Couch to 5k advice.

UncleChetUncleChet N00bLancaster, PARegistered User regular
So, I'm 40, and pretty out of shape. I decided for health and fitness reasons to change this, and the C25k program is my method of choice. I have an odd problem though. I'm former military, and used to love running. I've also been sedentary for about 18 years, and a smoker for 8 of those. The problem I'm having is, I'm getting cramps in my calves. An online friend who does a lot of various fitness projects suggested I might be pacing too fast (which sounds odd), or my stride is messed up. So, my question is, as dumb as it sounds, how do I slow down? I live in the city, (for what it is) and try to plot a course that's mostly flat. I'm averaging my week 1 run segments at between 7 and 10 mins/mile and my walks at around 13. I completed week 1/day 2 today with no "cheat walks" and i didn't spend 40 minutes coughing like i did before, so I'm pretty happy, but for the cramps. Can anyone offer advice?

I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.

Posts

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Is it proper cramping, or just a kind of stretchy ache? If the latter then yeah it could be stride, or just your muscles getting used to behaving in new ways. If it's proper, spasming cramps, then that's different - more likely from deydration or lack of critical salts. Are these happening during the run, or afterwards, or just generally? Make sure you're drinking plenty of water during the day, and you could also try taking a magnesium supplement to see if that helps.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Regular stretching before and after, bananas, proper hydration, and time. If you haven't been running it's not unusual to get some soreness and cramping your first few runs as you build up, especially if you have poor diet. If you are having prolonged issues over time you may have some other problems (muscle tearing, etc).

    You should be running at a pace that feels comfortable to your present levels. Your body should know how far you need to stride, if each step feels off or you feel like you are "pushing" yourself beyond the comfortable range of motion during your jog you are doing something wrong. As you get more comfortable with running you will be able to move faster and farther simply by a matter of practice without overtly pushing your stride length.

    tynic
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Also keep in mind that just because you're not gasping for air after running, that doesn't mean you're not overworking your legs at this point. Your legs are not you lungs! :P

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • UncleChetUncleChet N00b Lancaster, PARegistered User regular
    Thanks fella's =)
    I'd describe it as muscle stretching cramps, it usually occurs within the first 10 minutes of my run. I did purchase neoprene calf sleeves that accidentally were my size (intended for my partner) and wore one today for the affected leg and it helped a great deal. I only consider myself "hydrated" as of yesterday, so that took about a week or so, 5 days now, no soda/HFCS/refined sugar. I'm also slowly improving my diet from one of mostly fatty meats and refined starches to very lean meats and Lots of veggies. I also happen to have developed non-alcoholic fatty liver in my down time, so i'm working on that at the same time.

    So, thanks, I think ya'all are right, it's simply a building up thing, Possibly stride. Once I can afford more "high end" running shoes, such as from a running shoe store vs dept store, where I can get my stride and stuff measured, I think i'll be doing great.

    I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    While a support sleeve can help alleviate the problem in the short term, it can also lead to those muscles/tendons that it's supporting not adjusting properly to running and you becoming dependent on wearing it every time you run. If something hurts, it's much better to learn to back off and take it easy until your body adjusts to it.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
    Ench3ndu
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    My wife had a lot of shin and calf issues when she started running that turned out to actually be a shoe issue. I'm not one of those "YOU NEED THE RIGHT SHOES, MOTHERFUCKER!" running people. But, that said, if you pronate or...the opposite of pronate...you might want a shoes that corrects for it. Some of the more fancy-pants sporting goods stores have mats you can walk on that will measure your stride and how your feet fall, then recommend a shoe type. Everything everyone else has said in here is valid, but you might try the shoe thing.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • BlazeFireBlazeFire Registered User regular
    Do week 1 twice. There are two aspects to your fitness/training: cardiovascular (lungs, heart) and muscles. While you might feel like you should be able to keep going since your cardio is good enough, your muscles need more time.

