Don’t Call it Running…

Hey, how’s it going? Haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve still been running. I’ve done many races and had one injury. I was experimenting with something different with my form (I don’t remember now what it was) and my entire right leg started hurting. I joked with my son that my leg was painful “from here (pointing to my ankle) to here (pointing to my hip).” I rested it for a month, but it still hurt after that time. I started running again anyway, paying attention to my form, and the pain disappeared after a few days. This approach of “therapy through good form” seems to work for me.

So what does this title mean? I think that too many people think of “running” as something that involves effort and straining. That’s why so many people kind of dread going for their run, and have to force themselves to train, and then suffer through the big race they signed up for. I never wanted running to be like this. I figure, if it feels bad, why do it?

I think we need to rethink how we describe what we do when we go out for our run around the neighborhood, and even how we describe what we do in races. Most people would probably describe two basic types of upright human locomotion: walking and running. I think there is a third type in between the two.

Running should describe what we do over a relatively short distance to escape danger, or perhaps to chase someone or something in order to catch them. You could also call it sprinting. This activity involves a rapid expenditure of energy, which cannot be sustained for very long. It may also cause the form to become sloppy and wasteful in an effort to gain more speed.

It has been helpful for me to think of what I do as “trotting.” It seems like a simple thing, but just thinking of it this way helps me automatically adopt good form. We can all imagine the sort of “clip clop” cadence of trotting horses. This is the kind of gait they can sustain forever, and obviously differs from a true running gait, yet they are still moving along fairly quickly. Certainly much faster than a horse wandering around a field. So thinking of it like this, those three types of locomotion are clear.

Thinking of going out for a trot instead of a run automatically makes our steps quick and under our center of mass, preventing the dreaded overstriding heelstrike which puts the brakes on a little with each step. Trotting helps keep our movements compact, preventing wasted motion in our gait.

People used to call this jogging, but that term has fallen out of favor, I guess because it doesn’t sound cool enough for most people. Anyway, jogging is also a good way to think of what we do, because again, it prevents us from thinking we need to “run” and try too hard. I think I’ll stick with trotting, though, because it seems to work quickly to correct any feeling over overexertion. And I’m all about easy, of course. In order to really train properly, most of our runs should be in the easy effort range anyway.

I may write more about this later. I think I’ve done enough for now.



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