How I went from knee pain to running with this run/walk plan

There I was: starting to come back from knee pain, but really had a lot of fears holding me back (before I even started):

  • general and complete confusion: After being out of commission for two months where do I even start without injuring myself.
  • fear of the injury – could I make things WORSE?!? trying to work on a bunch of fixes (new form, IT bands/core strengthening). How do I balance all that and get back into running?
  • fear of failing – what if I simply couldn’t do it?

Never fear, the doc’s here….with a “run/walk to a 5K” program!

Whew!! Now I could bypass my some of my fears and confusion about not knowing what to do, because my doc was kind enough to prescribe a walk-to-run program that would get me ready for a 5k. Yay!!

I’ve seen other walk-to-run programs from Runner’s World for example, and Cool Runnings has the Couch-to-5k program. So, how does this one differ? It seems like its more walk heavy at the beginning. Plus, there’s a minimum, defined walk baseline that you should be at before starting and some stopping rules my doctor added. **Please note: I am not a doctor, nor do I even play one on tv. While I’m happy to share the advice I’ve been given, please seek out your own doctor’s advice before embarking on this plan.**

“Walk-to-run” plan overview

The general idea here is to slowly build up a walking base. Specifically, you have to be able to walk 4.0mph for 10 miles per week (in 3-4 times/week). If you’ve been inactive, don’t be surprised if it takes you awhile to build this base. Once you’re there, you’ll slowly introduce running and eventually build up distance and intensity.

Stopping rule: Pain is our signal here — experience any pain and/or swelling and you have to step back one week from where you’re at. If you’re still in base phase, you have to stop, use rest/ice until things subside and try to start over. Now, let’s get to the plan!!

Part 1: keep doing IT band/hip strengthening exercises ~3x/week.

I’m improving but not where I need to be yet. Sooooo, got to keep sticking with those IT band strengthening exercises. Core strength is critical to maintaining good form, so don’t overlook this part.

Part 2: in parallel, work on building your baseline walking (probably 2-3 weeks).

As someone who considers herself a runner, this part is/was frustrating. That being said, coming from no base it’s been more a challenge. You’ve got to start somewhere. Try to take a day off in between to make sure there’s no pain or swelling following your walks. Concentrate on maintaining good walking posture and form.

Part 3: start the walk-to-run cycle.

Drumroll please! Here we go with the most exciting part…the walk/running! The table below breaks down how you should alternate walking and running, how far you should go per session, and total mileage you should shoot for.

Let’s walk through week 1 as an example. You will alternate walking for 3 minutes and then running for 30 seconds over a total of 2-3 miles. If you do ~3 walk/runs in a week, your total miles should be ~6-8 miles for the week. Best to do ~3 times per week because this allows you to have a day off in between to make sure no pain/swelling pops up.

week walk run distance (miles) miles/week
1 3 min 30 sec 2-3 6-8
2 3 min 1 min 2-3 8-10
3 2 min 1 min 2-4 8-12
4 2 min 2 min 2-5 8-12
5 1 min 3 min 3-5 10-14
6 1 min 5 min 3-6 10-14
7 1 min 1 mile 3-6 10-14

That’s it!

How have you come back from injury?

Ever experienced an injury that sidelined you? How’d you make it back? How’d you avoid it in the future? My knee’s doing better these days but not 100% top notch. Still, having a plan in place helps make it easier to getting back in shape!

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