Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Learned the Secret To Running

I can't believe it's taken me (an undisclosed amount of) years to finally learn how to run. I mean how difficult should it be really? It's something that tiny toddlers master right after walking. I always marveled at the fact that book (with lots of pages) can be written on the subject. I remember picking up "Running for Dummies" one day and flipping through it just to see what it could say for over 200 pages.

I know that there are several documents printed on how to train for long distance runs and that I always understood. There has to be a formula by which you follow in order to achieve marathon distances. But who knew that the very basics of how to put one foot in front of the other needed to be learned?

It wasn't until I had a nice dinner-time, small-talk chat with some friends that are runners that I came to the shocking conclusion that I never knew how to run. One of these friends is the kind of guy that regularly bikes 150 miles per day. So needless to say, talking to him never really inspires me. The man is just not human. And if he his, he certainly isn't wired like the rest of us. But it was talking to the woman who is my age and training for her first ever marathon that gave me inspiration. I had all sorts of questions for her, the biggest being, "When you first started running how long did you run?" The answer shocked me. She said she could only run for 5 minutes at a time last year. This peaked my interest.

I am a great two miler. With no training at all, at any time of the year I manage to maintain my fitness level to the point where I can easily throw on my sneakers and run two miles. However, I seem to have a mental block at that distance, my body shuts down, and I can't seem to break it. Why is it that I can bike non-stop all day without it phasing me, but I can't run more than 20 minutes? I always thought it was because I have a bad knee and know that anything more will just cause me pain.

So I dug deeper into this conversation and learned this little trick about how you place your foot when jogging. You should be placing your foot flat, or maybe even a little bit toward the ball of your foot. Fascinating. I never really thought about how I placed my foot. And your stride should be short rather than long. Given the length of my legs (long) I always thought I was doing myself a favor by taking big strides. Wrong. My friends told me to think of running as simply just picking up your feet. Your upper body should be as still as possible and when your foot hits the ground just concentrate on picking it back up. They told me stories about people with bad knees and all sorts of injuries are running without any issues because they know how to run with the proper technique. It made me curious enough to test out the theory.

And guess what? I've been running 2 - 3 times per week, effortlessly and with no knee pain. I never thought this could be possible (the no pain part). Now granted I haven't conquered many more than 2 miles, but I'm increasing my distance by 1 or 2 telephone poles per run. The best and most fascinating part of this test is that when I finish running I feel as though as have so much more in me AND my knee doesn't hurt. I still can't believe this is possible, but it's true. I'm so excited to have finally learned how to run and almost motivated enough to sign up for an upcoming 5 mile race.

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