Monday, February 10, 2014

Falling in love all over again

Previously, I was certain that the "no pain, no gain" premise of exercise was not for me. (Cow milk is another thing that is not for me, but...)

Back then, I would rather watch a Rebecca Black video 5 times back to back than admit that maybe, possibly, my certainty that running as a fitness activity was not for me was because I was doing it wrong.

How is it possible for a former high school sprinter to get running wrong?

For one, sprinters and middle- to long-distance runners are taught to run differently. A sprinter tends to use a forefoot strike, landing on the ball of the foot before pushing off with the toes. The speed at which a sprinter has to run lends itself to this movement.

On the contrary, longer-distance runners tend to have a heel-to-toe foot motion (heel strike). You can't sprint 3 km (though the African runners ghosting past you very well look as if they are), so you don't need the sprinter-type footstrike.

(That said, some people forefoot strike naturally, though heel strikers outnumber them.)

The other thing is that I overstrode, which doesn't work out when you want to run farther than 400 m or longer than 5 minutes. I imagine that this occurred because I still had the idea of running like a sprinter even though I was moving much more slowly. 

Unfortunately, the effect of overstriding and forefoot striking is that you wind up with knee pain and back pain and the firm idea that running is not for you.

Following a heated discussion with Enfant Terrible ("You're running wrong!" "How can that be, I was a school runner!"), I went back to heel striking with a medium stride. Now I would say that running is for everyone as long as you do it right.

P.S. Mincing your steps can also lead to pain, as will shoes that don't fit correctly. Buy shoes that feel comfortable, not those that the salesperson promises will stretch with use.


Snuze said...

I like the idea of running, but I think I'm too heavy and may injure my knee.

*alasan demi alasan*

Angela Gripesalot said...

I might have just the thing for you (eheheheh)...

Lyn Kong's Guide to Fitness for Busy People:

She's a buddy of mine from school who's hulked out, sorry, transformed into some sort of motivational cross-fitting trainer type. Don't tell her I said that though.