Achilles Tendonitis – Running substitute

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  • #30084


    I was diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis way back in April. Took a few months off, did physio, and thought things were headed on the right track. Did a 2:1 walk run last week, and Achilles started bugging (and continues to do so).

    I’d like to start the 24 week program, but noticed that running is a pretty big part of it. Is there any way I can attempt the program without running for at least the first 8 weeks or so? What are some of the things I can substitute running with? Uphill walking? Cycling? Rowing?

    Greatly appreciate any advice or input you can provide.


Posted In: Injury & Rehab

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    MarkPostle on #30198


    Certainly you can substitute other modalities of aerobic training that may be easier on your achilles especially in the early weeks of the training plan. As your goal date gets closer the more sport specific the activity the better. Rowing and cycling are the least ideal as they arent truly weight bearing BUT they might also aggravate your injury the least. I would do some gentle experimentation to see what works. I’ve also had some luck with folks using the stair stepper machine instead of hiking hills or incline treadmill when coming back from achilles issues.


    Pete Dickinson MS,PT on #30209

    Sorry to hear about your achilles, its so frustrating when this gets in the way of your training. Continued pain with running tells me the good part of your tendon isn’t yet strong enough to handle the load of running. A proper focus and progression into loaded calf raise holds 5x45sec. will start the long process of strengthening. Some temporary increase in pain is expected 2/10, but you should be able to gradually progress loads into single leg work, then more dynamic strength.


    DerekB on #30304

    Mark, Pete,

    Many thanks for your responses. I’ll experiment with different cardio, including stair stepper and start incorporating daily strengthening workouts. Hopefully that should resolve the issue by the new year. I should note that I’m preparing for a 12 day mountaineering class, and not an actual Denali climb. Hopefully that provides somewhat more of a wiggle room to push running and other intensive cardio a few weeks back. Thanks again!

    DerekB on #30395

    Just one quick follow-up. Is there a particular ratio (re time spent) I should use while substituting another aerobic exercise for running? If the program says run for 30 minutes, and I’m using the stair stepper or incline treadmill walking, should I do that for 45 mins? An hour? Many thanks!

    MarkPostle on #30396

    Good question. No hard and fast rules here but For folks that are recovering from injury I tend to use the original time prescribed for treadmill or stairs. For elliptical I’ll use a multiplier of 1.25 and for cycling 1.5. So a 60 minute run would be a 90 minute ride. Folks that do a lot of cycling and are riding on the road can extend even more out to double the footbourne time but 1.5 is a good place to start. Pete may have slightly different ratios based on his experience.


    DerekB on #30513

    Thanks very much for that helpful response, Mark. I bought the 24 week plan and it turns out that there is an option to either run OR hike. Running isn’t mandatory, and that helps a ton. Looking forward to training. Thanks again!

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