  • UncleChetUncleChet N00b Lancaster, PARegistered User regular
    BlazeFire wrote: »
    Do week 1 twice. There are two aspects to your fitness/training: cardiovascular (lungs, heart) and muscles. While you might feel like you should be able to keep going since your cardio is good enough, your muscles need more time.

    is something I'm actually big in favor of, it may be shoes as well. I'm running in some generic sauccony that I got at a Ross. First true running shoes I've owned in forever, but just can't afford " good ones" this month

    I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Shoes can be a seriously big deal. I stuck with one pair of running shoes for almost 10 years (and a lot of duct tape) and the net result was an extremely painful hairline fracture in my foot that led to me being unable to run for almost 5 months, and almost a year after that until I got back up to running 10ks. Essentially, I was running barefoot on concrete and damaging my legs and feet with each stressed step until crack. Game over.

    Running shoes need to have proper support. Go to a DSW or some other large shoe warehouse and look for the brands that cater specifically to runners (I go with Brooks, personally). You can usually get a $140 shoe for about $80, and it should last you a solid long time. While you are there, its also a good call to grab some cheap ($10) insoles for your work shoes. They really do make a difference.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    As for your routine, it is more important to be out there than to match the Couch to 5k routine. While C25K is a great thing, if you are having trouble keeping up do as BlazeFire says and just repeat a previous level until you feel comfortable with it. Every minute you are out, walking or running, is better than sitting around doing nothing. "Cheat" walking doesn't exist. Any walking is good for you, just perhaps not as good as a jog.

    Druhim
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2013
    Different runners have different shoe needs. Some runners will be able to do just fine with any old average running shoe as long as it fits, and then surmise from their experience that everyone else is just a special snowflake that's buying a bunch of marketing hooey and paying too much for shoes. A gait analysis would be a good starting point if you have a good running focused store in your area. Some people (such as myself) run in minimalist shoes (Five Fingers in my case) and love them, but that's also not a solution for everyone. So don't let someone talk you into buying a "must have" shoe that will supposedly solve all your problems simply because it's what worked for them. Take some time, experiment with different options if you need to, and listen to your body. If it hurts, switch things up. And good luck!

    Druhim on
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    EncVeritasVR
  • NoquarNoquar Registered User regular
    As well you might be running on the front of your feet - balls, toes - and your calves aren't ready for it. Mine did that until I corrected how I ran.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    It would be very unusual for someone that's not accustomed to running in minimalist shoes like five fingers to be running on the balls of their feet.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • ZenitramZenitram Registered User regular
    Yep, could be the shoes. I am in dire need of a new pair of running shoes, and although my workload is about the same as before, I notice that my calf muscles and sometimes shin muscles feel cramped. They never actually cramp but they have that feeling like they are on the verge.

    And as silly as it sounds, running slower often puts more stress on your leg muscles/joints due to exaggerated and inefficient motion. Keeping your momentum up gives you good form, focus on keeping your back upright (some people like to think of it as pushing your hips forward) and on bringing your knee and leg forward while your foot is kinda up in the air behind it (rather than your foot being close to the ground while doing it). It prevents shuffling and muscle strain. Also try to keep the weight on your heels to a minimum. If this means you have to shorten your distance that's fine, form is important.

    I'm excited, I'm trying to back in shape and I just got my Fitbit Flex in the mail today. Logging my calories and hours and sleep times appeals to me, I can't wait!

    steam_sig.png
  • UncleChetUncleChet N00b Lancaster, PARegistered User regular
    Thanks everyone for posting such good advice. Things I think I know looking back on today's run... stride is much shorter than my old army runs. Trying to keep my feet under me as it were. I'm landing pretty heavily, this could be stride or 205lbs. I last ran at about 155. I tried vibrams once. Lasted about 3 days. Maybe stretch my stride bit? I did get a new route mapped at a local Park for Saturday at least. 3 laps of the duck pond is 1.5 miles

    I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.
  • FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    Just an anecdote.
    I started running again recently, the area around here isn't very flat, and initially, I couldn't run a km without "outrunning my legs". My calves would be screaming, so I'd have to walk for a bit, then run for a bit. It took two weeks to get through it (going regularly).

