I'm a newbie jogger. I have questions.
September 26, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

New jogger needs advice: achy joints, sore feet. I'm using a jogging stroller and fairly restricted to road/sidewalk surfaces in a small geographic area.

Background: I had two kids, two years apart, with two terrible pregnancies and two exhausting year-long breastfeedings. I had plantar fasciitis during my second pregnancy and it took FOREVER to heal, and my joints were all very loose during both pregnancies and while breastfeeding. After four solid years of hormones and growing other humans, I'm in terrible shape, and carrying extra baby weight. I started walking a lot this summer, and after the baby weaned, I started "pre-couch-to-5K-ing," because I was not in good enough shape for week one of getting your ass off the couch. I had to work up to being able to manage all of week one. So, I did that, achieved week one, sprained my knee, waited for it to heal, started over. Which is where I am now:

I have been going for about three weeks on a couch-to-5K program. (The first week and a half was working back up to completing all of week 1, then three times through the week 1 workout. Now I am on week 2.) I am training three times a week, MWF. I walk my older child to preschool and then the younger one and I go jogging. So I must use a jogging stroller, which means I am restricted to roads and sidewalks, and in a fairly small geographical area near the preschool. (Because I know jogging on a track or grass might help some of this, but I can only jog if I have the jogging stroller, and only during this time after I drop off #1.) The second week is 6 intervals of 90 seconds jogging and 2 minutes walking, which I am just about managing.

Here are my problems/questions:
1) My feet had been doing fine for the last two months or so that I've been at this (I am wearing sneakers, from a running store, that I only use for jogging, so they're getting 48 hours between wearings), but suddenly today they hurt like crazy. I had to walk the last jogging interval because they hurt so bad. What do I do? Do I not jog? Different shoes? Insoles? Doctor?

2) I stretch before and after, and I'm usually fine most of the day after I jog, but in the evening my muscles and joints will start to ache and my recently-sprained knee gets very painful, so much that I'll put a knee brace on. The knee is usually fine the next morning, but my joints will ache all day the next day. I've been taking Aleve for the aches when they're bad. Will this go away with time, or is this a sign I'm doing something very wrong? What stretches should I be doing that I might not be doing?

(I know that I'm carrying too much weight and that is not thrilling for my joints, but I don't think that gets better unless I start getting in shape and losing weight. I know something like swimming might be good, but my only option for consistent exercise right now is walking or jogging, and I really want to do this couch-to-5K.)

3) My inner thighs burn like they are on FIRE. (Okay, a little less so today.) Is this normal for beginners? Normal for a jogging stroller? (More upright posture, legs doing more work because torso is fairly still.) I assume if this is normal it'll fade in time as I get stronger.

4) What should I be doing on my off-days?

I have been trying to peruse Runner's World's website and forums, but there is so MUCH stuff and most of the beginner's stuff I'm finding is either way too basic (Did you know humans have to drink water sometimes?) or too advanced (I have been jogging in a 65-RX27-L14 shoe and am thinking of switching to a 65-RX28-L15 shoe ...)

Should I slow down and only train twice a week? Try different shoes? Change my posture? Stretch better? Halp. I also appreciate any other tips for new runners you might have.

I can go see my general practitioner if I need to, though it always takes a couple weeks to get in. I am eating sensibly. Normal days involve a mix of chasing kids around/walking at parks/etc., running errands, and sitting reading books/supervising indoor playtime.

The other thing is, this is a secret. Only the baby knows we're jogging and he only says like 10 words and none of them are "jog." None of my friends or family (including my husband!) know, because people have been teasing me for as long as I can remember that I'm clumsy and unathletic (true!), and in self-defense I developed a sense of humor about it, so other people feel okay making fun of me about it, so whenever I start doing any kind of exercise, people either make fun of me for it, or make a super-big deal about my doing something so fish-out-of-water, and I'm not comfortable with either reaction. So I feel like I need to get achieve a certain level of competence at this before letting other people know so that it's a done deal and I'm ALREADY a jogger, not just TRYING TO BE a jogger. Also thinking of myself as a secret ninja jogger makes jogging more fun. But it makes it hard to get advice!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Secret ninja jogger is an amazing phrase. I would say make t-shirts but I guess that would defeat the secret part...

