Monday, September 5, 2011

Learning to Run and Having Fun

I recently read the book "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall.  I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the book...I couldn't put it down.  As entertaining as the book was, the story starts with a simple question.  "Why does my foot hurt?" 

I've been asking myself similar questions for a few years now.   Why do my ankles hurt?  Why do my knees hurt?  Why does my foot hurt?  Why?

This excerpt from his website pretty much sums up what I'm feeling:

". . . I’d abracadabra myself from a broken-down ex-runner into an unbreakable, unstoppable, ultrarunning dirt demon. I was at least partially correct: the secret to injury-free running isn't the proper shoe. It isn't stretching. It isn't even training mileage.

It's skill.

Like every other sport, healthy running is all about technique.

But why hadn’t I ever heard that before?

All I ever heard, over and over, was about shoes. Every podiatrist, sports physician, and running magazine preached endlessly about the absolute necessity of corrective footwear. I was never told what to do; I was only told what to buy. "

Imagine that.   I've been a sucker for marketing yet again.  I even wrote a blog a few months back about how many different shoes I had tried and how excited I was for my latest pair.  I eagerly strapped on those new kicks and started pounding out the miles, assured by my "research" that I had finally found the solution to my problems.  Two weeks later I had pounded my knees into such pain I  couldn't walk without a limp for over a month, and it was almost two months before I could jog again without my right knee killing me.

It was clearly the fact that I had bought the wrong shoes.  Yep, of course it had nothing to do with me, only those damn shoes!

Then Chris McDougall had to bring reality crashing in on me.  It wasn't my shoes, it was me.  Like so many other runners out there I was running wrong.  My cadence was too slow and stride far too long, resulting in some serious heel striking going on.  Naturally when I switched to my new minimalist shoes that I thought were the solution to my problems, my heel striking form crushed my lower body into oblivion with the lessened cushioning of the shoes.

After finishing "Born to Run" I really started reading up on proper form. 

This is a good starting point, pretty much where I started a couple weeks ago.  Over the past two weeks.  I've run consistently almost every day.  I've really focused on my form and nothing else.  What I found is that I haven't had any pain at all, none. 

Another thing I've noticed is that I'm actually faster taking shorter faster strides landing on my midfoot than I am with a longer stretched out stride (thanks high school track coaches for constantly encouraging to "stretch out my stride"). 

It's definitely not an easy transition, and the longer I run and the more tired I get, I can feel my body trying to slink into my old lazy form.  I really have to focus hard at those times.  I'm training my body how to run all over again, and its refreshingly fun.   Three weeks until Beachpalooza, Five until Tough Mudder!