    My suggestion? When I started - I went for time, rather than distance. So I'd aim to keep my heart rate up for 40 mins. Run/walk etc. Recently, I've increased my runs to 7km, and my target is 8 in 40mins (though that's a pace I cant actually imagine at the moment...!)

    So, keep it up, remember to rest a bit in between runs - and stretch! - but most important is just get out there - especially when you just don't feel like it ;-)

    So, I guess what I'm saying is that some people get it - and while it could be shoes/gait etc It might just be that your calves are really tight and need to get used to hitting the road.

    Fallingman on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • BlazeFireBlazeFire Registered User regular
    Also, there are lots of opinions on stretching before/after. Do some research and decide for yourself. I do dynamic stretches before I run and static stretches when I'm done.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2013
    UncleChet wrote: »
    Thanks everyone for posting such good advice. Things I think I know looking back on today's run... stride is much shorter than my old army runs. Trying to keep my feet under me as it were. I'm landing pretty heavily, this could be stride or 205lbs. I last ran at about 155. I tried vibrams once. Lasted about 3 days. Maybe stretch my stride bit? I did get a new route mapped at a local Park for Saturday at least. 3 laps of the duck pond is 1.5 miles

    Five Fingers take about a month of gradual work up to train into running in because the muscles in your feet that you need to use are just too weak due to not getting used enough in typical shoes. Not that I'm advocating you try Five Fingers again, but just putting that into perspective. I spent weeks of starting with very short distances (like a couple of blocks) and gradually working my way up to running a few miles in them over the course of a couple of months. I love them and doubt I'd ever go back to "traditional" running shoes, but because of that time commitment required in getting adjusted to the barefoot style and the risk of injury if you try to rush things, I definitely don't push it on people.

    Druhim on
    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    UncleChet wrote: »
    I completed week 1/day 2 today with no "cheat walks" and i didn't spend 40 minutes coughing like i did before, so I'm pretty happy, but for the cramps. Can anyone offer advice?

    Wait, are you skipping the walk segments in the Couch to 5k schedule? Those are essential. One of the biggest benefits to me when I used the program was how it eased my body into things. Try doing a Cto5k week exactly as-is, and if at the end you feel it was definitely way too easy for you, jump ahead further in the program but still stick to that new week exactly. If you do week 1 exactly as-is and feel a good level of sore at the end? Then you're on track and the walk portions were useful to you.

    k-maps
  • UncleChetUncleChet N00b Lancaster, PARegistered User regular
    Sorry, no, i'm not skipping the walks. I call a cheat walk a run session where I'd walk instead of running, simply due to being tired. Also, Having finished week 1, dropping soda all together and changing diet i've dropped 6.4 lbs my first week =) (back under 200 =) )

    I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.
  • UncleChetUncleChet N00b Lancaster, PARegistered User regular
    Just wanted to check in. I did my 4th run today. Week 1/day 3. Seems I've figured out the best advice that I was missing. My attitude sucked.
    I was thinking that if my body was telling me to walk, though the program said run, that i was "cheating". Fact is, as sedentary and out of shape as i am/was, Any movement at all is awesome.
    i also plotted a .5 mile course at a local park and ran several laps on a pleasantly even and level surface and was happy to have maintained a pace of 14.02 between both walking and running segments.
    So, yeah, i slapped myself in the head and I feel better now. =)

    I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.
    DruhimEnc
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Don't worry about it now, but later on as you get into better shape, don't make the mistake of avoiding hills. Hills are good. A runner who avoids hills is a mentally weak runner, because the only problem with hills is your mental approach to them.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
    EncThe Judgeh3ndu
  • ZenitramZenitram Registered User regular
    And expanding on Druhim's advice, when you are more comfortable with running, go find some dirt trails to run. The benefits of running on even slightly uneven surfaces are huge, you work the minor muscles that might not otherwise see progress.

