligaments, and tendons.

I'd try dramatically reduced running volume--something like ~1km at first--before ramping back up slowly, perhaps adding a kilometer every third run, to 10km. Sprints, if they don't aggravate the issue more, could be used to increase the intensity without adding problematic volume.

I would also consider the possibility that you could develop a tougher constitution through strength training. Weight-bearing exercise is great for bones and ligaments when done in a progressive manner. Deadlifts, power cleans, and squats come highly recommended for runners.

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I have been running for quite a while already, and completed 20 marathons and ultras without injuries.

Yet I would say that running on deep snow is not quite easy on my ankles. I do it, but slowly and carefully, and for the purpose of strengthening my legs.

It might help you if you run mostly on harder surfaces for a while. Also are you running on flat surfaces or hills? If you can, diversify your running, including uphill, downhill, and around the hill, both clockwise and counterclockwise, so that you use different muscle groups.

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That's interesting to hear. I know snow/ice takes a toll on my ankles but it might have just been what broke the camel's neck or how ever that saying goes. –  vertti Jan 31 '13 at 16:03
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I'm not surprised that you have inflamed ankles. You are stating that you went from not running at all, to running 6 miles once or twice a week. That's a big chunk to just go out and start running.

Like anything else, you need to work into it. Make sure that you have shoes that are appropriate for your stride and foot landing pattern, and change them out on a regular basis. I run in more minimalist shoes (Less padding), and I get around 3-400 miles out of a single pair.

Start with maybe 10 minute runs 3-5 times a week, and gradually (no more than 5-10% at most) increase every couple of weeks. You can also look into the Galloway run/walk system, where you do a combination of running and walking, or else I like a program called 3:2:1. Basically, you do 3 short runs, two medium and one long. Each one is double the previous run.

So, if your short run is 10 minutes, then your medium run is 20, and your long run is 30. I would start with 7, 14 and 21 initially, and bump it up from there. The benefits from running are great, but you need to work your way up to the longer runs.

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Due to the pain I still feel in my ankles I'm guessing you are right. Still, 10-20minute runs sound really frustrating. Doing sprints on those might make them more motivating but I'll need to see if sprints do extra aggravating of my ankles or not. –  vertti Jan 31 '13 at 5:43
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@vertti - Might be frustrating, but better than the alternatives. But yes, by all means, go out and sprint and hammer as hard as you can on your injury, let us know how that works for you. Running is a strenuous, high impact activity, taking the buildup slow and steady really is the best way. A couple of 20 second sprints aren't going to do a lot for your fitness, but they can do a lot for furthering injury problems. –  JohnP Jan 31 '13 at 14:39
    
I smell sarcasm :D But you are correct. I'll take a really slow return to running and try to combine some cycling and swimming to the mix. –  vertti Jan 31 '13 at 16:01
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