Ask the FBGs: Looking for a Little Running Inspiration

Today we’re featuring an Ask the FBGs post. This feature allows readers like you to ask the FBGs for advice. Nothing is off limits, although we do prefer that it’s fitness or nutrition related, so send your undying health questions to AsktheFBGs@fitbottomedgirls.com. You just might see them posted on the site in the future!


Dear FBGs,

I’ve never been a runner. I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but I’ve had three knee surgeries, possess the will power of a 5-year old and have to regularly talk myself out of stopping at the cupcake store that just opened across the street from me (buttercream frosting to die for!). Though I have logged my fair share of hours in the gym, I have never dared to try to enter the unattainable world of the runner.

Yes, I’ve watched enviously as women in my neighborhood run past with their perfect, undimpled thighs and gazelle-like form, but there’s something about it that seemed out of reach. Like trying to do a cartwheel after the age of 30. Could I do it? Maybe. Should I do it? Maybe not. I’m not a big risk taker. I typically keep my workouts in the safe zone—elliptical machine, recumbent bike or the treadmill. To run is to be wild, to be free. Women who run are self confident. They are comfortable saying “no.” They don’t wrap a towel around their waist at the beach. They climb the corporate ladder with ease. Men swoon. Dogs cower. Sales girls flee. They are everything I’m not.

Becoming a runner seemed like too much of a stretch. And then everything changed. I hit 40. So I decided that this was going to be the year. The year I turned it all around. The year I became…a runner. I was going to run like the wind. My ponytail would make that methodical swish-swish motion as I ran past all those poor schlumpadinkas who walk briskly and try to pass it off as real cardio. I would run past the walkers, past the doubt, and into a world of self confidence and firm thighs.

Now, I’m a realist and I knew in order to achieve my lofty new goal, I would need to work up to running. So about a month ago, I started interval training on the treadmill. Run 30 seconds, walk 2 minutes. Repeat until gasping for air. Yes, I knew it was going to hurt a little, but I figured it’s 30 seconds. I can do anything for 30 seconds. I can hold my breath for 30 seconds. So off I went…ponytail in full swish mode.

Well dear FBG girls, I’m now four weeks in, down 130 bucks on primo running shoes (Runner’s World editor’s pick) and have purchased two “moderate support” knee braces, and have just been informed by my doctor that the nagging pain in my right knee that has plagued me for the past two weeks is not, as originally thought, a pulled muscle, but it is (get ready for it) a broken shin bone! That’s right ladies…my leg, is in fact, broken. And the dream dies.

So I write to you and your readers in desperate need of a little inspiration. In short, I need a pep talk. I can’t work out, I’m on crutches for the next 6 weeks, and I can literally HEAR myself getting fatter with each carb I eat. This is not the vision I had in my head. In my head I was fit, confident and breezy. Now I’m sedentary, insecure and neurotic. Help! I need a boost (and some suggestions on how I can incorporate crutches into a cardio workout). The buttercream is calling!

Hoping to hear some words of wisdom,

—Dream Runner (AKA Kristin)

Hello Dream Runner,

Thanks for your email! So sorry to hear about your injuries. Believe me, I understand. I am just now recovered from a running injury that happened in January, and I went through a pretty rough time during recovery. So what’s an injured girl like you to do? Anything you can, we say!

As someone who is on the other side of the injury tunnel (finally!), I would try to stay as positive as you can and see this as a time to try new things, focus on yourself and learn more about the motivation behind your goals. I would try a Pilates ab DVD (hoping you have enough mobility to do that) or a DVD with a really good upper-body only workout, such as Jackie Warner’s circuit-training DVD. You may also want to check into a new exercise trend called Kranking, which is like spinning but for your arms!

Another non-workout option is to try something like meditation. Sometimes the hardest part of being injured is your mind freaking out that you’ll gain weight or lose everything that you’ve worked for. Meditation helps quiet those thoughts and get you more in touch with you.

