Thursday, October 30, 2014


For me, the first 1-2 kilometers of running are a battle to warm up and settle down. Every sensible bone I have (and my lungs) demands that I stop the insanity and go back to bed, because that's what you do at 630-ish AM, especially on weekends.

I keep running of course, because it'd be embarrassing to turn back so soon and because Enfant Terrible and our brother in law have pulled ahead and I don't want to run too far behind in the dark.

I really should get one of those LED safety clip-on blinking lights.

Before I realize it, I'm not thinking about how stupidly hard it is to run anymore, but other things, like the blinky light. And oh, here's a wee dead mouse. There's a person wearing a blinky light coming from the opposite direction. Usually, it's a white guy, and we exchange smiles and nods.

It's not that I run in a cocoon. I feel the road under my shoes, and I pretend that I'm in the Cormac McCarthy story, the one where Aragorn takes a long, depressing road trip. A creature in the tree cries out; alarmed, or a warning to others?

On another route, I make it a (sad) game of avoiding the inevitable dog turds, occasional shards of glass, and suspicious clumps. I trod on a flyblown rat once.

Elsewhere, we run past a copse of rubber trees and the smell of something rotting wafts out.

Over time, I'm sure we'll remember which parts of the hedge are used as pissoirs by the guards at the golf course (srsly, where else can they go?).

Everything ends eventually, naturally. The sun comes up, we take the return route back, and our attention is drawn inwards, just putting one foot in front of the other without stopping.

Also, there will be roti canai.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Running epiphany

A while back, I wrote what I still think is a simple, direct piece about the types of footstrike used when running. If you read it, let me assure you that putting theory into practice takes some, er, practice, even for a former sprinter like me. Maybe especially for former sprinters.

You land on your forefoot when you sprint because of the momentum. Unfortunately for me, I was under the impression I was midfoot striking. Turns out I was still forefoot striking, the unnecessary impact resulting in pain in the tops of my feet, ankles, and the bit near my heels. Also knee ache. And backache. And the returning thought that maybe running wasn't for me.

In my desire to avoid heel striking, I overcompensated in the other direction and suffered as a result.

Maybe 2 months ago (?), I was forefoot striking my way through the Lake Gardens (on the cement paths no less)* and wondering when my feet would become wonderfully strong and not hurt any more.

I became more miserable with every step, and finally decided to hell with the "midfoot" strike, I'd heel strike. Sadly, heel striking is uncomfortable for me too, but was definitely quieter than my mistaken idea of midfoot striking.

Eventually, I realized that there was still the middle portion of my foot that actually hadn't been involved in the running thus far, and tried landing on that.

O SWEET RELIEF AND JOY, that was what had eluded me all this time. This was midfoot striking, and it felt right. People must've wondered why I was grinning like a loon for the rest of the evening.

Since then, I've been running as happily as Brooks says runners should, except for the bit where I'm supposed to complete 10 kilometers in under 70 minutes. Cry.

So, if your feet and everything hurt when running, and it just doesn't feel right, try something else. At the risk of oversimplifying things, the footstrike that is quietest and causes no pain is right for you.

*The impact on your knees when running on cement is up to 6 times greater than that for running on the road, which itself exerts more impact than running on grass, though it's a different story if you get sucked into a mud puddle.