I’m running daily now, about 3 miles a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. It’s hard to describe what it feels like. It’s been so long since I’ve felt that daily grind, that soreness in the calf muscle, that tightness in the leg muscles. It feels great!
But, I also have to acknowledge that it’s a baby step. And, counter intuitively, it’s much more work than I remember. When you’ve been away from that daily run for awhile (in my case, a full six months) ~ everything atrophies. I haven’t gained a ton of weight or anything, I haven’t “let myself go” by just sitting around and not exercising. Yet, over time, the ability to rapidly propel yourself forward, the specific set of muscles that work in concert to get you to go full speed ahead…they don’t do very well at coordinating their movements.
So what I’m left with is an awkward motion. I think this is why a lot of people don’t like running….because they don’t do it enough to get past this ungraceful stage. They labor more than they would if they’d been efficient. So, the self fulfilling prophecy exists in running: the more you run the more you like to do it because you get better at it…the less you run the harder it is to break through the first attempts, thereby diminishing your appetite to continue.
That’s the stage I’m at. I’ve been mixing in regular running for about two weeks now. The nearly healed broken right foot still offers some minor feedback now and again, but I’m confident that it’s just small muscles/tissue around the break, not the actual bone itself. The left knee is coming along too: the pain still exists, but at this point it’s just a nuisance that doesn’t preclude me from a run. I’ve been doing strengthening exercises for it 2-3 times per week: mostly body weight exercises like wall sits and one-legged squats. And I’ve added plyometric jumps. It’s coming along.
Lastly, I’ve been working on my form. When I look at photographs of my earlier races, I can clearly see that I had a tendency to sit back and strike the ground with my rearfoot. This increases the load on the knees greatly, and truly isn’t the way we were meant to run. During recovery, I’ve read extensively on our foots natural load-bearing capability and have decided to seek out the lightest, most flexible shoes available in order to promote the safest footstrike for my body’s natural movement. So, I’ve become a “minimalist,” or, to be more accurate, discovered that I was born to be one and have decided to reacquaint myself with that human characteristic. There are several ways I “test” myself when I run, to ensure that I’m doing the right thing: getting 180 footfalls in per minute (or 30 per 10 seconds), upright posture with arms comfortably at the ribcage, slight forward lean, and, lastly, up on the toes/forefoot for each strike…this reduces the amount of strain on the knees, thereby giving me greater mechanical/structural endurance.
Ok, wow, that’s a lot. I’ll have to come back to that at some point later. I’ve got about a million things to do to prepare for the 2011 Minnesota WWP Event on April 10th! I’m excited to unveil my complete schedule for this season through June 2012 ~ be there and you’ll be the first to know!
Oh, and starting next week I’ll be charting my training here. Now that I’ve actually got something good to write about ~ real runs!
All my best & Keep moving forward, Matt