Still running…

Because I’ve been so busy with work, my weekly mileage has been kind of moderate. Even after my recent ankle problem, I still prefer minimalist shoes, and do most of my runs in them. Today it was a totally flat shoe with very little cushioning called the Samson, made by Altra. Tomorrow, I’m going to wear the very minimal Mizuno Wave Universe 5.

I still believe that the less shoe you wear, the more likely you are to adopt better form. A lighter, less cushioned shoe will encourage you to run with less of a heel strike and a quicker cadence. This should help reduce the chance of injury. So far, I’m still pain-free.

Why I might know what I’m talking about

Occasionally I think it might be a good idea to list my running accomplishments. Though they may be modest compared to some, I think my fairly rapid progress demonstrates that I might have some good ideas about running form. My race history can be viewed here:

If you click the link, you’ll see how much racing I’ve done in a short period of time, without injury, for the most part (my recent bout I blame mainly on wearing the negative-drop Newton shoes too much). Among other things, I ran 5 marathons and 6 halfs over the course of a year, dropping my time to 3:31 for the full, and 1:37 for the half. You’ll also see that during the roughly 2 years I’ve been running, I improved my 5K time from 28:54 to 19:44.

Again, I know many people are much faster than I am, but I think I’ve done pretty well considering I started this while basically middle-aged. I think I’m a good example of what a fairly average athlete can accomplish by paying attention to their form.

More pain-free running and another video of “bad form”

After a few days off because of work, I ran 7.5 miles (about an hour) today. Everything still feels great, so what I’m doing must be working.

My last post showed a world-class runner overpronating. Here’s another video of a great Kenyan runner, Priscah Jeptoo. She recently won the NYC marathon. In the video you can see that she appears knock-kneed, and at about 15 seconds in, you can clearly see how much her ankles collapse inward, especially her right.

So how does she keep from getting injured? Well, she clearly demonstrates the kind of arm carriage and motion I advocate. She keeps her arms up and very bent, helping to set up a similar, sympathetic bending in the knees which helps reduce shock. She also sweeps her arms down across her chest in a relaxed, natural manner. This helps offset the twisting forces in her lower body, I believe. In addition, in slow motion you can clearly see that her feet make full contact with the ground, letting her settle and achieve balance on both sides. She then pronates, which I believe acts as a sort of shock-absorbing mechanism. I should also add that at full speed, you can see that her cadence is fairly high. As I’ve mentioned in the past, a quick cadence is probably the most important aspect of good form.

Still pain-free and thoughts on running “lightly”

I ran 7.5 today, and the same amount yesterday. The ankle is not a problem and seems completely healed. No problems anywhere else either.

I’ve seen many running experts advocate running in a manner in which our feet barely touch the ground. They say that we should strive to keep our feet on the ground as little as possible. The idea, of course, is that running “lightly” will help reduce injuries.

I think that most injuries are caused by being slightly off balance. If we try to mince along, not letting our feet settle, I think we’re more likely to be just a little off balance with each step. Being like this over many miles might add up to injury.

Watch this video of the great Ethiopian runner, Haile Gebrselassie, and tell me if you think he’s trying to tread lightly:

Still feeling lucky to be running

When I injured myself a month ago, I was almost convinced that my running days were over. I always thought that I might reach a point where my body suddenly broke down (I still think it is possible). The fact that my injury also made walking difficult made me wonder if running so much was foolish.

I should also add that I didn’t really miss running that much during this period. I take that as a good sign. I would hate to think I have developed an unhealthy obsession with this activity.

After a while I started to heal, and figured out how to walk without a limp. I then began to think perhaps it was possible to consider running again.

Now I’m back and have been in two races already. I ran 6.5 today and really enjoyed it. I’m still amazed I can do this again so soon, and feel lucky to be pain-free. Like I said, I still think things may fall apart at some point, but if they do, at least I know I can handle it without feeling stir-crazy or depressed. I also know that I’ll probably be able to bounce back from it like I did this time.

Another 5K

Ran a 5K in rainy, muggy conditions this morning. The course also had a steep hill and a couple of long, slow uphills. This added up to a slower time this weekend of 21:05. I still managed to place first in my age group and fourteenth overall. I’m also happy to report that my ankle seems to be completely cured, as there is no pain or swelling in that area.

A few days ago, I was feeling a little bit of crunching in my right knee. I have been mainly wearing more cushioned shoes lately, so I was thinking perhaps my form has not been as good. My cadence has not been quite as quick as usual, and I might have been landing on a straight leg and heel striking a little. This may have stressed my knee somewhat.

To counter this, for the last couple of days, I’ve been making sure to keep my arms up, with a pronounced bend at the elbow. Keeping the arms bent like this seems to produce a sympathetic bending reaction in the legs, which helps absorb shock and produces less strain on the knees. The knee has stopped feeling crunchy and was not an issue today.