I am learning to run again. Awesome. I feel like I just went back two months in training. Sigh. But, it’s good – here’s why:
Yesterday was my appointment with a physical therapist. She was first of all, awesome. One of the first things I told her was that I was willing to do whatever it takes to rehab my knees – except stop running of course. I pretty much told her that if her answer was going to be “stop running” that I was heading out the door. But it never came to that. She understood my desire (I suspect she is or has been a runner in the past). And then she not only worked with me for an hour talking about how to fix my knees, she also talked to me about form and stride and hips and quads and foot mobility, etc.
Turns out I have excellent foot mobility and strong feet. I’ve learned that this fact is a good thing. What I also learned is that part of my knee pain is due to my stride. When I walk, and also run, my stride is short. Now, this is fine if I was say, 5’4″ but I’m not. I’m 6’0″ – even. And most of that is leg. So the fact that I run without stretching out my leg entirely is not doing my knees any favors. It’s funny to me because I walk the same way – I’ve even been told that I’m a lollygaggler when I walk. I just don’t use my legs to their full potential and my hip flexor is not stretched because of that nor is it being used to its full capability.
I remember one day when my family and I were traveling somewhere and we stopped at a rest area to picnic lunch. My stepbrothers and I were messing around and chasing each other and running (we’d been in the car for awhile). I couldn’t catch either of them and I remember my mom and stepdad telling me that if I would actually use my legs, I would be so fast. Weird how your past jumps into your mind.
So anyway, back to learning how to run. I spent the day yesterday trying to walk correctly. This is hard. LOL. While I’ve been resting my knees the last week and not running, I’ve been reading. A lot. Research is my middle name and I wanted to look into something that a friend’s husband had told me about barefoot running. I thought he was nuts – as in, yes, I can see how barefoot running would be great for an experience runner like he is, but not for a baby runner like me. Turns out, I’m wrong. What I’ve learned is that a lot of runner’s injuries are caused by wearing these super-duper industrial cushioned running shoes – that in all actuality, our bodies are meant to run and we are built to handle it barefoot (see where the fact that I have strong and mobile feet come in?). So I read some journal articles and studies and then while reading Born to Run, I caught that there are university track teams that train barefoot so they’ll have less injuries. Hmm…
I figure what the heck, I’m already learning how to run all over again, why not try this out? My feet are too sensitive now to go out and do it barefoot now, so I went to the local running store to purchase a pair of five-finger shoes. I needed new running shoes anyway and had a little saved up to do so (which is weird – I’m usually not much of a saver, guess I really want to do well at this running thing). However after trying on multiple pairs, I learned that my big toe (does that have a technical name I wonder?) is a little large (ugh) and I decided to hold off and reward myself with a pair of these shoes in the spring. I have no idea why I think my toe will be smaller then but stranger things have happened.
But I didn’t want to purchase the springy cushioned running shoes. Fortunately, there are light-weight shoes that more neutral – as in, the closest I could get to barefoot shoes. I went with the Saucony Kinvara – and they are so ugly. LOL. They are orange. Like, orange-orange. But it’s not about beauty here, just running. And they wiped out my shoe-savings I had. But they’ll last me a long time so I’ll be okay and now can go back to saving up to pay bills down again (like my mom, who is reading this right now cussing at me because I owe her money and I just bought running shoes…sorry mom, check’s in the mail).
Seriously, this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written I think. Anyway, I went out this morning and ran – or rather, tried out my new running. And, let me tell you, when you use your legs and stretch out your stride, you go so much faster. I did a 12-minute mile, with walking breaks in there because I was so winded. I know for other people that’s not very fast, but for me, that’s good. I need to learn to slow my pace and still use my full leg length. But I felt the heartrate up today. It was awesome.
And then just because I wanted to feel it, I sprinted the last block. And that was awesome – that feeling is why I run. Like I’m one with it and just move. I love, love, love this. Even though I didn’t run far because of my knees, I was loving it. So now my new focus is learning to run again. Sweet.