I am not an expert, though I have been through a number of years of cycling through training/long races/injuries/training. The thing is, jogging shouldn't be causing insane amounts of pain. If you are in constant pain that is never clearing up, something has gone wrong.

Sudden pain in both of your feet could mean anything from "your shoes worked great but they've worn down in a way that hurts you" to "actual medical issue." Do your feet hurt today when walking barefoot? When wearing normal shoes? If they are only hurting when wearing those shoes, then yes, new shoes or insoles might help. Also, sometimes feet are weird. Not as weird as knees, but weird. Is there any specific part that hurts-- metatarsals, tendons, balls of your feet, heels....?

Aches-- this is probably normal, although your knee sounds especially touchy. What kinds of stretches are you doing?

Inner thigh pain-- muscle pain or a chafing pain? Because the latter is totally fixable! If it's a muscle pain, then yes, probably this will fade over time. Squats or other exercises might help.

It sounds like you might really benefit from some basic strengthening exercises, like basic squats or lunges, if your knee was strong enough to bear it. Have you worked at all on core exercises, like planks or pushups? Is there any way you could see a local PT who works with athletes for a session to get some specific workout recommendations? Or a trainer who works with beginning athletes? You also may want to speak with the folks at your running store to see if they have any jogging stroller-specific advice. It's possible that your form is being pushed out of whack by using it, or that it's putting stress on your body in a specific way that could be remedied.

Good luck!
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:51 AM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: Good for you for getting out there and being so committed. It's not easy. I, too, have done Couch to 5K and repeated most weeks - especially week 2, but for different reasons than you (I have asthma). I was curious about my progress in C25K and, being the nerd that I am, created a spreadsheet that shows the % of change from week to week. I found this very helpful to know what I was in for, and to help when I got discouraged. If you like, MeMail me and I'll send you the file. I did this because I couldn't find anything like it on the Internet that explained the methodology behind C25K. I'll answer in the order you listed for clarity....

1: How were you fitted for shoes? You might want to see a podiatrist to get an exact fit (do they do that?) or at least a recommendation - they can certainly tell you if you are an under/over pronator. Given your medical history with your feet, it may not be a bad idea to get a bit of medical advice.

2: Re: stretching, I found this article with pictures that I've come to use all the time. It's REALLY helpful to know which muscle groups to stretch. I do this before my workouts and it's helped a lot with cramping, muscle fatigue, etc. Also, have you tried glucosamine? My husband uses this from time to time and swears by it.

3: Try the groin stretch - sit with your feet touching and (gently!) push your knees downward toward the floor. It will fade as you get stronger. I know you're on a MWF schedule, but once I took a week off from running and the next week I was a LOT stronger. Sometimes your body just needs to rest.

4: I agree with your sentiments about Runner's World - it does seem either/or. Do you have the opportunity to try yoga? I've found that it's a really effective way to build strength without burning myself out. Stretches muscles, strengthens joints (that's a big one for me), and is just... calming : )

Re: the secret - In my mind, if you're out there, you're a jogger. You should be proud and others should, too! I was often made fun of in high school for my lack of coordination and general clumsiness... I totally get where you're coming from. Do you have any friends that will go out there with you, incognito? Meetup groups? Sounds like you're doing fine on your own... C25K is great for confidence building and you'll find on the forums that LOTS of folks don't complete it in 9 weeks. I sure wasn't one of them (still on week 6!) but you can always participate in a 5K run/walk. Perhaps your family can go with you once you feel comfortable sharing your accomplishments. It really is a lot of fun, and there are lots of folks who are just out there for the fun of it, not running 5 minute miles.

Hope this helps! Best of luck!
posted by luciddream928 at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: People who know more than I do will give better answers, but here are a few things that have helped me:

— If possible, don't jog on the sidewalk. The asphalt is softer and therefore easier on your joints. I'm most comfortable jogging on the left side of the asphalt, so I can see oncoming cars and hop up on sidewalks (using driveways if I have my jogging stroller) when necessary. Obviously this doesn't work on even moderately busy roads.

— Don't be afraid to slow down, repeat weeks in your training plan, or both. This can help you ease into your new life as a secret ninja jogger.

— Focus on warming up before and stretching after. Stretching before a run doesn't appear to reduce your chances of injury.
posted by griseus at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2012

I am a chubby, adult-onset exerciser, so that's my frame of reference. There are not any huge red flags for me here. (Aside from the sprained knee.) You're taking it slow, and it sounds like your body is all, "Whoa, this is weird." That's normal.

