My personal story of collagen and joint pain/injury

I have been active for long as I can remember.

From bulldozing my way through ballet lessons to being the first girl on my little league team to racing downhill skiing as a teen, I was on the go since the minute I could move, says my mother. All of that early activity led me to years of competitive sport playing around the globe. We all know the benefits of activity but that overuse and wear and tear was taking a hidden toll on my joints. Blissfully unaware, in my 30s, I took to running as my career made it simpler to pack a pair of running shoe then find a gym in new cities.

I noticed in my early 40s that running was becoming difficult due to knee and hip pain. This pain became so severe that I sought a running coach, an osteo, a physio and ultimately medical help and began prep for knee surgery. My doctor was very clear that whilst surgery may repair some of the damage, a life of activity had left me, well damaged. Surgery would not leave me pain free and that running as a fitness option was off the table if I wanted to continue an active lifestyle.

So as often as I could, I relied on the gym, a trainer, and a myriad of fitness equipment to try to recreate the cardio benefits of running. As any busy working mother will tell you, squeezing gym time into your daily schedule when you are the last priority in that line-up is difficult at best. I noticed that the benefits I had experienced running ie, weight loss/weight maintenance was becoming more difficult to achieve in the gym but any endeavour to run left me in pain and hobbling for days, so sadly I gave up running and my favourite skinny jeans for nearly 3 1/2 years.

I don’t know what you were doing in late March of 2020, but I suddenly found myself with loads of time on my hands. As part of my government mandated fitness allowance, I ushered my children onto bicycles and began to follow them on foot as they cycled on the blissfully traffic-free roads of rural Buckinghamshire. What had changed however, was the speed at which those children cycle – a refreshing fast paced walk soon turned into a jaunty jog which then turned into a terror filled sprint when they neared an intersection. Now, my normal Sherlock-esque lightning deduction skills might have been a little dulled in the mindless monotony of repetitive days & too much wine, but after about a week, I noticed that I didn’t hurt, I wasn’t limping and I was able to dash and grab the back of my daughter’s jumper before she glided into a roundabout, day after day with ease.

I had gained quite the quarantine belly (hips and thighs also apply) during those heady days of lock down 1 and I needed desperately to shed them before all those amazing holiday celebrations I was planning in my head at year’s end. Problem, the gyms were closed so, with some trepidation, I returned to running. But I had gained a new super power, I was packing a prior 2 months of daily collagen supplementation.

Flashback – I’m a sucker for science-lead white papers, don’t judge, it’s how I pass my time. Over the years had been delving into research on the benefits of supplemental collagen. I had become aware of the trend about 6 to 7 years ago whilst commuting bi-monthly to Los Angeles. Blurry-eyed and jet lagged, I walked into the kitchen of the office and made a coffee then frantically searched for milk. Finally after what seemed ages, I gave up and asked a colleague where it was trying to remove the sharpness from my voice.  He, in his ‘overly casual for the office, but hey we’re in LA’ demeanour, just looked at me in a quizzical fashion. He then replied we don’t use milk we put collagen powder in our coffee. Of course you do, you gorgeously glowing man! I returned to the UK desperately seeking out collagen supplements and pining away for that dewy LA skin.

This is where lockdown 1 really paid it forward, I had time, precious time to return to formulating, research and testing. As an active woman of 48 years, I want to look and feel great – so I worked on products solely for my own benefit. What I found over lock down 1 and lock down 2 (didn’t see that one coming) was that I reluctantly and then actively returned to running. I now run at least 30km a week – sometimes more if its been a particularly trying home learning time – and I feel better than I did running in my 20s and no one is more shocked then me. Like many active people in the middle years, I expected to just live with pain, paring back many activities that I loved. I never expected to run as a fitness of choice again.

Hello skinny jeans, I’m looking at you (wink wink), might see you around this summer!