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.

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