I also want to add that you shouldn't worry about how slow your progress is, because, holy crap, jogging and jogging with a stroller are completely different. (The stroller, no matter how fancy , makes jogging so much harder.)

Different shoes are always a good option, but I think runners just like to buy different shoes. (This urge preceded any actual running competence for me.) Your feet will need time to adjust to the pounding you're giving them, and since (on a gross level) your feet are a bunch of small bones held together by connective tissue -- which likely loosened during pregnancy -- it's not crazy that they're hurting.

At this level, stretching should only be done for your comfort. Do it if you like it, but the evidence is really mixed about injury prevention and stuff.

If your knee continues to hurt, I'd see a doctor, though.

(Secret ninja runner is a fun phase. I myself did a variation, which was, if I wake up insanely early to run, it will be dark, so I will be invisible.)
posted by purpleclover at 8:58 AM on September 26, 2012

You're going to get a lot of advice to get fitted properly for a pair of shoes by a specialist at a running store, because different shoes compensate for different types of feet and different types of strides. Do you have flat feet? High arches? Do you overpronate? Underpronate? They make different shoes for all of those, and this can be really good advice. I'm going to go in a different direction because I tried all that and always ended up injuring my knee over and over again no matter how I tried to compensate for it with shoes.

What I ended up doing was trying the somewhat controversial and trendy idea of switching my stride from a heel strike to a forefoot strike. The thinking is that if you land on the balls of your feet instead of your heels, all the joints in your leg can help absorb the impact of each step, whereas when you land on your heels you just BLAM BLAM BLAM into the pavement with every step, and that's hell on your joints. It's a difficult transition to make for a heel striker. It feels like you're prancing instead of running, until you get the hang of taking shorter, quicker strides and landing with your feet undeneath your hips instead of thrust out in front of you. It works the hell out of your arches and calves too, and it's almost like starting all over again from a stamina and speed perspective. And you kind of have to commit to it with a pair of shoes that has a low heel-to-toe drop. My current favorite is a pair of Sauconys with a 4mm drop. You have to look for them specifically because most running shoes really elevate your heels with a bunch of cushioning, and it's really difficult not to heel strike in shoes like that.

This happens to be the one year anniversary, to the day, of when I decided stop being an obese, sedentary smoker and start being a runner. So I've been reflecting on these issues a lot. I'd go on (and on and on) but I'm late for work now. I can say that it does get better if you stick with it. As a runner, your legs are almost always going to be in some state of fatigue, and for me it was 3-4 months after I got up to three miles a day before the "OMG they always hurt" stopped. The only other thing I want to advise is if you are able to with the kiddo, elevate and ice your knee for twenty minutes after every run whether it hurts or not.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:59 AM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Try slowing down to twice a week for a couple of weeks. You may just be over working your muscles.
posted by COD at 8:59 AM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: Slow your roll. Literally. A little muscle soreness after starting a new exercise routine is ok and normal and probably even good, but consistent joint pain is never a good sign. I would switch /go back to a walking-based program with intervals and give the knee and all your other joints longer to adapt to the mileage. Maybe throw in a few bursts of jogging once a week.

Also, the burning inner thighs is very odd (I assume you mean muscle ache and not chaffing, and by inner thigh you mean your adductors (your Thigh Master muscles). The adductors are pretty far down on the list of muscles engaged by normal running. It makes me think that something odd is going on with your balance/posture. However, going uphill or pushing a jogging stroller will work your hamstrings/glutes more than flat unladen jogging.

You also might give Superfeet or Powerstep Pinnacle insoles a try.
posted by drlith at 9:12 AM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: The thing that has helped me the most (aside from orthotic inserts for my running shoes) is to double the amount of time I spend stretching afterwards. If I run for an hour, I'm going to spend, at the very least, another 30 minutes on deep and serious stretching of everything possible below the waist, including lower back and deep abs/psoas stuff.

If the knee aches after a run, ice it! Have you done any PT with an actual therapist for the knee? They should be able to give you a bunch of strengthening exercises for the areas around the knee to better support it.

