Changing my stride
In seven-plus years of running, plus on and off running in high school 15-plus years ago, one thing that's never really come up is my running form. Through various training groups and through my own research dealing with injuries, I've rarely been concerned about the way I run and never been told to do anything too different. This time around though, it's different. As I was running through my ITB injury back in October, I started to think about what had gone wrong. My mileage build-up was fine and I didn't do anything drastically different in the few weeks leading up to when the problem started. So through various conversations with much more experienced runners, many Google searches and reading excerpts in books, it's come down to this -- my form.
Brandon over at A Healthy Dad wrote about this subject the other day. After I read his post I was reassured that some work I've been doing recently was the right thing. I'm not sure why I've kind of kept this to myself, but since I got back to running more than a mile at a time, I've been working on my cadence. Simply put, to be more effective with running, shorter strides are better. More foot strikes actually leads to less impact with the ground. Sounds weird, right?
Of course I've heard this over the years, but I didn't need to change my form, right? I've gradually gotten faster over time and bought shoes people told me to buy, so there was never a need to worry about it. But I think I've been wrong about it for a long time and my ITB issue this time around was a big enough wake-up call to change the way I run.
I'm not there yet. I feel far from it. On today's pretty good 5.1-mile run, I counted my foot strikes twice with one foot -- 80 and 82. I have no idea if for my height (5 foot, 10 inches) and weight (186.8 this week, no need for a post on it) if this is good or if I need to continue to work on it. This was for my normal, everyday pace run around 9 minutes a mile. Since I run on so many hills, I need to check my foot strikes on hills, on faster runs, etc.
I do feel like I'm working those uphills the best I have in a while. They feel better than what they did before my injury. Downhills are still iffy, but I think it's a mental thing. I was going down a nice big hill in October when the pain first hit.
After every injury I've had, I feel like I come back stronger and a little bit smarter. This time around, I'm even more confident that I'll come back stronger and smarter than ever before. It's just a constant work in progress.