An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fully commit to your running, not every step

I noticed something a couple days ago, and I'll get to that in a minute.

I was pretty pleased that I passed the 48-hour mark after signing up for a race and not getting hurt. So far, it's been a week, and I'm still good to go for the trail run this Sunday. Eric, however, wasn't so lucky. He had signed up the day before I did, wanting to do the half-marathon option (I'm doing the 10K). Last Wednesday, he twisted his ankle during our lunchtime run. Honestly, I didn't touch him! There was no sabotage involved.

But it's not going to keep him from doing the event. We went out to the race venue and tried to navigate our way around the race course (as much as we could decipher from the map we had), ending up at just over 10 miles.

I noticed something about the way Eric ran vs. myself, and something about the difference finally struck home.

Eric is a heel striker. That in itself isn't necessarily bad. He bought a pair of the New Balance Minimus Roads a while back, but the transition was a bit overwhelming at the time. He works on it, and his cadence has come up a lot this year. This is also the second time it's happened to him this year, now having matching hinky ankles, right and left.

Also, I noticed that Eric doesn't hitch up his stride when he steps on a rock, root, odd rut, or whatnot. My stride is in a constant state of change, pulling up (like pulling a punch) when I sense that putting my full weight on my foot is going to cause a problem, and getting my other foot under me immediately.

I told Eric about my thoughts on Monday. I explained it as this: by fully committing all your weight to that foot landing right there, you can't compensate, can't pull up and catch yourself before it causes an injury. Whatever the landing is going to do, once your foot touches the ground, you've passed the point of no return and from there... you deal with it. You're committed. Fully.

One of the things that a higher cadence, shorter, non-overstriding form does is delay that point to where you can pull back before injury happens.

Ground feel has a lot to do with this as well. One of the things that the minimalist and barefoot runners will harp on is ground feel -- the only way to really feel what's underfoot is to remove what's between you and the ground. My most-used shoes recently are the Altra Instinct, which are not a minimal shoe by any means, but they do afford better ground feel than a lot of the market out there.

I'm NOT saying all this to say I'm so great. There are people that absolutely blow my doors off with the terrain they traverse with no ill affects. And I hurt my foot in a trail run earlier this spring by doing just this. A downhill turn in a darkened area, one step that I committed to a little too much, and my foot was in enough pain that I abandoned the race.

Stay committed to your running, fully, but leave yourself some wiggle and pull-back room in your steps.

No comments: