Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Wed, 24 May 2000 08:51:52 -0400

Tougher Tendons

(from RC 302)

If the best advertising is one person telling another, then runners are a marketer's dream. We love telling each other what works -- and, by extension, writing about it.

I talk often with Mark Winitz, in person and online. He lives in my old hometown of Los Altos, California, and both of us once worked at the old Runner's World office in neighboring Mountain View.

Mark still writes about the sport and has helped promote several events I've attended in recent years. But we share even more than those business links.

He's a fellow sufferer of heel problems. Two years ago and then again last year when I saw him at a race, Mark couldn't run on his sore achilles tendons and tried not to limp while walking.

"Actually," he said, "I had about over 20 years of unusually healthy running and racing until my mid-40s, when I hit the achilles roadblock. There were times when I thought I might never run again."

He learned, though, that in this new age of medicine and knowledge about the human body, it's wise to never say 'never'."

When the subject of my heel pains appeared in my newsletter, Mark updated me on his condition. "My achilles tendons (both) are well healed and solid," he said.

He spread the credit among "Dr. Warren Scott's care and treatment over the years, smarter training and glucosamine sulfate/chondroitin supplementation." That supplement with the tongue-bending name -- let's reduce it to "glu-chon" -- caught my attention.

Achilles injuries have been with me longer than running has. My original one traces back to basketball at age 12.

Glu-chon interests me as much for its future possibilities as for historic reasons. It's advertised as an arthritis reliever, and I have a powerful family history with that affliction.

I asked for Mark Winitz's advice. Dosage? Side-effects? Results? Cost?

"I take a combination tablet composed of 500 milligrams 'gluco' and 400 mg. 'chon'," he reported. "Taking the recommended three tablets a day since last May, I've noticed no side-effects."

He took these tablets for more than a month before feeling any relief from pain. He warned that glu-chon isn't cheap. The brand he uses costs 75 cents per daily dose.

Mark supplements the supplement with another possible tendon-toughener. "There is evidence that unflavored gelatin works in a similar fashion to gluco-chon by helping to build collagen and strengthen connective tissue," he wrote.

He stirs a packet of the gelatin into his morning orange juice. Again, he said, the tendon benefits from drinking this concoction aren't apparent for a month to six weeks.

Mark Winitz took a run with me in Oakland. His long-lasting injuries had vanished.

He ran smoothly and fairly long, and talked of racing again soon. This told me more about the value of glu-chon than all the ad claims and scientific studies combined.

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