In late 2007, I fell really sick. As a result, I spent the next two years or so being unable to eat enough proteins to meet my daily needs and didn't do any physical exercise.

When I recovered, I started training again (mostly bodybuilding and swimming) but I never was able to go back to running like I used to. I simply didn't enough endurance to run, even in intervals. Whenever I ran, however careful and reasonable I was, I always ended up injuring myself to the calf or ankle. I gave rope skipping a try as well, but that was several times worse.

I have been taking regular walks but I'm still a long way from where I used to be, and Canadian winters are terribly cold. Are there exercises I can do to regain my past endurance quicker or must I just keep on walking?


You're question lacks a little bit of detail about what your workouts looked like, but general causes for exercise related lower leg injuries are:

  • Running too fast, puts massive strain of the soft tissue around your shin bone. The only way to cope with this is slowly built up your exercise to allow the tissue to strengthen. Run at a speed that you're still able to speak is a nice rule of thumb for not running too fast.

  • Running on hard surfaces, if you're like me forces to run in the suburbs, your feet hit the pavement hard with each step. This causes the same problem as my previous point, it will just happen faster on hard undergrounds. If you can: go to the woods or a park.

  • Running with bad shoes, while the barefoot running crowd may disagree, running on old or plain wrong shoes is bad. Old shoes have degraded EVA, which has bad or inconsistent cushioning. Using your aerobics or tennis shoes for running is also a bad idea, because while they may look similar, they are really built completely different and often of different material as well. Getting a pair of good running shoes will go a long way of reducing your chances of injury.

If all else fails, you could get a pair of orthotics (don't overpay!) or compression stockings. The first helps reduce movement of your foot in the shoe or make slight corrections to your feet roll off pattern. The latter keeps your calf muscle in place and thereby reduces the stress on the soft tissue a lot.

The last part I can really recommend: get a training plan. I'm sure you've tried one before, but this time get a training plan and cut your goals by 20%. So instead of aiming to run at 10 km/h start out at 8 km/h, instead of trying to run for half an hour, start with 20 minutes. Also, I can really recommend a program like Start to Run or your C25K, this forces you to alternate between walking and jogging for at least the first few weeks. This greatly reduces the total stress on your soft tissue and should give your body time to start adapting.

But remember, even when things start to get better, stick to your plan!

  • I used C25k. What other information could I provide to improve my question? – Borror0 Mar 1 '11 at 21:07
  • Do you have an idea how fast you were running during the jogging intervals? @Borror0 Because I would recommend exactly that program to get going. – Ivo Flipse Mar 1 '11 at 21:11
  • Unfortunately, no. I tried to run at a speed that was sustainable, neither thorough the whole interval rather than burst and one that would get me exhausted quickly. Also, I was never out of breath. It always was my muscles that dragged me down. – Borror0 Mar 1 '11 at 21:23
  • @Borror0 I added a rule of thumb to running too fast: make sure you can still speak (to someone or yourself), you'll be amazed how slow it may feel. – Ivo Flipse Mar 1 '11 at 21:27

Endurance is like anything else, it takes time to build up. Many people find that a program such as a couch to 5k or similar can help get them back training to a more effective level, and I have found that the Galloway run/walk method can also be an effective way to increase endurance safely.

It sounds also like you may have had some muscle catabolism or other damage due to the illness, and that will also take some time to repair and recover. It may be that you simply can't run much yet because you are replacing the lost muscle tissue first.

I highly recommend some sessions, or at least a consultation with a physical therapist, as they may be able to provide better guidance on how to go about getting back to where you were.

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