My off days are used for core strengthening stuff and yoga. (tbh running is what I do on my off days from the other stuff.)
posted by elizardbits at 9:18 AM on September 26, 2012

The inner thigh thing is weird, yeah. Muscle soreness is not really a problem per se (aside from being uncomfortable, of course), so I'm wondering if there's something going on with your gait. This seems like a non sequitur, but what kind of pants or shorts are you wearing? Are they bunching up and causing your stride to be wonky? (I can't run in anything shorter than knee-length or my thighs get all weird.)
posted by purpleclover at 9:21 AM on September 26, 2012

Soreness is normal, pain is your body saying "this is wrong."

I would suggest you reexamine some of your assumptions, in order to simplify the situation.

Specifically, you know you should try running on a soft surface, because cement is the worst, and asphalt is only a little better. But you have a stroller, so ...

Lock the stroller up and do your run without it. Pick it up at the end of school or the end of your run (and if you do it at the end of your run, walk it home as your cool-down).

Also, up the percent of the time you are walking instead of running. Your pains suggest to me that your skeleton and joints are still getting used to impact. Give them less stress / more time to adjust.

Finally, see a podiatrist who deals with runners, and have your feet and shoes checked out for proper support. It could be that you have pronation or supination that your shoes aren't correcting for, and that is leading to additional stress on your knees and muscles.
posted by zippy at 9:30 AM on September 26, 2012

Lock the stroller up and do your run without it.

There is a child in the stroller.
posted by purpleclover at 9:35 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is a child in the stroller.

Then lock up the ...

I missed that detail. Then I think they'll need to modify the routine so the run can happen without the stroller.
posted by zippy at 9:44 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Running is too hard on your body right now. Take it down a step -- do some powerwalking. It's much more gentle on your joints and will help you build up to jogging.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:01 AM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: Have you come across the idea of foam rolling? Where you kind of roll your legs (or other body parts) on a hard cylinder of foam? If not, I'm happy to put together a few key resources on the benefits, and a few tips to getting started. It has been the cure for many of my ligament and tendon and muscle pains. But I know some people just aren't into the idea, so I don't want to force the issue.

This may also be controversial, but many people paradoxically find relief with less support in their shoes. The "barefoot running" phenomenon is a bit nuts right now, but there are some basic principles which can be extended to walking with a stroller. Happy to give more detail if you're interested.

Most importantly: slow down. No, slower. No, even slower. The C25K is a great program because it's decently slow for people who are mostly already in shape and frequent exercisers. The problem with it, is that because it's outlined like a schedule -- week by week -- you think you're "doing it wrong" if you don't keep up.

I'd actually aim to repeat every single week, at least. And when you're jogging, you want to be able to keep up a conversation. Pretend you're a stealth ninja jogger talking into your earpiece. If you're panting, your cover is blown. Stay slow enough that you're OK to get through a few sentences without dying for air.

On a personal note, about three years ago I joined a gym, right after a knee surgery. All of the trainers wanted to measure me and weigh me and get baseline measurements "to monitor improvement." But my #1 goal was NOT TO GET INJURED. That meant that everything else was secondary. If it meant going at a granny's pace, we did. It didn't mean that I didn't get sore - I did. But the mantra was "not injured ever." My #2 goal was DEVELOP A HABIT OF ENJOYING EXERCISE. This was part of Goal #1, but it was important to highlight. Most of all, I wanted to enjoy working out, enjoy my body and not hate its injuries or perceived imperfections.

So I told the trainers that I didn't want ANY measurements in the typical sense. My progress would be measured in terms of "am I enjoying myself? If not, what can we do to change that?" and "does my body feel good or does it hurt?" and fixing those problems as we went along. The goal was not 5k, or 30 pushups, or dropping a pants size. It all seems so obvious "be safe and enjoy" but I knew that had to be the GOAL not the nice side effect to working towards another goal.

Now, I do recognize the importance of having a goal to work towards, and the C25K is great for that: quantifiable, measurable progress towards a specific goal. Maybe you can take a step back and re-evaluate your goal? Maybe your goal is to be a happy stealth ninja who can get around the park lap twice without wanting to die. That means no injuries, slow progress, enjoy your surroundings, pace yourself. In other words, maybe there needs to be another goal before C25K? Not because you can't do it, but because you might find it more enjoyable, and hence, more likely to stick.

Sorry for the somewhat disjointed response, but as you can tell, I'm right there with you.

