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Muscle Memory, Weight, and Adaptability.

Does anyone out there know what exactly muscle memory is and how it works? I used to run 10ks back over 10 years ago and just started walking/jogging again and am up to walking/jogging up to 4 miles. My legs seemed to be adapting and recovering quickly despite my heavy weight 207 pounds. I want to push myself harder but am scared to injure myself since I still weigh 207 pounds and was told that folks shouldn't run long distances until they are 199 pounds or less. My question is will my "muscle memory" will allow me to extend my running to longer distances sooner than later? Or should I just keep doing what I am doing which is walking- jogging. I have ran/walked up to 70 minutes and still felt like I could keep going but again don't want to injure myself. At what point do you know you are ready to run for a whole mile without stopping? I really don't want to screw this up and am training for a 5k coming up with October 13, 2007. Can use any help out there! Getting antsy and want to take my training to the next level and really start shedding these pounds.

Sat. Aug 4, 9:09am

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Good for you! I'm no expert, but I think muscle memory refers more to not getting much out of your exercise if you've been doing things, at the same rate, in the same order, etc. (i.e., you're not challenging yourself so your exercise no longer has the same benefits as it once did.) You're wise to ease into running - as prematurely pushing yourself can lead to injury. When I take a long hiatus from running, I usually ease back into it by doing intervals (any combination of 9 minutes walking and running - 3 minutes run, 6 minutes walking, for example.) The longer my walking intervals, the more distance I can cover, and I eventually work myself up to 8 minutes running (which gets me close to running 1 mile without stopping.) You have plenty of time to train for this race - check out for tips beginners and how to increase mileage safely. It's a great resource and you can get great input from runners!

Saturday, August 04, 2007, 9:28 AM

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I've had 2 lifelong competitive runners and 2 personal trainers with 10+ years' health industry experience give me the same advice about taking up running in ways that will minimize your chances of injury (shin splints, stress fractures, knee pain, spinal misalignment, etc):

1) In the first year, don't shoot for distances greater than 10K
2) It's better to take up running after you've developed a decent level of fitness through lower-impact activities like cycling, elliptical, dance, etc.
3) Make sure you spend time on your upper body in the gym to prevent creating a strength/structure disparity.
4) It's normal to feel that you can do more than you're doing as part of a training program (I was doing couch-to-5K), but don't - your body needs more time to adjust than you think.
5) Don't scrimp on stretching, and consider crosstraining with yoga.

What convinced me about all of this advice is watching The Biggest Loser. They make those morbidly obese people run, and whenever they do follow-ups during that interim where they lose on their own, an awful lot of them get stress fractures in their feet and stuff like that. I waited until my BMI dropped under 30 (the dividing line between overweight and obese).

Saturday, August 04, 2007, 1:23 PM

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