I would always remember though that it’s just six weeks. It may seem like an eternity now, but if this six weeks is getting you to be the best runner you can be later, it’s worth it, right? So don’t rush it. Listen to your body and it’ll reward you. You’ll be back out there before you know it. Promise!

Keep the running dream alive!

Jenn & Erin

Do you have tips for Kristin? Share them in the comments, please!

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  1. sarah says:

    I’ve gone through multiple running-related injuries and I’d say (if you have the mobility) the 2 best things to do are swim and find a yoga class that works for you. Swimming, even if just jogging around in the shallow end tires me out SO fast and swimming laps at a decent pace is even better. As for yoga-it took me a while to find a class that actually challenged me enough so that i felt tired at the end. Heated classes are awesome and any type of cardio or athletic base yoga classes are great as well.

  2. I was in a similar rut injuring my Achilles tendon 5 weeks before a marathon I had been training for over 6 month. ;( The best advice I could give is to echo the FBGs in staying positive. So much of what we accomplish is mental, and although your body can’t be all in, it’s important to keep you head in the game! Secondly, listen to your body and take it slow. A few pounds is never worth re-injuring yourself because you rushed back in.Sounds like you have already accomplished so much by becoming a runner! Keep it up and you will be back on track (no pun intended) in no time! I wish you the best!

  3. katrina m says:

    When you are healed and get the all clear from the dr, i recommend finding a program to follow. There are training programs DESIGNED to teach people to run who have never done it before. Maybe you pushed too hard too fast, who knows? But I followed an 8 week running program when I started running, and it was amazing. I started at 270 pounds and at the end ran my first 5k down about 40 pounds! Last year I even trained for a half marathon and completed it. You can do anything you put your mind to. If I can do it, anyone can.

    Many people like the couch to 5k program from Runners World. Personally I did another program which starts you out a little slower but still gets the same end result. You can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/2z94gd

    Good luck to you!!! Keep your chin up and read a lot of inspiring stories on line to keep you motivated! Maybe even look up a race next summer or spring that you can focus on training for once you are healed up!

  4. Hey Dream Runner –
    I think that what you are experiencing is more common that you may think … and, I believe that there are better ways to achieve that toned body and confident posture you desire without running … but, if you really want to run, familiarize yourself with the most common running injuries and cross train to prevent them from happening to you –Good luck! – Kerry

    5 Most Common Overuse Injuries in Runners:

    Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (pain under the knee cap)
    Most common runner’s injury. The primary symptom is pain under the kneecap. The pain may be just while running at first, but can progress to pain at rest as well.

    Risk factors for PFPS include: weak gluteus medius and imbalance in strength of quadriceps muscles (weak vastus medialis in comparison to vastus lateralis)

    Iliotibial Band Syndrome (lateral knee pain)
    Weak hip, seat, and even lower back muscles put one at greater risk of ITBS. Improving hip and lower back strength and working on quadriceps flexibility will help to prevent ITBS.

    Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)
    Poor ankle flexibility as well as tight hamstrings put one at greater risk for plantar fasciitis.

    Tibial Bone Strains (shin splints)
    To prevent injuries to the tibia, avoid overtraining or ramping up your training routine too quickly. Additionally, improving the strength and balance of strength in the muscles of the lower leg and improving ankle mobility / flexibility through stretching will decrease the strain on the tibia during impact.

    Achilles Tendinosis (pain/stiffness at the back of the ankle)
    Older runners and higher speed runners seem to be at greater risk of Achilles tendinosis. Calf muscle strengthening exercises have shown to be the most effective way to treat and prevent Achilles tendonosis.

    5 Things You Can Do To Prevent These Injuries:

    • Stretch sufficiently for equal strength and flexibility in each muscle group
    • Strengthen your hips to prevent knee injury
    • Strengthen your upper body to improve posture and balance and to prevent fatigue
    • Improve lower leg strength and ankle mobility to reduce impact injuries
    • Learn which muscles are over and under-trained in running and be sure to balance the strength in each muscle group with an efficient cross-training program

    Kerry Corcoran
    Co-owner / manager
    The Dailey Method Berkeley