You get them, I get them, we all get them. Injuries are the bane of everyone’s life. From little niggles to breaks, tears and rips. This week is all about running!
Now before you read on I should probably tell you that I am a terrible runner. I have terrible form and the only way I manage to propel myself forward is by smashing my feet into the ground as hard as possible. Using this unique technique I’ve ran two London marathons very slowly and done a Paris Half Marathon and as a result won a pair of stress fractures in my right heel. Brilliant. Needless to say the 5500mile run I’ve got to do on my next trip has caused me some sleepless nights! That was until I read these two books here and here. The first one is a book about the history of running and an inspiring tale about a running tribe in Mexico and a race held between them and the greatest Ultra Runners from the US. It replaced all the fear and dread with a real willingness and passion to run! I know, it surprised me too! A friend of mine described it as the most dangerous book she had ever read-the next day she signed up for an Ultra Marathon! The second book is Chi Running and showed me that even a massive lump of meat like me with the correct technique might even make it across America!
I think there are two main problems when it comes to us mortals deciding to run long distances. Top runners will get there own unique injuries but that’s their own fault-they’re running too fast. The decision to run a marathon usually starts with a bet in a pub after some beers. The next day you’ll head out buy some expensive flash looking trainers, look up a mileage training program for marathons and then pound the streets doing ever longer distances until you’re crippled or you’ve finished the marathon. This training period will probably last three to four months. THIS IS ALL WRONG.
Technique is the foundation of any physical activity. People presume that running is running and they learned how to do it as a child so they’ll just run in the same style but try and runner harder and longer. This is rubbish and I know you’ve all seen the horrible running gaits and techniques jogging round parks all over the world. You wouldn’t swim the channel if you can’t swim well-it should be the same with running. Work on your technique, know your limits and take your time.
If you’re moving from a sedentary lifestyle to training for a long run then it’s going to take your body time to adapt, if you’re changing and improving your technique then all the new muscles, bones and joints you’re using need time to adapt. Now the blame should really lie with the marathon organisations as they only tend to tell people four or five months in advance whether they’ve got in or not and that’s when the panicky training starts. I know I’m not one to talk as I’ll start running the day after I’ve finished my cycling leg and I am anticipating some problems but am hoping the ramping up period I’m going to have will be long enough!
Finally, shoes. The most expensive aren’t necessarily the best. The ones with the most support aren’t necessarily the best. Shoes essentially allow you to run far enough with a bad technique to really injure yourself badly. The support and comfort masks your specific weaknesses. There’s a new trend in running towards barefoot running as a result of this. If you’re doing it wrong in barefeet then you know about it and it’s this sensory return from the ground that allows you to correct yourself. Running should be painless-but only if you’re doing it right. I use Vibram Fivefingers and have felt the benefit massively in just a short amount of time-it’s made me think about each step, about how my foot hits the ground and about how I put pressure through my feet. Knowledge is power and barefoot running gives you the most information-it also massively slows your progress towards big distances, this is good news as it allows your body to adapt to all the new pressures.