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 with each step. 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 Gebrsellasie, 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.

Back to minimal shoes and no pain

Today I ran in a pair of my flat, minimalist shoes for the first time in about a month. For several days after my injury, I was thinking I might never run again, so to be able to run 6 miles in these shoes is pretty remarkable. My ankle feels as good as new.

I think one of the things I may have been doing wrong that contributed to the injury has to do with posture. I’ve talked about directing your gaze down to help keep the head back over the shoulders. I think I may have been dropping my head too much, which resulted in kind of “running myself into the ground” and causing too much pounding with each step. I think it’s better to simply think of dropping our gaze 10-15 ft. ahead, without putting our head down too much. I still think that looking up and out draws our head out, pulling our posture out of alignment. It seems that it’s possible to go too far the other direction.

7 miles and ankle still fine

I took a day off after the 5K. Today I ran seven and didn’t feel a thing from my ankle. I think it’s pretty amazing that I can run again so soon after that injury. I thought I tore my achilles tendon or something. You wouldn’t believe how much it hurt. I could barely walk and had to hold my foot out sideways strangely for a couple of days. I limped around for over a week before I kind of taught myself how to walk smoothly again. I think learning how to walk correctly, along with resting helped me get back to running relatively quickly. I’ve been concentrating on all of the form things I talk about, and so far things are going well. I’ll try it again tomorrow…

A confession…

As you have probably noticed, I have not blogged in a while. Almost 4 weeks ago, I entered a 5K during a period in which I was running a lot. I had been feeling a small pain in my right ankle in the 3 days leading up to the race, but ignored it, because I was also preparing for a marathon later in June.

On the day of the 5K, I decided to wear my Newton MV3s, even though I’ve had my doubts about them. They feature a forefoot that is actually slightly higher than the heel. This, combined with so much running in zero-drop, minimal shoes I think caused big problems during the race. My ankle began to hurt so bad that I dropped out of the race halfway through. I was still thinking that I might possibly run the marathon.

After the race, as the day progressed, my ankle swelled up horribly, and I had enormous trouble walking. Unfortunately, I had to take my son to a baseball game that night, so I had to hobble around on my bad leg all evening. I continued to gimp along very, very slowly for about a week. I never saw a doctor, and went back to my one-legged balancing exercises and other exercises of my own devising to try and fix the damage.

After about two weeks, I finally ran a little during a period of 4 days. The ankle was still tender, so I let it rest some more. I have been resting it ever since.

Yesterday, a co-worker asked if I was still running and mentioned that he was doing a 5K. I told him I was taking a break because of my ankle, but after considering it a bit, decided I would run the 5K today. My ankle has been feeling as good as it normally did, so I figured I would just take it easy today and see how things went.

I felt good this morning and ended up finishing in 20:55. Not bad for almost a month off. The ankle feels good still, and I plan on resuming my normal running schedule Sunday. Well, I may back off the mileage a bit. I missed the marathon, and don’t have another planned for the foreseeable future. I may do more shorter races soon, however. It was fun getting back at it again today.