Huge kudos to you for taking a step (literally) out of your comfort zone. Happy trails to you!
posted by barnone at 10:19 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Most beginning runners jog too fast for what they can handle. When you're jogging, jog at the speed called, any slower and I'd be walking. If you don't feel sore at all during the rest day, you have my permission to run a little faster, but running too fast at first is what makes more people quit trying.
posted by advicepig at 10:38 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

On your off days, try doing pushups and situps. They are easy on the running joints and they don't don't require equipment, travel or time. They also exercise some useful muscles that don't get a lot of use when you're jogging, so you can rest your legs and build some needed strength.

Also, lighten your workout every fourth week or so.
posted by Kwine at 10:49 AM on September 26, 2012

I have horrible, horrible knees. Okay, maybe not that bad, but I've had surgery on both, I have all sorts of messed-up patellar cartilage, and when they are mad, they swell to the size of something .. .enormous and round.

The forefoot striking thing has helped me SO MUCH. I did these exercises, and then did something similar to your pre-couch-to 5K plan. I'm only on week 4, but I am not having pain, just fatigue.

Good luck, ninja jogger!
posted by marmot at 10:52 AM on September 26, 2012

I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this but I tell people not to run to lose weight. Run once you have lost weight.

You only have two legs and their accompanying joints to last you the rest of your life. Running with extra weight is exponentially bad for those joints. The estimates I have heard are forces up to 4 to 8 times your weight so 10-15lbs extra can equal carrying 40 to 120lbs extra.

Get your weight down first. Count your calories consumed and burned (I used livestrong's daily plate) and aim to lose 1-2lbs a week. Walking or cycling are far better (and cycling with a baby is much easier than stroller jogging) exercises for people trying to lose weight.

I seriously damaged the cartilage in my knees by running heavy and is a problem that I will live with for the rest of my life unless science steps up with a way to regenerate destroyed cartilage (come on science!).

Once you are light running is a brilliant way to stay both light and fit if done in moderation but it really isn't a good weight loss strategy. That said some people manage to lose weight this way and avoid injury. I didn't.
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Answering a bunch of questions at once:

Stretches: Butterfly knees, one leg out, both legs out, touching toes, standing pulling on quad. I'm trying to find a good one for my lower back.

Inner thighs: Yeah, muscle soreness, not chafing (yes, the thighmaster muscles!). Goes away pretty quickly after I run, and wasn't so bad the last couple of times. I think it might be the jogging stroller because you work your legs a lot harder since your upper body is all Lord of the Dance and not moving much. I'm wearing pants that are fitted through the thigh and loose around the lower legs and they're not bunching or moving, they're pretty comfortable. (They prevent chafing!)

Shoes/Feet: Shoes were fitted at a running store by pros. Feet don't hurt walking around barefoot or in normal shoes; today they just hurt really bad WHILE I was running but as soon as I stopped they stopped hurting and by the time I was done stretching and showering they felt fine and normal.

Stroller: Yes, there's a child in the stroller. :) Basically, due to a variety of scheduling and life issues, exercise happens with the stroller and at that time, or it doesn't happen at all. I'm pretty happy with it: I only have one kid at the time, the baby gets fresh air and likes the running/walking and takes a good nap, I am already out from walking to preschool so even if I punked out I'd still have to walk home so punking out never seems worth it ... . I may be able to jog solo on Mondays in a couple of weeks, but I'll have to see how the care situation works out.

Pace: I think I'm running pretty slow ... I'm using a podcast that sets your pace by beats per minute and the jogging BPM is barely faster than the walking BPM. (I also have a small jogging stride, I think I'm hitting midfoot pretty well.) I definitely have in the past set out way too fast and hard, so having music that forces me to stay slow is helpful.

So it sounds like if I keep at it a couple weeks more and the achy muscles lessen, my real problem is just my feet. If I keep being super-achy, I probably need to talk to my doctor.

So I will:
1) Repeat weeks as necessary. I don't mind repeating twice or three times, though it's very helpful to hear that other people do the same! I do need the C25K to work for as a goal. Maybe powerwalk one session per week (Wednesdays. Wednesdays are the worst.) until my muscles and joints get stronger and more used to the pounding.

2) Run more on the road, less on the sidewalk.

