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

Wed, 31 May 2000 09:01:34 -0400

On Glu-Chon

(from RC 303; continuing a discussion begun here last week)

Testimonials came rushing back to me the same day the item on glucosamine-chondroitin supplements went into my newsletter. One of the first came from a giant in women's running history.

Jacqueline Hansen was the first woman to break 2:45 and 2:40 (in separate races) in the marathon. She was the second official winner at Boston. She was a prime mover (as leader of the International Runners Committee) for a women's Olympic race.

Now 51 and living in Topanga, California, Jacqueline hasn't been able to run much in recent years. She tells why:

"After knee surgery I had retired 'for good' and learned to swim, joining the local masters' swim team. I never could get back into running, because the pain was too great and having my swollen knees drained frequently finally proved too much to bear."

As a past winner she was invited to the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996. Running there wasn't required of her, but the lure of it "overcame all my intentions to remain retired."

One problem: An injury far from her knees and unrelated to running was troubling her. She'd hurt a shoulder in a fall down stairs.

She writes, "Concerned about missing swim workouts and bent on running that Boston, I just went to an acupuncturist to control the pain while continuing to train. (How old do we have to be to learn?) It was the acupuncturist who informed me about the glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin supplements."

No harm in trying it, she thought. "With my pool running regimen, mixed with swimming and land running and the new-found supplements, I made it to -- and through -- Boston."

She found out how well glu-chon had worked when she stopped taking it. "I was going through shoulder surgery and was focused on that therapy instead of running," she says. After recovering, I thought I'd start running again, believing I could now do anything.

"Wrong. The knees were just as much a problem as ever. I remembered the supplements, started taking them again, was running in a month, pain free, and am still running to this day."


TAKING GLU-CHON is nothing new to runners. I knew of its widespread use, but needed a nudge from people I knew and trusted before trying it myself.

Mark Winitz (see 5/24/00 web) was my first convincer. Then came the support above from Jacqueline Hansen.

Now I hear from Bob Wischnia. As a longtime editor at Runner's World, "Wish" talks as many runners than I do and sees more stories about the sport. He also has had at least as many injuries.

But even "Wish" was slow to buy into the glu-chon rage. "You and I must have been the last runners in country never to have tried this supplement," he writes.

"After a bout with a torn soleus [calf] muscle that failed to heal, Bart Yasso at RW told me about it, and I started taking it. I quickly learned everyone's taking it -- every older runner anyway. The older you get, the less glucosamine your body naturally produces -- thus, the harder it is to recover from muscle injuries.

"Is this stuff a wonder supplement? I don't know. But I can run semi-comfortably again and will continue taking it."

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