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A Decision - Run While You Can

Posted Apr 22 2013 5:00am

With my recent knee surgery I realize that I am indeed getting older and parts beginning to wear out and age. My right knee in particular has put me on notice that with my arthritis and impact from running that in the not so distant future a knee replacement may be needed. I have been advised by both my doctor and family members that lessening the impact from high impact sports like running will possibly delay such a replacement. So a decision needs to be made on what I should do activity wise. I thought I would put in writing what my thought process has been around this and what my decision or plan is.

First I know that I have had a series or knee problems and injuries most of my life. It all started as a kid in little league football when I had a bruised knee cap. I have had I think four meniscus surgeries now with three of them in my right knee. Long ago I cut back on certain activities like running and football to hopefully lessen the damage and or impact and to try and “save” my knees. I clearly remember thinking that I want to save my knees so I could play with my kids and also be able to walk when I am old. Funny those years later I would choose running as my sport of choice to lose weight and become more active. It kind of counter to what I had stuck to for all of those years.

My return to running in recent years has been an active one. But in all honesty I have not nearly put in the miles that I technically should have for the amount of races I have been a part of. So from an impact perspective the amount of miles I have placed on my knees really has been limited. My guess is I have done maybe around 800 miles of training and participating in roughly 20 races over the last four years. I honestly do not think it is the mileage that is hurting me but my weight that has been by the minute hurting me. I’m sure the running didn’t overly help but it is not the main negative factor here. I look at it as once I was out of the Army my weight increased and has been a major factor in my life for some time now. Especially since my mid 30’s I have been at least 40 pounds overweight. Something has to be done. Again I guess that all of that weight over time has certainly done a number on my knees.

So that’s the catch 22 here with me and my heath. To lose weight that is negatively impacting my health in multiple ways I want to run. But the running will possibly hasten the damage to my knees and lead to mobility issues in time. What to do? I personally think that my main goal is to get the weight off and find a way to keep it off. I do think that diet and cardio exercise is the way to do it. I would like to continue to walk/run and also add cycling now into the mix to help me achieve my weight loss goals. Currently I have lost about 25% of the 60 pounds I would like to without exercising. I feel that the combination of these three elements or activities will help me reach my goal hopefully within the next year. So what am I saying here? My decision and plan is to continue down the path I had planned for my health and weight loss before my most recent knee surgery. I think I need to do this smartly and ensure I build a strong foundation strength and endurance wise. Doing so I think I can truly see and or feel if my knee can handle my active lifestyle in the current fashion. If it does show me signs that the current path is not appropriate then I will check and adjust and start doing less running.

But I also know that time is against me in a sense. At some point the impact to the knee will begin to present the problems and pain that go with it. I am not dumb enough to continue to do running and or races just to continue to collect bling and medals from races on my wish list. I do want to ensure that I can enjoy life with my family in the future without having mobility issues. So the long term part of my decision is that longer races like half and full marathons will be limited to the next 2-3 years. In fact I think I will stop any longer running races within the next 1000 days. Yes I do have a handful of races I would like to do in that period but will not kill myself in trying to achieve those goals. So at the latest I will stop at that point and most likely restrict my running to shorter distances like 5ks or shorter distances as a part of duathlons. So that is the plan but as I already know life has a funny way of changing them. So will it be a year or a few years before I slow down? Time will only tell.

At the end of the day it is about being smart, listening to my body and finding that balances to ensure a good quality of life when I am older. But for the moment I will focus on building that foundation and losing weight. Along the way I hope to achieve some of my race goals so I have some memories as well for my old age. Maybe even some stories to tell to the grand kids.
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