3) Try some yoga and/or core exercises and/or pushups and situps on off days to get my core muscles stronger.

4) Worry about my feet. :)

I do actually overall feel BETTER ... I'm sleeping better, I feel healthier and fitter, I can actually see my abs tightening up under the baby flab (makes the baby flab look weird). All-over tired-muscle aching is better than stabby pain from pulling something because I'm so out of shape (and my back in particular has been pretty painful from a weak core and lots of lifting heavy children), and I've noticed I've been having less badly-pulled muscles and so on from everyday childcare activities.

Ninja 4 Life!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:55 AM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: I, too, am C25K-ing after the joys of spawning and sustaining a new tiny human. And my body is protesting in new and exciting ways. I think we all underestimate just how much of a lingering effect pregnancy and bf-ing can have on our bodies. The first time I did c25K (pre-baby), I got to week 4 before I really hit the wall. This time around, I started needing repeats on week 1 OMGhuffpuff.

In addition to repeating weeks, my best suggestion is to increase your warmup and cooldown walks. For me, it doesn't matter how much or how little I stretch, but if I don't double (at least) the standard 5 minute cooldown walk, I will hurt SO BAD the next day. And I add probably 2 minutes at least to the warmup walk (meaning I walk 2 minutes before starting the podcast/app/whatever, and for at least 5 minutes after).

For what it's worth, I will now be sending you happy healthy mommy vibes as I huff and puff my way around my neighborhood...
posted by somanyamys at 10:57 AM on September 26, 2012

Seconding the SuperFeet inserts; I do a pose running stride (mid-foot strike) and the addition of these inserts sent my plantar fasciitis packing. Also, if you can get your hands on a Stick, they're a great alternative to stretching right before a run, and help with warming up muscles safely.

You're not alone in the getting-back-to-normal race after spawning. I ran before my first, after her and before my second (and last) and after him and it's been like starting over every single time. If you have access to a smartphone, Adidas has an app called MiCoach that I LOVE, largely because it tracks your pace (not so great on hills but overall it's not bad) and helps you keep from running too fast or too slow. It also allows you to adjust your pace ranges automatically and manually; that really helps me when I notice an issue with staying in a range. And I love the online component; I can adjust my schedule when necessary, and see how many miles I've done in a week or month or whatever.

Ninja mommies rule!
posted by tigerjade at 11:09 AM on September 26, 2012

I did C25K this spring/summer! I totally get the keeping it secret thing- I was majorly unathletic in school and didn't even feel comfortable running outside in the daytime (because people might SEE ME ahh) until I was pretty far into C25K. So I didn't really want to talk about it to my friends and family. I've been using Fitocracy as a substitute for talking about exercising in real life- it's a really supportive community, you can track your workouts, and getting positive feedback every time you post about finishing a workout or having trouble is nice motivation. There's a popular C25K group filled with lots of people in exactly your position. I highly recommend it.

The standard C25K advice is go slower! No, slower than that. Slooow. Don't worry at all about how fast you're going or how far from 5K in 30 minutes you are. A nice thing about Fitocracy is that you can see the details of other people's runs, so you get a sense of what's normal.

Spreading out the workouts is also a great idea. I rarely did more than two workouts a week throughout the entire program, and I made it to 5K eventually. I think your idea of walking one session a week is fantastic. Give yourself lots and lots of time to recover, especially in the beginning, and your body will be happier in the long run (ha).
posted by MadamM at 11:36 AM on September 26, 2012

Try shorter intervals of a faster pace plus longer periods of walking for recovery. Slow pace equals more foot strikes, which can sometimes mean more strain.

Also yes, modify your routine (whether with stroller or without, without if possible) so it's easier.
posted by zippy at 11:44 AM on September 26, 2012

Observe your form when you run. Fancy schmancy shoes help a bit but nothing is worse than bad form.

1. run on the beach. Go back and notice your footmarks. You can notice if you're heel-striking. If you are - fix it promptly.
2. When you land, your leg should be under you. The tip of your head to your feet should form a relatively straight line. If your leg is a little forward - you're over striding and it's really bad for your knees and joints. It helps if you consciously shorten your stride to avoid overstriding.
3. Land with a slightly bended knees.
4. I personally would not run with a stroller. It throws off my biomechanic too much. If you must - pay extra attention to the 3 points above.
posted by 7life at 12:52 PM on September 26, 2012

So I feel like I need to get achieve a certain level of competence at this before letting other people know so that it's a done deal and I'm ALREADY a jogger, not just TRYING TO BE a jogger.

