I have been pretty fortunate to not have many injuries from running in the past few years. From June to August I had a lower back spasm but I don’t know for sure that it was caused by running; I did a lot of things to aggravate it. But this past weekend, after running the 6 mile trail run, my ankle swelled. It didn’t swell until four hours after the race, which I thought was odd. I’m sure it had something to do with running through muddy creeks and jumping over trees. 🙂 Things my feet are not accustomed to. The ankle has felt better every day although I am not doing any of my normal walking or running activities. Tonight I am going to Zumba so we’ll see how it feels then.
Even though I have not had many injuries, I know there is a strong possibility that I will have more injuries and a New York Times Magazine article caught my attention. The Once and Future Way to Run written by Christopher McDougall has me thinking about my running stride and how my foot strikes the ground. The article talks a little about the history of running shoes and about the current barefoot or minimalist shoe running trend. But to be able to run barefoot or with minimalist shoes, one has to have the right technique. I have seen a few people running barefoot and some wearing what they call barefoot type running shoes. There is an obvious difference in their strides and it looks like they’re gliding and kind of prancing. In the article McDougall references running coach Alberto Salazar, who teaches the technique, and says it is injury-proof running. Alright, I’m listening, er, still reading; how do we do it?!
McDougall says a great way to learn the barefoot-style stride is to do 100-Up exercises (developed by W.G. George around 1908). There is a video along with the article that gives a demonstration of the 100-Up. The biggest no-no is landing on the heel, initial contact should be between the ground and the ball of your foot. I know that’s the way I should be running, but I don’t really know if I am hitting with my heel. Why? Because I have cushy shoes! The point of the minimalist shoes or going barefoot is that you know exactly where your foot hits the ground and can if you’re doing it right. That makes sense to me.
So, am I going to start running barefoot? Not likely. There are still ways to injure the feet on pavement even with the correct stride, plus I’m allergic to bees and wasps and I don’t want to risk getting stung. Will I ever run with minimalist shoes? Possibly, but first I am going to start doing the 100-Up exercises and see how it feels. McDougall says this running style feels effortless – why wouldn’t I want to give it a try?
One of the main reasons I run is for my kids. Being active now will hopefully prevent disease later, which means more time that I’ll hopefully have with them. Being active also helps set a great example and shows how important it is to me and our family that we exercise. My five-year-old, Audrey, is really active and loves to run – you know, at recess and playing tag in the yard. But for the first time this year the kids ran in a fun run; they did a little less than a mile and I did a 5K. I ran with Audrey and was surprised at how well she did. She didn’t get out of breath and didn’t have to walk at all. Luke (the eight-year-old and not naturally inclined to do sports) also enjoyed it and they both want to participate in more races.
Today, when I said I needed to do a trail run and the hubs told the kids they would hike the same trail, Audrey told me she wanted to run with me. She wanted me to pick out clothes for her that would be appropriate for running. She is definitely paying attention to everything I do! I decided I would let her tag along for my first lap and then I’d do one at more my speed. Man, was she good! I was worried she would trip but she was really good at looking out for obstacles. And she was fast! We ran part of the Woodpecker Trail System shown on the right side of this picture. It helped that we started downhill (the P in the lower right), went down W-5, right at W-1, then accidentally up W-2 (we should have turned at W-3). She needed to walk at W-2 because it was uphill. We got to the top and realized we needed to go back down and pretty much walked the rest, up W-3 then ran just a short part at the top. She really enjoyed it. I think we ran about 4 tenths of a mile in about six minutes, and part of it was uphill. In total the run plus walking was 1.2 miles.
Here we are after our first trail run together.
I then did another loop by myself and went 1.3 miles in 14:24. Like I said in my last trail running post, I absolutely love it. And it appears I have already passed that love on. 🙂
On my list of races to possibly do yet this year is a 4 mile trail run on November 6. I have just been doing 5Ks on pavement so I thought it might be a good idea to actually run on a trail before I register. 🙂 Sometimes I try to run on the grass instead of the sidewalk but that gets tricky when there are tall weeds and when the utility company has been digging holes and doesn’t fill them in.
I’m so thrilled to report that trail running was much easier and more fun than trying to run in the grass. I chose a trail that we have hiked many times although I didn’t know the distance. Trying to decipher the trail head map was difficult because it gave the distances between 2 points and in order to know how far I went I would have to add up a few sections. Once I was finished I realized I could use the calculator on my phone to add the sections and the loop I did was 1.3 miles. The trail started downhill which was nice, but this section had stairs with a path next to them. I opted for the worn down path next to the stairs instead of hoping over stairs. The next half mile or so was pretty flat and went along the lake; it was such a pretty view! A welcome change from my usual runs in town.
Besides the natural beauty of this trail, the next best part about it was the soft dirt and leaves. The leaves pretty much covered everything but somehow I managed not to trip. The last section was uphill, which most people would groan about, but I was happy to do hills. There are none in the small city where I live. I know there will be hills during the 4 mile race so I need to be prepared! The loop ended up being shorter than I thought it would be so after returning to my starting point I went back down the first section, turned around and tried to run back up. It was pretty steep (this was the part with the stairs) and I had to walk part of it. All in all it was a great run and I went ahead and registered for the 4 mile race on the 6th. I’m looking forward to more trail running before then!