    steam_sig.png
    Druhim
  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    Druhim wrote: »
    UncleChet wrote: »
    Thanks everyone for posting such good advice. Things I think I know looking back on today's run... stride is much shorter than my old army runs. Trying to keep my feet under me as it were. I'm landing pretty heavily, this could be stride or 205lbs. I last ran at about 155. I tried vibrams once. Lasted about 3 days. Maybe stretch my stride bit? I did get a new route mapped at a local Park for Saturday at least. 3 laps of the duck pond is 1.5 miles

    Five Fingers take about a month of gradual work up to train into running in because the muscles in your feet that you need to use are just too weak due to not getting used enough in typical shoes. Not that I'm advocating you try Five Fingers again, but just putting that into perspective. I spent weeks of starting with very short distances (like a couple of blocks) and gradually working my way up to running a few miles in them over the course of a couple of months. I love them and doubt I'd ever go back to "traditional" running shoes, but because of that time commitment required in getting adjusted to the barefoot style and the risk of injury if you try to rush things, I definitely don't push it on people.

    This is also true of Newton's in case anyone is thinking of getting a pair of those. Now that I'm used to them, I couldn't imagine wearing anything else for distance running, but there was a definite period of acclimation with them.

    steam_sig.png
  • Dr_KeenbeanDr_Keenbean Dumb as a butt Planet Express ShipRegistered User regular
    edited June 2013
    If you have a smartphone there's a couch to 5k version of Zombies, Run! that's really neat. I just started using it.

    Dr_Keenbean on
    PSN: Dr_Keenbean LIVE: Dr Keenbean Battle.net Drkeenbean#1951
  • psycojesterpsycojester Registered User regular
    I'm also doing the first week of the zombies run couch to 5k and i was wondering what exercise people would suggest for the rest days when i'm not jogging? Generally i'm finding that i've been having similar experiences. I'm fine on my cardio and my thighs handle it but my calves and shins really start to hurt after i've been going for a bit

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • psycojesterpsycojester Registered User regular
    I'm also doing the first week of the zombies run couch to 5k and i was wondering what exercise people would suggest for the rest days when i'm not jogging? Generally i'm finding that i've been having similar experiences. I'm fine on my cardio and my thighs handle it but my calves and shins really start to hurt after i've been going for a bit

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • psycojesterpsycojester Registered User regular
    Derp double

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • legallytiredlegallytired Registered User regular
    I had the same issue and using a foam roller pretty much fixed it. YMMV

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    For non-training days:

    -take the stairs (always always always)
    -park at the farthest spot
    -walk to your grocery store
    -don't use a shopping cart, carry things in canvas bags
    -do 100 jumping jacks before getting in the shower

    Little things add up too.

  • Dr_KeenbeanDr_Keenbean Dumb as a butt Planet Express ShipRegistered User regular
    I do weight training when I'm not doing my couch to 5k regimen.

    Sun - Tue - Thu I run and Mon - Wed - Fri I lift weights focusing primarily on squats and then alternating compound lifts. Basically my legs are like 'man whatever' and shrug off anything I throw at them.

    Granted my goals are not weight loss or anything like that. My goals are building strength and endurance. The bulking up and burning fat are just byproducts. :P

    PSN: Dr_Keenbean LIVE: Dr Keenbean Battle.net Drkeenbean#1951
  • Panda4YouPanda4You Registered User regular
    Zenitram wrote: »
    And expanding on Druhim's advice, when you are more comfortable with running, go find some dirt trails to run. The benefits of running on even slightly uneven surfaces are huge, you work the minor muscles that might not otherwise see progress.
    Plus, running on unpaved ground is much better for your joints/knees.

    Also, I felt pushing beyond the "4x5mins of running" week (no. 5?) in c25k was really tough. Don't feel bad staying on that step for some time, while working up shape; I think I stayed on step 5-6 for like six months before I felt I could do ~5kms in one go.

    k-maps
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