One quick point: you are jogging, so you are a jogger, no question about it.

If anyone give you any shit about it just tell them where to go.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:00 PM on September 26, 2012

Sorry to repeat myself, but take a look at foam rolling aka myofascial release. Here are some exercises for runners. The key when rolling is to make your muscles relaxed, not taut. It hurts like a mofo (to the point of swearing) but it's been incredibly effective for many of my family and friends, athletic and not.

The blue ones are better for beginners, but with practice, you'll find they're not hard enough. The black ones are a step above that. You can also get a small lacrosse ball (cheap) and use that as a massaging point on trigger points on your back, glutes, feet and hamstrings. Stash them in a closet and you can roll while your kids are playing on the floor!

If you're not super flexible, these straps with handles are soooo useful. You don't want to go past the point of pain, but it gives a bit of traction in those difficult poses.
posted by barnone at 2:51 PM on September 26, 2012

Response by poster: I think I hit the achiness apex and am on the downhill; I woke up non-achy. Apparently I just had to ask the question to make it stop! (As is so often the case.)

My feet are sore, though, and feeling a little plantar fasciitis-y. I ordered some SuperFeet inserts to try.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:13 AM on September 27, 2012

"I'm clumsy and unathletic"

You will get better, I promise. I thought this same thing, and I got over it, and you can too.

I was a fat kid. I graduated high school at 280 lbs. I was 33 years old and 352 lbs when I decided to start walking and eating better (New Year's Resolution 2010).

Now I'm down to 200 lbs, training for my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon in a month and my third full marathon (target marathon time of 3:30) in January. My 5K PR is 21:25. So, I'm pretty fast, way faster than I ever expected to be. I love races, but I look around and think it is ridiculous that I'm running with all these athletes, because I'm just a fat guy.

But I discovered that athleticism, like everything else, is a learned skill. You will get better, and it is a direct function of how much you work at it.

My #1 tip - progress slowly. It sounds like you are doing this, repeating weeks when necessary. I started walking, and it took me 6 months (and losing 80 lbs) before I could run a mile.

1) If the feet thing was a one time deal, it's no biggie. Stuff like this happens, little aches come from nowhere. Just take it easy until it feels better, then work into it gradually.

If it continues, try to think about your form as you are running, and think how to correct it or make it better. You might also check with a coach or even a doctor.

"I also have a small jogging stride"

Regarding form, this is a very good thing.

2) "What stretches should I be doing that I might not be doing?" The stretches you are doing are awful. You are doing static stretches (pulling one muscle taut and holding it to stretch it out), but research has shown that static stretching can be detrimental to performance and doesn’t necessarily lead to decreases in injury. Instead, you want to do dynamic stretches (using sport specific movements to prepare the body for movement). Here is a good dynamic stretch routine from Runner's World.

3) Since this is muscle soreness, it should get better. Strength exercises and improving your form/posture will help also.

4) "What should I be doing on my off-days?" Experts recommend cross training, so your yoga/core/strength plan is excellent. I would also recommend plain old walking, since it will help with sport specific improvements related to your running.

"I do actually overall feel BETTER"

This is AWESOME, congratulations. Keep this in mind when you are exercising. Most people focus on a specific goal, often unrelated to their routine, such as losing weight, and if they don't see the scale drop they get down and stop exercising. Don't do that! Fitness is a reward of it's own, even if you don't lose weight you will feel better and be healthier.

My final suggestion is, if you can, find a group. My run group is wonderful, full of supportive people of all speeds. It helps motivate me, and gives me someplace I can go to get advice. I know in my area there are a lot of running groups targeted to SAHMs.

Good for you for starting this. I wish you so much luck in this. If there is anything I can do, feel free to memail me.
posted by I am the Walrus at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The process has been a bit up and down, with a pause because of some child-related issues, but the achy inner thighs stopped as I got used to running with the jogging stroller. The SuperFeet have made a big different in my plantar fasciitis and I'm wearing them in my favorite walking shoes. I don't know when I will make it all the way to the 5K part of the 5K (especially with all this stopping and starting), but I am rolling along slowly and improving!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:16 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

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