Before I injured my knee my life was scheduled around training and races. I was never very fast but the sense of personal accomplishment that came from crossing the Finish Line after putting in the hours of training made every mile worth it. Until I tore my ACL and my running was put to a very quick and hard stop. Fast forward through 4 surgeries, the final one being a total knee replacement, and I’m ready to get back out there. But returning to running after a knee replacement isn’t as easy as lacing up my sneakers and heading out the door.
After a Knee Replacement, It’s All About Leg Strength
Because I’ve been going through this for 2 years my leg muscles have gone and I’ve lost all the endurance I had built my lungs up to. So before I can run I have to walk. They say every journey begins with a single step and in my case, nothing could be truer.
Working with my Physical Therapists and Doctor, before I could even start dreaming of a race, I had to get my knee bend and straightening to a certain point before they would even allow me to look at the treadmill. This meant a lot of miles on the stationary bike, leg presses, and a thousand other leg exercises all with the goal of making my leg stronger.
Once I received their approval the journey was just beginning. Now it was time to create a plan while continuing with my strengthening exercises. Starting slowly I began walking, and little by little built up my walking distance. I started out at around a 30-minute mile and have been able to chip the time down to around a 22-minute mile for 2 miles.
The Training Plan
Once I hit two miles I worked with my therapist to create a 15-week training plan to do a 5k. Because of the total knee replacement, they want me to do intervals, which are what Disney Marathon Trainer Jeff Galloway recommends. I know that I have 15 weeks to get below a 16 minute per mile pace for the 5k so we broke the plan into 2 parts. The first part is increasing my walking pace and building my endurance and then the second part is adding the intervals.
15 Week 5k Comeback Training Plan
Since I’m currently able to do 2 miles in 45 minutes, at 22 min mile pace that was where we started. Each week I’ll get in 3 sessions with a pace goal to reach by the end of the week dropping 30 seconds each week from my pace.
Week 15 – 2 x 2 mile walks goal pace 21 min mile. Note, this week I am walking an Ovarian Cancer 5k on Saturday, the goal is to finish in under an hour
Week 14 – 3 x 2 mile walks, goal pace 20.5 min mileWeek 13 – 2 x 2 mile walks, goal pace 20 min mile
Week 12 – 3 x 2 mile walks, goal pace 19.5 min mileWeek 11 – 2 x 2 mile walks, goal pace 19 min mile
Week 10 – 3 x 2 mile walks, goal pace 18.5 min mile
Week 9 – 2 x 2 mile walks, goal pace 18 min mile
Week 8 – 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 17.5 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 2 min walk
Week 7 – 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 17 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 90 sec walk
Week 6 – 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 16.5 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 75 sec walk
Week 5 – 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 16 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 1 min walk
Week 4 – 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 15.5 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 1 min walk
Week 3 – 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 15 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 45 sec walk
Week 2- 3 x 2 mile run/walks, goal pace 15 min mile-intervals 30 sec run, 45 sec walk
Week 1 – Race week, the race is on a Wednesday so I’ll do at least 2 walks that week.
Let’s get training!