Friday, March 18, 2011

Running

As I've mentioned before I'm in the middle of training for the Ragnar relay. Yesterday I had planned a five mile run. That is the farthest I've ever run in my entire life. I ran down into the Penasquitos Canyon which is right next to our house and I'd planned to go down to a bridge that crosses the creek and then run down the trail and cross back over. I knew that way down the trail there was another bridge but I've been down this trail many times and I've see dozens of little side trails. I was sure that one of these side trails would lead me back to the other side of the creek.

The run was beautiful, the day was sunny and I was feeling good. Of course it's easier to feel good when you're running down hill but that is beside the point. I've down loaded and app on my android phone that keeps track of how long I've been running, how far I've gone, my pace time and how many calories I've burned. It also displays a map and shows the path I've run. When I was sure I'd run far enough that I needed to get back to the other side of the creek I checked the map on my phone to see where I was. Well, apparently there is no signal in the canyon and my phone wouldn't show a map.

I finally decided to just go for it and I followed the next promising looking path off the main trail hoping it led to the other side of the creek. No such luck. I wandered around in those trees for at least another mile or two before I finally did find a bridge. I then just guessed which direction I needed to go in order to find the side canyon that lead up to my house. I guessed the wrong direction so I ran another half mile in the wrong way before I figured out I was going the wrong way. To make a long story short, by the time I got home I had run seven miles. The amazing thing is that I enjoyed the entire run. I loved running through the tree's. It made my pace time much longer than I should have been but what a fun run. I did stop and took a couple of pictures just to show you how nice it is to run in the canyon. I love it.

While I'm on the topic of running let me just share my story. A few years ago I decided to get into running. I was putting on weight but I loved to eat so I decided that rather than eat less I would exercise more. That is when I first decided that running is fun. I was up to four or five miles a week when my knee started hurting. I ended up having surgery on my knee to repair a torn meniscus. I gave my knee a year or two to completely heal before I started running again. Unfortunately, no sooner did I start running when I started feeling my knee again. I stopped before it got bad because this time I knew what it was. As soon as I stopped the pain went away. I was just about to give up on running ever again when I heard about barefoot running. This made a lot of sense to me. Here are some of my arguments.

- The human body has evolved over millions of years to run on bare feet. It makes total sense that it knows how to protect itself.
- Wearing a nice padded shoes allows you to land on your heel. I tried running barefoot on the track at Pepperdine. Even on a rubberized track you can't land on your heel. You body forces you to land on the fore part of your foot.
- The human heel, knee and hip are not designed to absorb shock very well. The human ankle and the arch of your foot are full of ligaments, muscles and natural structures that are very well suited to absorbing shock.
- When you run with a heel-strike the "G" forces on your knees and hip are three times your body weight. That is true even with the padded heels in modern shoes. For me at 200 pounds that is an additional 600 pounds on top of my already 200 pounds. That's a total of 800 pounds on my poor wounded knee. A fore-foot-strike on the other hand adds 60% of your body weight. That is an additional 120 pounds or a total of 320 pounds. That is less than half of heel striking.

I can vouch for the results of this. This time when I started running again I forced myself to fore-foot-strike. It felt really strange at first but now it is becoming natural. Without fail, if I lose focus and heel strike while I'm running my knee feels it afterwards. If I concentrate and fore-foot-strike my knee is perfectly fine afterward. I absolutely can't run unless I fore-foot-strike. The added benefit is that my feet, ankles and calves are feeling very strong right now. The other thing I noticed is that my shin splints and plantar fascitis that started plaguing me are now completely gone.

So while I may not actually run barefoot I'm definitely a fore-foot-striker and I now love running. Next Saturday however, I'm only doing five miles.

2 comments:

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

Very cool Dad! I am so proud of you :) I thought your app showing you getting all turned around was hilarious :) LOVE YOU!

Peter and Mandy said...

I was expecting it to say, "off route, recalculating"